Hours until President Obama’s address to the nation on the Administration’s next step in Iraq and Syria, Democratic Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden have continued their focus on terrorism abroad and recruiting at home.
In a statement released Wednesday, McFadden maintained his stance against sending ground troops to the Middle East to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). He remains in favor of U.S. airstrikes.
“If defeating ISIS requires our military to strike targets in Syria, the President should seek Congressional approval for these strikes, have the support of our allies, and ensure that strikes are conducted without coordinating with the Assad regime.”
McFadden’s statement comes the day after he supported a bill by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to revoke the passports of U.S. citizens fighting with or assisting ISIS and other terror organizations. Federal authorities say upward of a dozen Somali men and three women from Minnesota have fled the country to fight alongside or aid extremists in the Middle East, and grand jury proceedings are underway to determine who is behind the terrorism recruitment efforts.
Last week, Franken called the Obama Administration’s lack of a strategy to take on ISIS “troubling” and called on Attorney General Eric Holder to focus Department of Justice resources on recruiting at home.
“ISIL is a barbaric terrorist organization that needs to be stopped from harming the United States. Sen. Franken wrote to the Justice Department last week to make sure that they are taking every step to identify, track and apprehend individuals fighting with ISIL.” Franken spokesoman Alexandra Fetissoff said.
Asked whether Franken backs Bachmann’s proposal, Fetissoff said: “The State Department already has the authority to revoke passports but Sen. Franken will look at any proposal that would make sure that individuals fighting with ISIL cannot return to this country.”
An administrative law judge has dismissed a complaint by state Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald against the state Republican party and its leaders, ruling that she failed to show evidence they attempted to coerce her into repudiating her endorsement or distributed false campaign material.
In the five-page order issued Tuesday, Administrative law judge James LaFave ruled that MacDonald’s allegations were without merit.
MacDonald accused the Minnesota Republican Party, its executive committee, Chairman Keith Downey, attorney Patrick Burns, Judicial Election Committee chairman Doug Seaton and former state auditor and former Republican National Committeewoman Pat Anderson of violating the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act.
MacDonald alleged they conspired to deter her from continuing to run as a Republican for Supreme Court justice, despite her having received the party’s endorsement at its May convention.
But in his ruling, LaFave said MacDonald failed to include any evidence or accusations that would prove a violation of the law.
“The complaint does not allege that Mr. Burns, or anyone else, gave Ms. MacDonald items of value, or promised to do so, in return for her withdrawal as a candidate for office.” LaFave wrote.
The disclosure of MacDonald’s legal troubles drew ire from state GOP leadership who say they, along with most delegates outside the 18-member Judicial Election Committee, didn’t know about MacDonald’s arrest or controversial legal philosophy when they endorsed her to run against Justice David Lillehaug. However, they could not withdraw the endorsement without calling another convention but instead took action to bar her from campaigning at the Minnesota State Fair.
MacDonald, who stands trial Sept. 15, is scheduled for a hearing today on whether cameras will be allowed in the courtroom for her trial. Minnesota court rules do not allow the filming of criminal proceedings.
Read the ruling here:
Dozens of protestors filled the a stately Capitol office building Tuesday morning to share their view that the state of Minnesota should divest from Israel.
Despite occasionally shouting at Gov. Mark Dayton, they found the same answer others have found before: there's no current plan to change Minnesota's investment in Israel, which is two decades old.
"We really want to hear from you. We really want to understand what it's going to take," said one of the members of the divestment group, Break the Bonds.
"We have a different view, I have a different view than yours," Gov. Mark Dayton said. "As far as I'm concerned the case is closed as far as our decision. Now, I may not be here next January and there may be other new board members...From my standpoint, here we've had this debate, we disagree..."
"Why don't you answer her question," someone shouted from the audience.
"We're just at a point of disagreement," Dayton said.
Another protestor piped up to accuse Dayton of saying back in July that Palestinians "deserved" to be bombed. Dayton replied that he did not recall saying that and he did not believe he said that.
Protestors murmured in disagreement.
"You're quoted as saying that," a women said.
"You did say it, so what did you mean?" a man said.
In the July Star Tribune article protestors cited, Dayton, in fact, did not say that anyone deserved to be bombed.
