But Ortman wasn’t about to let facts get in her way:
State Senator Julianne Ortman held a press conference today to try and finger U.S. Senator Al Franken for playing a role in the current controversy over the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) giving unwarranted scrutiny to certain conservative 501(c)(4) groups.
In 2012, Franken and a group of other Democratic Senators sent two letters to the IRS, requesting that they give added scrutiny to 501(c)(4) groups. Both progressive and conservative organizations had been setting such groups up because they are tax-exempt and not subject to campaign finance disclosures.
(<http://brickcityblog.com/2013/05/16/its-totally-not-about-that/”>Brick City Blog)
Ortman wasn’t about to mention that the letters did not mention targeting RWNJ groups, but ALL tax-exempt groups involved in politics. As Sean Olsen at Brick City Blog notes: “ideology doesn’t come up in either letter.”
If your investment broker committed fraud and you lost money or worse, most often you would be forced to accept an arbitration agreement. In other words, you wouldn’t be able to pursue a civil or criminal complaint against the bankster who screwed you over.
Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN) wants to eliminate this protection for banksters.
Franken and a group of key Senate and House colleagues urged the SEC to use its existing authority to prevent mandatory arbitration clauses in broker-investor contracts. The need for the SEC to act increased after one of the country’s largest brokerage firms decided to dramatically expand its mandatory arbitration provisions in a way that would harm investors.
“We are deeply concerned that the Commission’s failure to respond to the dangers posed by widespread forced arbitration will weaken existing investor protections,” wrote Sen. Franken and his colleagues in their letter. “We urge the Commission to act quickly to exercise its authority…to prevent this practice and protect investor rights.”
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) may or may not have plans to run against Sen. Al Franken or against Governor Mark Dayton in 2014. Paulsen has stayed out of the limelight since winning election in 2008 to the MN-03 district which encompasses the western suburbs of Minneapolis.
“I can’t comment on the interpretation of others..on remarks that I’ve made. But my message has been consistent,” said Paulsen, who said he has had no conversations with anyone at the National Republican Senatorial Committee about a possible run.
You would hold this opinion if you read the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Other sources, like MPR, beg to differ:
Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen said today he is not ruling out a run for higher office in 2014.
Paulsen has been mentioned as a possible challenger to DFL Senator Al Franken. In the past month, he has told several people that he’s not interested in running for Senate – only to have his aides quickly retract those statements.
After a news conference in St. Paul, Paulsen said everything is on the table, including a run for Senate or a run for governor.
The real reason that Paulsen wouldn’t be interested is the polling numbers. PPP released a poll in late January showing Franken leading Paulsen in a hypothetical 2014 race 50-39%.
Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN) signed a letter along with other US Senators from both parties requesting more information about an Obama Administration claim that they have the legal authority to assassinate American citizens. While the Obama Administration claims that this is only to combat Al Queda overseas, it’s still scary.
In these United States Police States of America, our government has the ability (because of the elimination of FISA) to invade our privacy and read American citizen’s emails and wiretap our phones without any oversight of any kind. Our government tortures American citizens. The Bush Administration suspended habeaus corpus. Now the Obama Administration has allowed itself the privilege of taking out American citizens with drone strikes.
Normally, the execution of Americans requires a conviction by trial then a sentencing and allows for appeal. It’s kind of hard to appeal a drone strike.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Al Franken is one of a bipartisan group of senators who have sent a letter to President Obama that asks for more information on the legal basis for the administration’s claim that it can kill American citizens as part of efforts against terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.
On Monday, NBC News unearthed a memo from the Department of Justice arguing that the United States government has the legal authority to kill American citizens despite a ban on assassinations that has long been U.S. policy.
The memo came to light ahead of the confirmation hearings of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. (MPR
How would a future Republican Administration abuse this ability?
What’s our government going to allow itself to do next?
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reached a handshake agreement with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that Republicans won’t abuse the filibuster. Their agreement is complete and utter bull****. Business as usual in the US Senate. SNAFU.
Unfortunately, Sen. Al Franken’s efforts, in conjunction with several others, to reform the filibuster failed. When America needs a leader in the US Senate, we are cursed with Harry Reid.
