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 legislature

The cash contest: In party fundraising, DFL continues to dominate; GOP catching up

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 29, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Minnesota Democratic party groups continue to dominate the cash contests, raising more, spending more and having more cash-on-hand than Republican party groups, according to pre-primary fundraising reports released Tuesday.

But the Minnesota Republican party groups are catching up. After years of whittling down debt, the state party now has $435,000 in debt remaining in its state committee, which is nearly $100,000 less than it owned at the end of May.

By comparison, however, Democrats still have a clear edge in the money race.

The DFL state party has raised more than $2 million, with help from the DFL House and Senate caucuses. The Republican state party has raised about half that. The state DFL party has also spent about $600,000 more than the Republicans and has a little less than twice the GOP's cash on hand, with no major debt.

The Democratic edge in the House party committees is even more stark.

For the Republican and Democratic battle for control of the House in this election, the DFL House committee has amassed almost three times what the Republican House campaign committee has in fundraising. The DFL campaign arm has about twice as much cash on hand as the Republicans' and has spent about twice more than the Republican rival committee.

Dig into all the numbers below:

The cash contest: Minnesota House primaries

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 29, 2014 - 11:41 AM

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Next month, a handful of House districts will see heated primaries among candidates who hope to join the contested battle for control of the House.

In fundraising reports released Tuesday, Republican House Deputy Minority Leader Jenifer Loon has a significant cash lead on Sheila Kihne, whose candidacy denied Loon the GOP endorsement last spring.

Loon, who has support from many well known Republicans, raised nearly $83,000 for the fight. Much of her cash came this year. 

Kihne, a Republican activist, raised about $25,000 and also has support from funders who traditionally support the most conservative Republican candidates.

Loon was one of the few Republicans to back legalizing same-sex marriage, which has been an issue in the primary campaign.

Both Loon and Kihne, who are vying to represent Eden Prairie, have outside groups on their sides.

View the pre-primary fundraising numbers for both Democrats and Republicans vying for the House below:

The cash contest: Johnson, House DFL release figures ahead of deadline

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 28, 2014 - 4:51 PM

Political campaigns are starting to release their latest fundraising figures ahead of Tuesday's deadline.

The Minnesota House Democratic caucus said it would post big numbers in their report due out Tuesday. According to the caucus, the Democratic campaign organization, fighting to keep House control in DFL hands, has raised $1.5 million this year, $780,000 in since June 1 alone. It has more than $1.5 million cash-on-hand to continue the battle.

In a release, the caucus said it had already raised more than the DFL caucus did in all of 2010, the last midterm election and the year Democrats lost control of the House.

Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson also reported his most recent fundraising figures.

His campaign said he raised about $170,000 since Johnson was endorsed by the party at the end of May. He had $123,000 cash on hand.

Johnson, whose fundraising had lagged compared to his spending earlier this year, will face a competitive four-way primary in August against Rep. Kurt Zellers, businessman Scott Honour and former Rep. Marty Seifert.

Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, had said in June that he expected the campaign would need to raise $1 million before the primary. His fundraising haul makes it appear he will fall well short of his goal.

Honour, however, is on track to meet or exceed the $1 million mark. He has poured more than $900,000 of his own money into his campaign and raised significant cash from donors as well.

Monday was the deadline for Minnesota candidates to file their campaign fundraising hauls. Those figures will be released on Tuesday.

17 lawmakers urge release of full Vikings investigation, call Priefer's suspension inadequate

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: July 25, 2014 - 6:44 PM

Seventeen state lawmakers urged Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf to release the result of a full investigation into homophobic remarks made by a coach while calling his three-game suspension too lenient.

The strongly-worded letter signed by DFL legislators in both the House and Senate say the remarks made by special teams coach Mike Priefer to "...round up all the gays, send them to an island and then nuke it until it glows" is "tantamount to calling for the genocide of all LBGT people."

Priefer admitted to the comments and apologized after a summary of the investigation was made public last week and the three-game suspension was issued.

"Donald Sterling's highly offensive bigoted remarks did not come close to calling for the destruction of an entire class of individuals," the letter said in reference to the former Los Angeles Clippers owner. "Even so, he was rightly banned by the NBA and forced to sell his basketball team. A three, possibly shortened to two, game suspension for Priefer is an underwhelming response. Imagine if Priefer had called forhte extermination of any other group of people--communities of color or religious minorities, for example. It is a safe bet that the rush to seep the whole subject under the rug would not be so fast."

Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, whose claims about Priefer's comments triggered the investigation, has threatened to sue for more than $10 million because the team won't release the report, but has held off as negotiations continue.

In the letter, the legislators remind Wilf that taxpayers contributed nearly half a billion dollars to the new stadium currently under construction, as well as continuing a sales tax exemption on ticket sales to the 2018 Super Bowl.

"In light of this enormous public effort, it is imperative that your organization be held accountable," the letter reads. "This is especially true when it would seem that Vikings leadership is turning a blind eye to such egregious misconduct and seems determined to remain opaque to the very public which has invested so much in the success of your team."

In a statement, Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said the organization considers Priefer's suspension appropriate.

"The Vikings retained two highly-respected and experienced lawyers to conduct a thorough and independent investigation of the claims made by Chris Kluwe. The results of their exhaustive six month investigation were provided to a leading employment law firm for review." the staement said. "As a result of these findings, we have taken the appropriate actions to hold individuals accountable and to ensure we continue to have a workplace environment that respects tolerance, diversity and inclusion. We have addressed this matter completely and are unable to comment further due to pending litigation".

Read the full letter here.

Vikings Investigation Legislative Letter_2

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

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