He said, instead, "Tonight, I join with you in expressing my support of the people of Israel in defending themselves against Hamas’ terrorism."
Dayton suggested the protestors should return in March of next year when the long-held bonds will expire. The state currently holds $10 million in bonds issued by Israel and $15 million invested through the U.S. Agency for International Development and that is also considered an investment in Israel.
After some more shouting from protestors, Dayton said: "Excuse me, I'm going to terminate the meeting if we can't have a civil conversation."
Shortly thereafter, the Board of Investment meeting ended because the agenda was completed and the Land Exchange Board meeting began in the same room.
During that later meeting, the protestors could be heard chanting so loudly outside those left in the room had to speak louder and move closer to the board members to make themselves heard.
Tom Horner, the Independence Party candidate for governor in 2010, waded back into governor's race politics on Tuesday when he endorsed GOP candidate Jeff Johnson in his challenge to incumbent DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
"I believe Jeff will bring to government a commitment to accountability that's sorely missing," Horner said, standing alongside Johnson at a Capitol news conference. "We have too many examples of this governor's after-the-fact criticism of legislation and policies that he championed and signed into law."
Asked for an example of that, Horner cited the Vikings stadium bill that Dayton signed in 2012 that allowed the team to amass significant revenue by selling so-called "seat licenses." Dayton, Horner said, "claimed he didn't know that was in it."
Dayton brushed off Horner's criticisms and his endorsement of Johnson. "He didn't support me in 2010 so I'm not surprised," Dayton said. Of Johnson, he said, "he said he's proudly part of the tea party, and now he's joining up with the Independence Party. I guess he's trying to broaden his appeal."
Horner is a former Republican operative who later co-founded a successful Twin Cities public relations firm. In 2010, he left the GOP and embraced the Independence Party, the one-time political home of former Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Running against Dayton and GOP candidate Tom Emmer that year, Horner captured 12 percent of the vote with a message of fiscal discipline and social moderation. Dayton beat Emmer by a thin margin of about 9,000 votes, and some Republicans suggested Horner's candidacy was partly responsible. Horner had secured endorsements from a number of prominent retired Republican politicians, including former governors Arne Carlson and Al Quie.
That led then-GOP state chairman Tony Sutton to brand such Republicans "quislings," a reference to a World War II-era Nazi appeaser. The GOP Central Committee met to officially strip Carlson and Quie of their party membership.
"Our party shouldn't have done that," Johnson said Tuesday. "That was a mistake."
Horner said he continued to occasionally interact with the Independence Party as recently as earlier this year. But he said this year's IP candidate, Hannah Nicollet, is not mounting a viable campaign. Nicollet failed to raise enough campaign funds to qualify for a public campaign subsidy that would have given her a much-needed financial boost.
"I've never even met Tom Horner," Nicollet said. "If he likes Jeff Johnson's vision, that's his prerogative."
Nicollet said she is confirmed to participate in the first of five gubernatorial debates, on Oct. 1 in Rochester, and that she hoped to participate in the four other scheduled debates in the race. Nicollet also said she hoped to start releasing ads online in the next week or two.
If neither Nicollet nor the other IP statewide candidates are able to muster more than 5 percent of the vote in their races this November, the party would lose its status as a major party under Minnesota law.
WASHINGTON -- GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden said Tuesday he favored a proposal introduced this week in the House that revokes passport and re-entry privileges for American citizens who fight overseas for Islamic militants.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Michele Bachmann Monday.
Bachmann's bill, dubbed the Terrorist Denaturalization and Passport Revocation Act, amends existing laws and rescinds re-entry privileges for people who join terrorist armies overseas. A companion measure was introduced by Texas Republican Sen. Cruz that goes a step further and allows the U.S. government to strip citizenship of any person joining military forces with countries at war with the United States.
McFadden's spokesman said he thinks Cruz's bill could be unconstitutional based on previous Supreme Court rulings on citizenship revocation.
McFadden said in a statement Tuesday: "It is necessary that we have policies and procedures in place to prevent this from occurring and to ensure that trained terrorists do not come back to the United States with the ability to launch terror attacks here at home."
McFadden is hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Al Franken in November. Expecting a Franken response to the legislation in the next couple hours.