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Hot Dish Politics

Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

House GOP hits MNsure for doing voter registration; DFL cites statute requiring it

Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville, said at a Monday news conference that a constituent had contacted her after receiving a voter registration form from MNsure, the state-run health insurance exchange, even though the person in question is already registered to vote and does not purchase health insurance through MNsure. 

Peterson said she is sending a letter to MNsure that will inquire about staff time and money used to register voters. "I want to be clear: I don't oppose voter registration. I am concerned, however, about using staff time and taxpayer money dedicated to extracurriculars like voter registration," she said. 

Linden Zakula, Gov. Mark Dayton's deputy chief of staff, said in a statement: “House Republicans should know that for the past thirty years, state law has required agencies to provide voter registration materials to people who request them. This failure to understand a statutory responsibility demonstrates once again that House Republicans know almost nothing about state government." 

"Only consumers who request a voter registration card will be sent a voter registration card," said Marie Harmon, a spokeswoman for MNsure, indicating MNsure is not using significant resources. She added that the Department of Human Services, not MNsure, processes the requests, but use a MNsure return address label when they send out the voter registration form. 

Peterson said the constituent who contacted her had not requested a voter registration form.

Peterson, who faces a tough re-election fight against DFLer Lindsey Port, quickly pivoted from the voter regisration issue to problems on the individual health insurance market, where rates are increasing 50 percent or more and health insurers may capping enrollment and narrow coverage options. 

Republicans have been pounding the DFL on the individual health insurance market, which affects about 250,000 Minnesotans, especially since Dayton conceded to problems in that market. Republicans are trying to preserve a 73-61 majority in the House and have turned to health care as their top issue late in the campaign. 

GOP MN Senate candidate Brad Sanford declared personal bankruptcy

Bradley Sanford, a Republican candidate for the Senate in the northwest suburbs, declared personal bankruptcy in 2014, federal filings show.

The bankruptcy could clash with Sanford’s campaign theme that he is a competent businessman: “(Sanford’s)' education and leadership helped him become a staple in the financial world of Minnesota,” his campaign website reads.

The bankruptcy filing, reported first here, shows liabilities of more than $17,000. Sanford’s assets at the time were just $750 -- attributed entirely to “household goods and furnishings.” He reported earning about $80,000 per year before taxes.

Sanford did not return calls.

The open Senate seat -- left vacant by DFL Sen. Alice Johnson’s retirement -- was thought to be a competitive pickup opportunity for Republicans.

Sanford’s DFL opponent is Rep. Jerry Newton, who currently represents half of District 37 in the House. The other House seat is currently held by a Republican.

Republicans need to flip six Senate seats to take the majority from the DFL.

The bankruptcy isn’t the first challenge for Sanford’s campaign, however.

Minnesota Public Radio previously reported another financial problem -- he was served with a September judgment in which he owes more than $44,000 in back child support stemming from a 2009 divorce.

"I contested it because I didn't agree with the dollar amount,” he told MPR at the time. “But at the end of the day I have always made my payments and will continue to make these payments," he said.

A series of new legislative candidates have struggled with revelations about their backgrounds.

A House GOP candidate -- also in the northwest Metro suburbs -- was discovered to have Facebook posts that sympathized with the Confederacy. And, a judge ruled in a 1980s divorce case that a DFL House candidate in a competitive northern Minnesota district had battered his ex-wife.