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, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Corey Mitchell, Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about 2012 Presidential election

Bachmann goes up early on the airwaves this week

Posted by: Updated: May 15, 2013 - 7:37 PM
Embattled U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is starting an unusual off-election-year ad campaign in the Twin Cities, according to filings with the Federal Communication Commission.
The ad campaign, first reported in the National Journal, begins Thursday, a full 18 months before voters go to the polls.  
Records show that Bachmann’s campaign will run more than two dozen spots on KMSP, the local Fox affiliate, over the next two weeks. The $14,565 ad buy is part of a larger campaign that weighs in at closer to $85,000, according to Democratic sources.
A spokesman for Bachmann said he could not discuss the content of the ads.
The ads come as the Minnesota Republican is reportedly in settlement talks in connection with a politically-damaging lawsuit stemming from the alleged theft of a staffer’s email list by the Iowa chairman of Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Bachmann also is scheduled to take part in a Capitol Hill press conference Thursday on IRS “intimidation” of Tea Party groups, an issue that could highlight her credentials as a Tea Party leader and former IRS attorney.
She also is sponsoring a new bill to repeal Obamacare, an issue that helped thrust her into a national spotlight three years ago. The repeal bill, which is scheduled for a House vote Thursday, represents the 37th time the GOP-led House has voted to defund all or part of the law.
Bachmann has been raising money at a furious pace in recent months, playing against her status as a top target for the House Majority PAC, the leading House Democratic super PAC. She faces a rematch next year with DFL businessman Jim Graves, who lost to her by little more than one percentage point in November.
Graves said he hadn't seen the ads, adding "candidly, I'm not very interested." His focus, he said, is employment and the business climate in the district.

Affidavit says Bachmann approved hidden payments to Iowa senator

Posted by: Updated: April 22, 2013 - 11:35 AM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s former chief of staff, GOP operative Andy Parrish, stated in a signed affidavit Monday that the Minnesota Republican approved payments made to a top aide who was barred by Iowa Senate ethics rules from accepting money for his work on her presidential campaign.
The suspected payments to Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson, first alleged in a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed by campaign whistleblower Peter Waldron, are now the subject of an inquiry by the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee.
Sorenson or his company, Grassroots Strategy, allegedly were paid $7,500 a month through C&M Strategies, a Colorado-based company run by Bachmann fundraiser Guy Short, who was serving as the campaign’s national political director.
“Congresswoman Bachmann knew of and approved this arrangement,” Parrish said in his affidavit. “She, like the rest of us, understood from Senator Sorenson that it did not run afoul of any Iowa Senate ethics rules. We relied on his representations in this regard.”
Sorensen, who switched allegiances from Bachmann to Ron Paul days before the 2012 Iowa caucuses, has called the payment allegations “totally baseless.”
Parrish, a close Bachmann aide who worked in her congressional office and on her presidential bid, said he was instrumental in recruiting Sorenson, a Tea Party figure who served as the chairman of Bachmann’s Iowa campaign.
Bachmann’s campaign acknowledged the restrictions Sorenson faced in an October 27, 2011, press release, two months before the Iowa Caucuses, where she finished sixth and dropped out: “Sorenson is serving in a full-time role but state Senate rules preclude lawmakers from being paid by the campaign.”
But according to Parrish, Sorenson was instead paid indirectly through C&M Strategies. Such an arrangement could potentially skirt Iowa ethics rules designed to avoid conflicts of interest between state officials and candidates in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.
Short is also the subject of an FEC inquiry because he was being paid by Bachmann’s independent political organization, MichelePAC, at the same time that he was working on her presidential campaign, a potential violation of federal election rules.
Attorneys for Short and the Bachmann campaign say his work for Michele PAC, which paid him $40,000 in the months preceding and after the caucuses, was separate from his campaign work.
The alleged financial improprieties are the subject of a separate inquiry by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which is also looking into whether the campaign improperly helped promote Bachmann’s political memoir, Core of Conviction.
The investigations are part of a growing web of legal problems facing Bachmann, including a lawsuit by former staffer Barbara Heki alleging that Sorenson stole a proprietary e-mail list of Iowa home-school families from her personal computer. Those allegations also are the subject of an ongoing police investigation in Urbandale, Iowa.
Here is the affidavit:

Parrish Affidavit

Fergus Falls band to march in Obama's inaugural parade

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: December 19, 2012 - 3:21 PM

Toot the horns and bang the drums, the Fergus Falls High School Marching band will be joining the inaugural parade.

