Mark Dayton: Stealer of ideas?

  • Updated: April 16, 2011 - 7:32 PM

Republican lawmakers say there's something familiar about some of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's executive actions.

They say they proposed them first.

"They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said last week when Dayton's administration announced a plan to seek contracts to root out fraud and waste in government spending.

"We want to be able to assure Minnesota taxpayers that their hard-earned dollars are being spent properly," Lucinda Jesson, commissioner of human services, said in a statement.

Nelson said she agrees but said she had the idea first. She said it was the second time her ideas have shown up in Dayton's actions. Nelson even said she has been dubbed an "idea generator for the governor."

Republican lawmakers also point to some of Dayton's health care orders and his early order to streamline business permitting as proposals that could have been ripped from their legislation.

"He can go in and reach down and say, 'That's a good idea', and implement it. That's not the way the system is designed to operate," said Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, who said Dayton has picked up on some of his ideas.

Even if the lifting is happening -- and when asked, Dayton didn't say it was -- the critics say there's nothing, necessarily, untoward about it.

"It is not immoral, it is not unethical," said Nienow, who added that the governor can bring "hoopla" to an idea from the legislative trenches.

Dayton implied last week that the whole whose-idea-is-it-anyway dust-up is just silly. "There's a role for the legislative branch, there's a role for the executive branch and when we do things well there is plenty of credit to go around," he said.

Republican legislative leaders seemed to agree.

"I live by the old Ronald Reagan, surprise, surprise, motto of: If you don't care who gets the credit ... good things [get] accomplished," said House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove. "If it's a good idea, it's a good idea."

RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER

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