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.

Posts about Minnesota congressional

'Purple Rain' celebrated...by members of Congress

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: June 25, 2014 - 3:09 PM

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison took out his guitar and took to Twitter to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Minnesotan Prince's iconic 'Purple Rain' album.

"Can't believe it's been thirty years since #PurpleRain," the Minneapolis Democrat tweeted Wednesday morning to his nearly 55,000 followers. He also posted this video:

New York Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley felt the need to respond in kind:

Minnesotans in Congress tell Obama: No way on Norway ambassador

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: June 23, 2014 - 5:16 PM

Led by U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Erik Paulsen, all eight members of Minnesota’s congressional House delegation have signed a letter to President Obama, requesting that he withdraw the nomination of New York businessman George Tsunis to be ambassador to Norway.

“Mr. President, we believe that you would serve the Norwegian-American community well by withdrawing Mr. Tsuni’s name and nominating somebody that will help our relationship continue to grow and thrive,” the letter reads.

Minnesota is home to the largest Norwegian-American population in the United States and both the state’s U.S. senators – Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar -- also oppose Obama's nominee to fill a post that has been vacant since the fall.

Tsunis was nominated for the diplomatic post nine months ago.

While testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Tsunis “exhibited an embarrassing lack of knowledge of Norway including admitting he has never visited the country, insulting part of the coalition government, and being unable to answer even a basic question about new opportunities for cooperation between our two countries,” the letter reads.

“Mr. Tsunis further demonstrated this ignorance by believing that Norway, as a monarchy, has a president. His ill-informed comments deeply offended several Norwegian officials and have caused many to doubt his ability to serve as an effective ambassador.”

Norway Letter

Paulsen hammers IRS chief over lost emails

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: June 20, 2014 - 12:08 PM

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and House Republicans hammered the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on Friday over missing emails related to its targeting of conservative groups.

The IRS announced last week that it can’t find two years of emails from Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS division that oversaw tax-exempt groups. Lerner has acknowledged the agency’s singling out of Tea Party groups that sought tax-exempt status from February 2010 through the 2012 election.

While testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, Commissioner John Koskinen blamed the lost emails on an antiquated email system and a computer crash. Paulsen and other GOPers maintain the missing messages are part of a massive cover-up.

“Can you rule out that Lois Lerner destroyed her own computer?” Paulsen asked.

In response, Koskinen said: “There’s no evidence that she did. You can never rule out something that you don’t know.”

In a statement following the hearing, Paulsen said: “It’s long past time for the IRS to stop misleading Congress and the American people. The IRS systematically targeted individuals based on their personal beliefs, and as we found out today, is continuing to cover up their misdeeds.”

Michigan Rep. Sandy Levin, the lead Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said there was no conspiracy behind the computer crash, just an email system that was underfunded and deficient.

Rep. Tim Walz appointed to House VA Conference Committee

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: June 18, 2014 - 5:22 PM

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tim Walz was among six Democrats and eight Republicans tapped Wednesday on the House side to work out differences between passed House and Senate legislation to reform the Veterans Administration.

Walz, who served 24 years in the Army National Guard, is a member of the House Veterans Committee.

In a statement, Walz said, "My number one goal as a veteran myself and a member of this conference committee is to ensure our veterans and their families are able to get the care they need, and in a timely manner."

The differences between the House and Senate versions of the reform legislation are not great, staffers say, but both chambers are eager to get VA reform passed and sent to the president promptly.

McCollum: Ruling against Redskins trademark a ‘victory for decency’

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: June 18, 2014 - 12:32 PM

A decision by the U.S. Patent Office to cancel the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins’ team nickname is a “victory for decency,” said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

The team doesn't immediately lose trademark protection and is allowed to retain it during an appeal, which is likely.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused to change the team's name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from members of Congress, President Obama and civil rights groups.

Native American groups and lawmakers -- who have pressured National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to force Snyder to abandon the name – celebrated the decision.

In May, half of the U.S. Senate – including Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken -- wrote letters to the NFL urging the team to change its name.

“I commend the Native American petitioners and tribal leaders from across Indian Country for their courage to confront this ugly issue head on and strive for both justice and the respect they deserve,” said McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat.

“It is time for NFL team owners to have the courage to speak out and pressure Dan Snyder to change his team’s racist name. Any effort by Mr. Snyder to appeal this ruling can only be viewed as a bigoted attempt to continue to profit from this racist team name at the expense of the dignity of Native Americans.”

The decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which found that the team name is “disparaging of Native Americans,” means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but would lose much of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use.

The case does not apply to the team's logo.

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