A few unusual phone calls on the Minnesota Senate floor Tuesday resulted in political mud-slinging through the week.
During the Senate floor debate of a $1 billion bonding bill, private phone lines for senators and staff began ringing from about 15 callers wanting to voice their displeasure with government spending.
Callers told DFL lawmakers they were contacted by the Minnesota Republican Party and asked if they were against government waste. If they said yes and wanted to talk to a lawmaker, they were patched through to the Senate floor.
“This is very concerning; I think this is outside the traditions of the Senate,” Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, a DFLer, said on the Senate floor. “I ask, I ask that whoever gave those numbers out please stop doing that. I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
At the time, Republicans issued a news release saying taxpayers paid for the phones and have the right to let their opinion be known.
At a meeting with reporters Friday, a top Republican lawmaker said the calls were not appropriate.
"I think the party made a mistake," said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina. "And we'd ask them to not do it."
Pogemiller directed his frustration at Michael Brodkorb, who has dual roles as spokesman for senate Republicans and deputy chairman of the state GOP.
Pogemiller asked: When he is in the building, is he a Republican operative or a Senate staffer? “He needs to consider that.”
Brodkorb declined comment Friday.
Tony Sutton, chairman of the state Republican Party, wouldn’t say how the party got the phone numbers.