On the day Congress reconvenes, U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s campaign has reprised its criticism of inaction in Washington, particularly his Democratic oppnent Al Franken.
McFadden’s latest charge comes on the wake of a Star Tribune report that proceedings are underway to determine who is behind efforts to convince Minnesotans to fight in the Middle East. Federal authorities say upward of a dozen Somali men and three women from Minnesota have fled the country to fight alongside or aid extremists in the Middle East. The Republican investment banker hopes to unseat Franken.l
Last week, following the second beheading of an American journalist by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Franken called the Obama Administration’s lack of a strategy to take on ISIS “troubling” and asked Attorney General Eric Holder to focus Department of Justice resources on recruiting at home. McFadden said the efforts were too little, too late.
“As Senator, Al Franken has prioritized issues such as ‘net neutrality’ rather than concerns that extremists groups are recruiting from out of our own back yard. Our leaders need to have their priorities straight,” McFadden said in a statement. “This recruitment has been occurring for years, yet Sen. Franken has kept his head down and has only recently begun to address the situation.”
On the day Congress returns to session from its summer break, McFadden urged a bipartisan effort “to combat attempts by terror-related organizations to recruit young Americans to fight against freedom.”
In a statement, Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff deflected McFadden’s criticism, saying Franken has spent years focusing on battling terrorism at home and abroad.
"We're delighted with Mr. McFadden's newfound concern with terrorism. We note that last year, he was the only candidate who hid from the press rather than state his position on Syria, and just a few months ago, actually fled from a voter who asked him his position on the PATRIOT Act.” She said. “Senator Franken has been working on these issues since his first FBI briefing on terrorist recruitment in our communities soon after joining the Senate in 2009."
In a new 30-second ad, Sen. Al Franken criticizes opponent Mike McFadden's business ties to global investment firm Lazard Ltd. for its incorporation in Bermuda, accusing "McFadden's business" of avoiding paying taxes in the U.S.
The ad, which blurs distinctions between the parent firm and subsidiary McFadden co-ran, opens with scenic views of Bermuda, the subtropical island 640 miles east of North Carolina. A narrator says "McFadden's company" uses "a special tax loophole to list its headquarters offshore" for the purposes of tax evasion.
Lazard is the parent company of Lazard Middle Market, a firm it acquired in 2007 when the GOP challenger was co-chief-executive. McFadden is on leave while he runs for office. At the time of the deal, McFadden's private investment bank was named Goldsmith Agio Helms.
Lazard Middle Market is based in Delaware. It pays U.S. taxes on revenue generated in the country. Parent company Lazard is incorporated in Bermuda for tax purposes.
McFadden's campaign on Friday bit back against the campaign ad.
"It's either sloppy or malicious,” said McFadden deputy campaign manager Tom Erickson.
McFadden, through a spokesman, said that a “favorable and stable business environment” was the reason Lazard Middle Market is based in Delaware.
Deputy campaign manager Erickson said that McFadden, in his role as co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market, had no say in Lazard’s headquarters decision.
The Franken campaign, however, does not accept that distinction.
“There is no difference between the two. They are the same company,” said Alexandra Fetisoff, communications director for Franken’s Senate campaign.
Fetisoff notes that when McFadden sold his firm to Lazard in 2007, he did so knowing that Lazard was based out of the country.
Earlier this year, McFadden himself has blurred the lines between the parent company and subsidiary.
When news outlets reported that Franken holds a mutual fund invested in parent company Lazard, McFadden said in a radio interview that, “Al Franken owns stock in my firm.”
The ad is hitting airwaves across Minnesota and comes on the heels of an announcement by Burger King Worldwide Inc. to move its headquarters to Canada once it finalizes a merger with Tim Hortons Inc., a Canadian doughnut chain.
-- Blog post by Ricardo Lopez and Rachel Stassen-Berger
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race is hitting metro hot spots this week.
On Wednesday, it was New York for Republican Mike McFadden. On Friday, Democratic Sen. Al Franken will travel to Chicago.
The reason for both trips? Cash.
McFadden was in New York City for a high dollar fundraiser with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Franken will travel to Chicago for a low-dollar fundraiser with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.
Both also have spent time campaigning in Minnesota this week.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said he is “proud to stand” with fast-food workers protesting nationwide to demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.
Strikers gather Thursday in more than 100 cities, including Minneapolis, where Ellison joined workers in pre-dawn demonstrations.
A number of fast-food workers make close to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or roughly $15,000 annually. Some say that is not a living wage, especially for workers who are supporting families.
“Thousands of fast food workers will be out in the street today, demanding a living wage and the right to organize,” said Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“They’re doing it because they have families to feed and parents to look after. They’re doing it because they have basic needs that can’t be met at $7.25 an hour. They’re standing for the possibility of a better future and an economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few. I’m proud to stand with them.”
The National Council of Chain Restaurants, an industry trade group, took issue with the protests, which led to arrests in several cities.
"There are millions of workers in the food retail industry who find personal satisfaction in their work and appreciate the opportunities provided by the restaurants that hire them,” executive director Rob Green said in a statement. "The activities being coordinated, financed and facilitated by labor unions - desperate for new membership dues - accomplish absolutely nothing."
The strike comes just days after President Obama voiced his support for the movement at a Labor Day speech in Wisconsin.
"All across the country right now, there's a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to life wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity," Obama said.
BRAINERD -- GOP Congressional candidate Stewart Mills believes in health care reform, sensible environmental regulation and would even seek out federal cash for appropriate district projects.
He just doesn't like the way the Democrats on Capitol Hill have been going about any of this work.
In a sit-down with the Star Tribune between campaign events here at his headquarters, Mills answered a few questions:
--What did you think of recent comments made by GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden that he would use Chinese steel to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, as long as it was cheaper?
"I'm not going to distance from myself from anybody's comments .. but I will tell you what I believe: Any pipeline that's going to be built, especially the Keystone, is going to be built with U.S. steel. We know the competing steel from countries are violating trade agreements by manipulating their currencies ... I don' t think we should be rewarding them for cheating."
--Rep. Rick Nolan openly seeks out federal money for local projects in the district. How would you approach seeking out federal cash to bring back home?
"I think that people in this part of Minnesota understand that that's gotta be paid for somewhere. If there's a project that's worthwhile, that makes sense for this district, I would advocate for it too. However, I would not try to use that as a leverage point to get reelected."
--How is the campaign going so far?
"There's no part of the 8th district we don't think we're going to do well. We think our message cuts across all geographic areas and people that have traditionally been pegged as Democrats I think will be looking at our campaign with open eyes."
--You have said you don't support the Paul Ryan Budget plan, supported by the majority of House Republicans and approved in the spring of 2014. (Though not taken up by the Senate.) Tell me why.
"I agree with repealing Obamacare but I don't agree with the cuts to Medicare Advantage. I believe that money should be returned to Medicare and then we have to reform the system ... That's how it becomes sustainable."
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