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.

Obama to host 'U' fellows at town hall meeting

Posted by: Corey Mitchell under President Obama Updated: July 28, 2014 - 10:20 AM

President Obama will host twenty-five young African leaders who participated in a six-week fellowship program at the University of Minnesota.

Five-hundred fellows from across Africa will participate in the town-hall meeting with the president and first lady today as part of Obama’s inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

The fellowships are designed to give participants from sub-Saharan Africa leadership training at American universities, as well as the chance to meet with U.S. government officials and civic leaders.

Since early June, the ‘U’ group has studied community and non-profit organizations around the Twin Cities.

Obama announced creation of the fellowship program during a 2013 trip to South Africa. During today’s session, he plans to rename the program in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Johnson hopes to get out of the hospital Sunday or Monday

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota governor, Republicans Updated: July 25, 2014 - 5:51 PM

"They won't even let me have water," Jeff Johnson, a Republican candidate for governor said Friday from his hospital bed.

Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner who is vying in a competitive August primary, had emergency stomach surgery on Monday. His surgeons discovered a perforation in his stomach and repaired it.

But Johnson is on the mend. He may be allowed to eat -- or at least drink something -- on Saturday and hopes to be released from Maple Grove Hospital Sunday or Monday. He will be back to campaigning next week, although not with full vigor he had before his peptic ulcer was discovered on Monday.

Johnson, who is 47 years old, had little warning of the problem.

He said he suffered from some back and leg pain late last week and was on a course of steroids and ibuprofen to treat it. Then Sunday into the wee hours of Monday, he had severe stomach pain.

Early Monday morning, he went to the urgent care, which eventually sent him on to the hospital for the surgery.

Johnson said he hadn't had similar issues before.

"It was a complete surprise," he said. Although the problem in his stomach was called an ulcer, he said it was not stress-related and was likely made worse by the drugs regimen he had started for his back pain.

Johnson, of Plymouth, said his doctors were unmoved by his jokes that the problem came at a bad time for him politically.

And yes, he said, he has made some fundraising calls from his hospital bed.

"I'm actually hitting up the doctors and nurses pretty hard," he joked.

Johnson will face Rep. Kurt Zellers, former Rep. Marty Seifert, businessman Scott Honour and others in a primary on Aug. 12.

Here's the reflection on his ailment Johnson released on Facebook this week:


Amid immigration crisis, Bachmann to visit U.S.-Mexico border

Posted by: Corey Mitchell under 6th District, Minnesota congressional Updated: July 25, 2014 - 3:34 PM

Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will visit the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend to see firsthand where thousands of unaccompanied minors have crossed illegally into the country in recent months.

Bachmann and GOP congressman Steve King of Iowa plan to make stops in McAllen, Brownsville and Laredo and meet with Border Patrol agents to discuss the current immigration crisis.

A warehouse converted to process immigrant children who have entered the United States illegally opened last weekend in McAllen. There are also Border Patrol detention centers in Brownsville and Laredo.

“Although President Obama would prefer to play pool instead of visit the border, I want to see firsthand the impact of this administration’s immigration policies,” Bachmann said in a statement.

“I have deep concerns over the failure to enforce border security laws, and I look forward to meet with those tasked with the patrolling the border to hear their thoughts on the growing crisis.”

Panel rejects Entenza's voter ID claim in state auditor race

Posted by: Abby Simons under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Democrats 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