The January 21 parade will be President Barack Obama's second inauguration and the band's second inaugural parade performance. The students, from a city of just 13,000, marched four years ago wearing crisp white uniforms and tufted headpieces.

Four years ago, the band director said the Fergus Falls group was picked from among 1,300 applicants. This year the competition was even stiffer. The inaugural committee said that more than 2,800 groups applied to march in the parade.

See photos of the band's 2009 preparations and trip to DC.

Here's a video of the group's Yankee Doodle Dandy performance:


Bipartisan bunch pushes National Popular Vote

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: December 17, 2012 - 11:39 AM

On the same day Minnesota's presidential electors will ceremonially cast their votes for President Barack Obama, a bipartisan bunch of Minnesota lawmakers proposed exchanging the power of the Electoral College and making the national popular vote supreme.

The new system, backed by a diverse group of legislators, would give weight to the number of actual votes presidential candidates get, rather than just number of Electoral College votes, in presidential elections. A diverse group of Minnesota backers say it would  mean every vote would have equal value during presidential campaigns, removing the candidates' incentive to focus primarily on the handful swing states.

"Everyone understands that places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, swing states, this is a really good process for them right now. Unfortunately, the rest of the country gets hosed," backer Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said Monday.

The idea of swapping the power of the electoral college for a popular vote system is not new. A Minnesota measure to join a national compact pass a single committee passed a Republican-controlled House committee last year but never got a full vote in either the House or the Senate.

But, with another presidential election in which Minnesota was all but ignored in the rear view, supporters hope the change will be embraced.

"It's an idea whose time is come," said backer Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope. Rep. Steve Simon, incoming chair of the House elections committee and a St. Louis Park Democrat, is a support and outgoing House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, supported the 2011 measure.

Detractors fear the a popular vote system would mean that candidates would focus only on populous states and fear the specter of a national recount, which could paralyze the process.

This year's national Republican Party platform took a strong position against the idea.

"We recognize that an unconstitutional effort to impose “national popular vote” would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency," the GOP platform says. The national Democratic platform lacks a similar position.

The current proposal would not dump the electoral college system completely, which would require a constitutional amendment. Instead, if it wins approval, it would guarantee that presidential electors would give their votes to whomever wins the popular vote. 

For the change to take effect, states across the country, whose votes are worth 270 electoral college votes, would have to approve a compact giving power to the national popular vote. So far, nine states, with 132 electoral votes, have approved the plan.

"We're almost half way to where we need to be to change the system constitutionally," said Pat Rosenstiel, consultant to the National Popular Vote campaign.

At noon on Monday, Minnesota's presidential electors -- all Democrats -- will meet to cast their ballots for Obama at the State Capitol.


Pawlenty visits White House on 'fiscal cliff'

Posted by: Updated: December 6, 2012 - 1:15 PM
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty visited the White House Thursday representing the Financial Services Roundtable, according to a White House official and a spokeswoman for the bank lobby group he now heads.
Pawlenty, a former presidential contender, was in the West Wing to discuss business issues related to the “fiscal cliff.”  A White House official said he met only with staff, not President Obama.
Elise Brooks Perkins, communications director for the Financial Services Roundtable, said she could not discuss any other details about the meeting.
Pawlenty is the chief executive of the Financial Services Roundtable, an organization that represents large banks and other financial-service providers.
The visit comes a day after Pawlenty suggested the Democrats have the upper hand in fiscal cliff negotiations, telling a panel sponsored by Bloomberg Government in Washington, “You can’t corner people so totally and so badly that they have no way out.”


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