Expletive-filled Twitter postings about drug use, insults to the military, suggesting "death to the world police" and the public rape of U.S. Senators ended a congressional campaign staffer's job on Monday.
Republican candidate David Gerson said former staffer Boone Leach's Twitter messages, posted over a series of months, were "undeniably unacceptable."
Gerson and campaign chair Marianne Stebbins said no one with the campaign was aware of them before they were brought to their attention by a Star Tribune reporter on Monday. Leach, whom Gerson said was 20 years old, was terminated from his campaign job shortly thereafter.
"We can't have him involved in the campaign," Gerson said.
Stebbins, chair of David Gerson's campaign, said that Leach was hired in November and was gone as of Monday. He had done voter contact work for about $200 a week and seemed like a "sweet kid," she said.
Gerson is challenging U.S. Rep. John Kline for the Republican nod in Minnesota's Second Congressional District.
The Twitter account under which Leach posted appeared to have been deleted on Monday afternoon.
Before the account was deleted, the Star Tribune captured some of tweets. (The tweets contain language and statements readers may find offensive.)
Many are unprintable but among them are a tweet from three months ago in which he wrote: "There is no moral difference between the affordable care act and the nazi holocaust. Every senator who voted for it should be raped publicly." Two months ago, he posted: "Working in politics at all is seriously, seriously selling your soul to evil. That's where I am right now."
He also posted an insult to the Marines, adding that "Soldiery is not a noble profesion (sic)" six months ago. Kline is a marine veteran.
Gerson said that he spoke to Leach on Monday about the postings.
"He feels terrible about it," Gerson said. "He realizes it was inappropriate."
The Star Tribune was unable to obtain working contact information for Leach.
Republican David Gerson on Monday said his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline is not a Tea Party whim.
Gerson, who ran against Kline last year, said his quest for the endorsement is serious, viable has the goal of redefining the Republican party.
"My campaign is less about challenging a Republican incumbent and more of an effort to define Republicanism consistent with the conservative principles of the people of the Second Congressional District," Gerson said.
Gerson said Kline, who was first elected in 2002, has a "moderate, bordering on progressive voting record" at a time when spending, debt and government needs to be reigned in. Gerson said he plans on dropping out if he does not get the GOP endorsement from activists last year.
Troy Young, spokesman for Kline, said Gerson is not to be trusted.
“As a Marine and Minnesotan, Kline has built a lifelong reputation on character, integrity, and honesty while Mr. Gerson bases his campaign on falsehoods and half-truths. Why should Gerson be trusted?" Young said in a statement. Young did not answer a press inquiry about whether Kline would abide by the endorsement, meaning he would end his bid for re-election if activists pick Gerson before a primary.
Last year, Gerson got 15 percent of the vote in a primary against Kline's 85 percent of the vote. Kline went on to win the district, which Democratic president Barack Obama narrowly won, with 54 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller's 46 percent. Obermueller is running again.
On Monday, Gerson said he would look at all legislation through the prism of limited government, free markets, individual rights and constitutional limits.
"I would look at the constitution and determine what powers ..were given to the federal government by the constitution. Those powers that exist and those rules of the federal government that aren't constitutional, I would be looking to cut," he said. Marianne Stebbins, who coordinated Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's Minnesota campaign in 2012, is working with Gerson's campaign.
Asked about his views about legalizing marijuana, Gerson initially avoided answering and then said "it is not a federal issue. I believe drugs are bad...I think drugs are terrible. I don't want to see anyone using them but it is not a federal issue."
Kline has bulked up his war chest in advance of the 2014 election and currently sits on $1.3 million in the bank. Gerson, who said he is just ramping up his fundraising, Gerson has a $91,000 debt in his campaign, from his loan of personal funds, and $2,000 cash on hand.
Next week, Republican David Gerson will kick off his 2014 campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline.
"We know the number one people are leaving our party is the lessor of two evils argument," Gerson said. "We want to give people a choice."
He said Kline, first elected in 2002, espouses the Republican values of "limited government, individual liberty and free markets" but has not voted those values.
Gerson ran against Kline in a primary in the south suburban and rural Second Congressional District last year and got 15 percent of the vote.
"Last year, we really were just trying to send a message to John Kline," Gerson said. "We didn’t run a serious campaign last time."
This year Gerson is starting earlier and has already spoken at local Republican groups, made thousands of calls to activists and primary voters, he said. He also has Marianne Stebbins, who coordinated presidential candidate Ron Paul's well organized Minnesota campaign last year, as his campaign co-chair.
"We are very confident that we are going to be taking the endorsement," he said. "We are the Republican Party."
Gerson says on his campaign website that he will abide by the endorsement, which means he will not run in an August primary if local Republicans do not give him the nod in the Spring.
Asked about Gerson's plans, Troy Young, Kline's spokesman said: "Congressman Kline will continue fighting for all Minnesotans as their premiums skyrocket or they are losing their health insurance altogether due to the ObamaCare train wreck that is wreaking havoc on our economy."
On Monday morning, Gerson will hold a media event at the Minnesota Capitol's state office building to announce his plans to seek the Republican endorsement.
The Minnesota Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann favored Domino's. Ron Paul's presidential campaign preferred American Pie.
And last year, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and northern Minnesota Democratic congressional hopeful Jeff Anderson went for Pizza Luce while U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who bested Anderson in a primary, bestowed Sammy's Pizza in both Hibbing and Duluth with his business.
Since Minnesotans can get as passionate about pizza choices as they are about politics, Hot Dish asked the Center for Responsive Politics to generate a list of all the pizza purchases from Minnesota's federal campaigns of late.
Check out the map of pizza payments below and perform your own pizza partisanship on the data here.
While President Obama was tweaking the Affordable Care Act Thursday to extend expiring insurance policies for another year, U.S. Rep. John Kline was holding a hearing in his Education and Workforce Committee to explore another potential pitfall of the law.
In a new challenge to the health care overhaul, the Minnesota Republican has been highlighting the financial burden that it could impose on school districts and colleges that have to comply with the federal mandate to provide coverage for their employees.
Though the mandate has been pushed back a year, educators and school district officials from around the nation warned of the unintended budget consequences of covering part-time and semi-part workers such as teaching aides, adjunct instructors, cooks, bus drivers and others who work more than 30 hours a week.
A recent analysis of Minnesota Education Department data by the conservative-leaning Watchdog Minnesota found that 22,800 non-licensed school employees work between 30 and 39 hours a week, making them eligible for required benefits under the new health law.
State education officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Critics of the law warn that the 30-hour threshold will force schools, just like other employers, to limit hours, cut jobs, or incur greater costs.
While some educators have asked that the coverage threshold be raised to 40 hours, Democrats on the committee argued that the change would hurt part-time workers who will otherwise be insured.
Kline argues that the law’s employer mandate could hurt the educational system at all levels. “Americans continue to express their concerns about Obamacare and the troubling impact it is having on their lives,” Kline said in the lead-up to the hearing. “Our nation’s schools are not immune to the consequences of this law.”
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