Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will visit the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend to see firsthand where thousands of unaccompanied minors have crossed illegally into the country in recent months.
Bachmann and GOP congressman Steve King of Iowa plan to make stops in McAllen, Brownsville and Laredo and meet with Border Patrol agents to discuss the current immigration crisis.
A warehouse converted to process immigrant children who have entered the United States illegally opened last weekend in McAllen. There are also Border Patrol detention centers in Brownsville and Laredo.
“Although President Obama would prefer to play pool instead of visit the border, I want to see firsthand the impact of this administration’s immigration policies,” Bachmann said in a statement.
“I have deep concerns over the failure to enforce border security laws, and I look forward to meet with those tasked with the patrolling the border to hear their thoughts on the growing crisis.”
A state Office of Administrative Hearings panel rejected claims by Matt Entenza that Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto lied when she said she had not voted for legislation requiring voter identification.
In an 11-page order issued Thursday, the three-judge panel rejected the official campaign complaint filed by Entenza, who is challenging Otto in a DFL primary Aug. 12. Entenza, a former House minority leader, filed for the office in the last moments before deadline, surprising Otto, a former House colleague, and many DFLers.
Entenza filed the complaint in June based on a Facebook comment Otto posted, after she was asked if she voted for Voter ID as a state legislator. Otto responded to the post saying "No, Lauren. It was not around in 2003. No one can find a bill on the issue when I served."
Otto wrote that no one could find a 2003 voter ID bill that she had opposed, as Entenza had claimed.
"Matt will say anything," she said in the post.
According to the ruling, two bills proposing the requirement of identification at the polls were presented on the House floor during the 2003 legislative session. Then-state Rep. Keith Ellison at the time presented an amendment removing the voter identification language from the legislation, which Otto voted against. Of the two bills, Otto voted against one that would require voter identification and in favor of another requring voter ID. However, the Voter ID language was stripped from the language in conference committee and Otto voted in favor of the revised version.
Otto said that the statement on her Facebook page was in reference to the highly- controversial proposed Voter ID amendment to the state constition defeated by voters in 2012, not the 2003 bills, which provided an exception for individuals without identification. Otto also maintained that she did not recall "Voter ID" being an issue when she served in the Legislature, and that her Facebook page is not "campaign material."
In dismissing the case, the panel concluded that "there are no disputed facts in this matter--only differing interpretations of the meaning of the phrase "voter ID," which is not sufficient for Entenza to bring a case.
"Ms. Otto's quick response to the Facebook post tends to support the conclusion that she subjectively understood her response to be truthful," the panel wrote.
Entenza campaign manager Dave Colling, who brought the complaint on the candidate's behalf, said Thursday that Otto's record on voter ID remains an issue for the campaign.
"Even though the case was dismissed it didn't go as far as to say she did not vote for voter ID," Colling said. "At the end of the day it doesn't change the fact that she voted for voter ID in the Legislature twice."
In a statement issued by the DFL, Otto's attorney, Charlie Nauen, called the ruling "a complete victory for Rebecca Otto over Matt Entenza's misleading claims and distortion of the facts."
"I have never voted for Voter ID," Otto said in the statement. "In fact, I campaigned against it."
"Rebecca Otto had it right," DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said. "Matt Entenza will say anything to get himself elected."
Read the ruling here:
Republican candidate for governor Scott Honour has added another $500,000 in personal funds to his campaign coffers, his campaign manager said Thursday.
The new cash infusion just 19 days before Minnesotans decide whether to pick him or one of his rivals to take on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in the fall could give the little-known businessman a boost in the final days of the campaign.
"From the start, Scott's made sure the campaign has what it takes financially to win the Governor's race. But this campaign is about a lot more than money. It's about who voters can trust to make real change in St Paul," said Honour senior consultant Pat Shortridge.
So far, Honour has been the best funded GOP candidate for governor, with more than $900,000 of his campaign cash coming from his own pocket. His campaign said he raised $100,000 from others in the past few months.
He will face fellow Republicans Kurt Zellers, a former House speaker, Marty Seifert, a former House minority leader, and Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner and the GOP-endorsed pick in the primary. Honour is the only one among the bunch who has never run for office before.
Minnesotans have proven they bear no ill-will toward self-funded candidates.
Gov. Mark Dayton largely self-financed his campaign for governor in 2010 and his previous successful campaign for the U.S. Senate. He is fundraising from others for his re-election campaign.
All candidates must report their most recent campaign finance numbers on Monday. Those will be made public on Tuesday.
Photo: Scott Honour in a St. Cloud parade/Glenn Stubbe, Star Tribune
Correction: This post has corrected Pat Shortridge' title.
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler testified before the U.S. Senate Education Committee on Thursday, discussing how the college plans to boost graduation rates for low-income and first-generation college students.
At the hearing, “The Role of States in Higher Education,” lawmakers explored strategies that could help more students land on top-notch campuses and walk away with degrees.
“The value of a public college degree for our students and our states … has never been higher,” Kaler told lawmakers. “More jobs than ever require a degree. But costs are higher than ever too.”
U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Kaler discussed bills he introduced that would require colleges to use uniform financial aid letters and net-price calculators.
Colleges are required by law to have the calculators on their websites to help families estimate what they would really pay for an education. But the price calculators vary by institution, making comparisons tough when students are trying to select a college.
“We’ve attended a number of college affordability roundtables together,” Franken said to Kaler. “One of things we both heard is that very often student say that they didn’t really understand going in what the cost was.”
Kaler also discussed university programs focused on peer mentoring, advising and financial aid that help keep low-income and minority students on campus once they get there.
“What goes on in the classroom is a pretty important part of a student’s experience, but what goes on outside is at least as important,” Kaler said.
Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton earned $352,601, a little less than half of which came from capital gains, according to tax returns he released on Wednesday.
The DFL governor, who has released his tax returns every year since 2010, gave $10,000 to charity and paid $76,008 in federal taxes and $29,932 in state taxes, for an effective tax rate of 30 percent.
The heir to the Dayton's department store fortune earned $116,092 from his state salary and $73,062 from dividends.
In 2012, Dayton earned a similar amount from similar sources but only gave $1,000 to charity. He said at the time that he was" disappointed in myself," because of his lack of charitable contributions. He gave ten times more in 2013 than he gave in 2012. His total giving equaled about 3 percent of his 2013 income.
Releasing tax returns is not a requirement of Minnesota politicians. State law mandates only minimal release of economic interests.
Zellers’ spokeswoman Caitlyn Stenerson said he will not release his until post-primary because getting them ready would take too much precious time during the heated run-up to the August 12 election.
GOP candidate Marty Seifert declined to release his tax information last year and did so again this year.
"I don't think our income tax return is anyone's business, but can assure you our household income is less than the other GOP candidates and much less than Governor Dayton," Seifert said in a statement.
The four Republicans will vie in an August primary. The winner of that contest will face Dayton in the fall.
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