Rachel Maddow explains how this compromise is utter bull****:
The reason that Democrats cannot get anything done in the US Senate is not because of the intransigence of Republicans. The reason that Democrats cannot get anything done in the US Senate is because Harry Reid is our leader.
Reid has repeatedly promised to reform the Senate and has once again shown that his promises are empty.
Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN) will introduce and Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL) has already introduced the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act. This bill helps people in the criminal justice system get the mental health help they need.
Is this a sign that Republicans may now be serious about helping the mentally ill? Possibly.
“Minnesota’s jails and prisons are overwhelmed with people who would likely be better served by the mental health system, and many of them need better access to treatment,” said Sen. Franken. “My legislation will make our communities safer and stronger by helping our justice and mental health systems work together to provide better access to treatment for people who need it. It will also ensure that law enforcement officers stay safe when they are responding to mental health crises.”
Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been working on the measure since early 2012 to bring more resources to law enforcement, the courts, and correctional facilities. They need help so they can better deal with the increasing mental health issues they encounter.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek recently estimated that up to 30 percent of inmates in Hennepin County Jail have mental health issues. The bill would improve outcomes for the criminal justice system, the mental health system, and for those with mental health conditions by doing the following, among other things:
extending the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) for five years, thus continuing support for mental health courts and crisis intervention teams;
authorizing investments in veterans treatment courts, which serve arrested veterans who suffer from PTSD, substance addiction, and other mental health conditions;
increasing focus on corrections-based programs, such as transitional services that reduce recidivism rates and screening practices that identify inmates with mental health conditions;
supporting the development of curricula for police academies and orientations.
Our country’s ability to identify and successfully treat mental health issues has been declining since the early 1980s when we dumped the vast majority of patients out of treatment facilities and into society.
If we’re going to address the epidemic of gun violence terrorizing our country, we’re going to need to rebuild this safety net.
In a PPP poll released today, 45% of Minnesota Republicans want Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to challenge Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN) in 2014.
Republicans all know that they’ve been losing because their candidates haven’t been conservative enough. I don’t want to disabuse them of this fallacy. I have no idea how they rationalize themselves into explaining how Kurt Bills lost to Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Allen Quist lost to Rep. Tim Walz, but I’d be interested in reading the intellectual gymnastics required to fit these humbling defeats into their rationalization.
But facts aside (as if they ever mattered to Republicans), they want the gaffe-prone, fact-challenged whack job from Stillwater to face Franken.
The survey of 1,065 Minnesota voters by Public Policy Polling found Franken with a job approval rating of 52 percent. Franken’s work in the Senate received a thumbs down from 41 percent of those surveyed. Approval ratings above 50 percent tend to suggest a relatively safe position for incumbent lawmakers.
Franken also bests a wide field of potential GOP challengers in a series of hypothetical lineups including former Sen. Norm Coleman, U.S. Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Michele Bachmann. The closest any of them comes to Franken is Coleman though he still draws just 44 percent support compared to Franken’s 50 percent. Coleman has also ruled out a rematch against Franken in interviews with MPR News and other outlets.
PPP also polled a subset of 275 Minnesota Republicans about their preferences for the party’s nominee and found that Bachmann was the overwhelming favorite should she decide to run. The four term congresswoman has the support of 45 percent of the GOP voters polled which was far ahead of any other potential candidates. But Bachmann polls badly against Franken in a general election setting, drawing 40 percent support compared to Franken’s 54 percent. (MPR)
Sen. Al Franken is still looking pretty invincible.
The National Journal, preeminent RWNJ magazine and website, thinks that Al Franken may not have a strong challenger when he runs for reelection in 2014. They may have a point.
The MNGOP is in disarray. They’re broke and having trouble fundraising because they’ve done such a poor job of managing donors money (see TwoPuttTommy’s Cooked Books series). Their bench is thin.
Furthermore, Ron Paul supporters took over the party in 2012 and nominated one-term legislator and abysmal failure Kurt Bills as their candidate to challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar. But did any Minnesota Republican really stand any chance against the popular Klobuchar? Maybe Mister Bills was just a sacrificial lamb.
