With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

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Panel rejects Entenza's voter ID claim in state auditor race

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: July 24, 2014 - 6:11 PM

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:

Entenza order

Honour adds another $500K in personal funds to his campaign coffers

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 24, 2014 - 5:46 PM

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 campaign manager 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

Dayton earned $352K last year, gave $10K to charity

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 23, 2014 - 6:12 PM

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.

In 2013, when Dayton released his tax information, Republican candidates for governor Kurt Zellers, Jeff Johnson and Scott Honour largely followed suit. They are expected to do so again this year.

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.

 

2013 Tax Returns by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Updated

Dayton: MNsure rates should be released Oct. 1

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 22, 2014 - 11:10 AM

On Tuesday, a day after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he was unsure whether the MNsure health insurance rates should be released before the election, the governor asked his commerce commissioner to attempt an earlier release.

"Making the rate information public before open enrollment begins would provide families and businesses additional time and information to help them make informed decision," Dayton said in a letter to MNsure's legislative committee.

The timing of the rate release has long been a political football.

Republicans have hammered the administration to release the 2015 health insurance rates before the November election, saying they believe consumer costs will like rise. Waiting until Nov. 15, when open enrollment begins and several weeks after voters will decide whether to re-elect Dayton and legislative DFLers, amounts to a political "cover up," they've said.

On Monday, Dayton appeared to resist calls for an earlier release.

"I think they are going to be so badly distorted for political purposes that I don't think they will shed any light for consumers," the governor said in answering reporter questions about the release schedule.

But by Tuesday, the date the MNsure's bipartisan legislative oversight panel is scheduled to discuss an earlier release, Dayton had decided an earlier release would be beneficial.

In his letter to the committee, the governor said he would like Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to request the state's health plans to agree to release rates around Oct. 1. That would give consumers about 45 days before open enrollment begins and put the 2014 release on roughly the same schedule as the 2013 release.

Here's Dayton's letter:

2014 07 22 Dayton LTR MNsure Oversight by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Photo: Star Tribune file photo

Dayton said he is unsure if release of MNsure rates would add light

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 21, 2014 - 7:21 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton said the idea of releasing the health insurance rates on the state's health exchange before the election may just add political heat without shedding any light.

"The Republicans will make a political issue out of MNsure between now and the election for anything and everything. And, you know, we're taking it one step at a time," Dayton said.

State law requires the rates for MNsure, the Minnesota version of the health exchange created in the wake of the federal Affordable Care Act, to be released in mid-November. Republicans in the Legislature and those who hope to unseat Dayton see politics in that post-election release, which one has called a "cover up."

On Monday, the DFL governor said that the Commerce Department has received preliminary rate estimates from plans and is now negotiating them down. Dayton said he has not seen those preliminary rates and is not sure if they should be released before the November election.

"I think they are going to be so badly distorted for political purposes that I don't think they will shed any light for consumers," Dayton said. "I don't think it is going to shed any light on it. It is going to add a lot of heat to the lambasting that goes on."

An early release would likely require sign off from the health plans.

"Throwing MNsure farther into the thick of the all the political shots that are going to be taken to me is not (serving any purpose,)" Dayton said.

The governor said he has not made a final decision on whether he believes the rates should be released early but is disinclined to move toward release because of pressure from Republicans to do so.

"We will see how it unfolds," Dayton said.

On Tuesday, a state legislative MNsure panel will discuss the rate release schedule.

"Gov. Dayton should put politics aside, and give Minnesotans the time they need in order to make an informed decision as to the healthcare coverage they need," the Republican Party of Minnesota said in a news release Monday.

Photo: Star Tribune file photo

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