So the writer for the NJ talked to former Senator Snidely Whiplash Norm Coleman. The toothsome former Senator (God but I love typing that) gave a back-handed compliment about Franken being invisible which shouldn’t be surprising as I can only imagine that Norm is still mighty bitter.
What Franken has actually done is work hard for Minnesota. The details are for another post as this post is about the paucity of challengers.
The list of potential, formidable candidates is short. Coleman, in an interview with National Journal, categorically said he wasn’t going to run for the Senate in 2014, denying the GOP one of its best-known possible challengers. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a popular House member from the Twin Cities suburbs, telegraphed his own hesitance about jumping into the Senate race on a local radio show. Coleman touted Rep. John Kline, another swing-district Republican, but he has passed up previous statewide bids in favor of building up tenure in the House. And Rep. Michele Bachmann, who would be formidable in a primary, would be the Democrats’ dream challenger, given her high unfavorables even back home. She barely won re-election in a solidly-Republican House district in 2012.
What’s clear is that Minnesota Republicans are wary of jumping head first into the contest, despite the obvious opportunities against Franken. After the 2012 elections, Republican Senate candidates Shelley Moore Capito and former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds immediately announced their campaigns against Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Tim Johnson. By contrast, there’s barely been a peep from potential Franken challengers.
Franken’s ground game, fundraising, and out-of-the-limelight approach help explain why. Franken’s campaign coffers are flush with cash. His job-approval rating, according to the most recent September Star-Tribune poll, is a healthy 52 percent. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., romped to reelection last November, winning nearly every county in the expansive state. Franken has raised nearly $4 million for 2014, with nearly $1.3 million cash on hand. That would give him a healthy head start over his opposition. (By contrast, the Republican Party of Minnesota is still struggling with $1.5 million in debt.)
Over the last election cycle, Franken’s leadership PAC, Midwest Values PAC, raised $450,000 for his Senate colleagues, and Franken himself spent the election season campaigning on behalf of other Democrats, who made gains in the upper chamber. That’s a sign of confidence that he’s spending valuable time helping Democratic colleagues over preparing early for his own reelection. Such fundraising opens avenues for Franken to tap his colleagues for help come 2014.
Democratic strategists also point to the fact that Franken has consciously ignored the glare of the national media spotlight, preferring to speak to Minnesota media. They say he’s laser-focused on talking about his record to Minnesotans and point to his sponsoring of the so-called Medical Loss Ratio rule that was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act. (National Journal)
Senator Al Franken has dodged what, frankly, could have been a pretty big bullet in 2014: Erik Paulsen won’t run against him:
When asked Wednesday whether he was interested in a run for Senate, Paulsen said, “No, that’s ridiculous.”
He emphasized that he wants to use his seat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee to overhaul the tax code this year and said any legislation produced by that effort would the best way he could represent his constituents in the 3rd District, which spans the western Minneapolis suburbs.
Paulsen may be in the House Majority for the time being, but is still a back-bencher, stuck behind more than a dozen Republicans who also enjoy their seats on the committee. For a non-Tea-infused Republican, seniority and the perks that accompany it matter.
Thus, I’m not really impressed by this statement from Paulsen. But it’s still surprising — having kept up the ex-Congressman’s campaign color scheme and not had very tough reelection efforts, he’s been able to cultivate an aw-shucks, workmanesque reputation despite his having voted with Michele Bachmann more than 90% of the time. Either he’s worried about having his record vetted before the entire state’s electorate, or simply doesn’t think Franken can be beaten this cycle.
The big question now is this: who do the Republicans have left? A state legislator with no statewide profile? A former office-holder with baggage? Either way, it’s good news for Franken.
Update:or maybe not. This definitely has the stink of “keeping my options open.”
The State House has passed a bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50/hour and index it to inflation so $9.50 in today's dollars is worth an equivalent amount in next year's. The State Senate is dragging its feet, insisting on legislator pay raises *first*. Tell them to get off the sidelines, stop dragging their feet, and help raise up the working poor!