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Attorney General

Weird happenings with DFL Convention and Filings

by Eric Ferguson on June 6, 2018 · 1 comment

Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state conventionSo by now, you’ve likely had your head spinning from the news from the DFL side regarding who is running for what, and lots of candidates coming out of the woodwork to run for this and switch to that, and run for something when they were running for something else. It’s interesting, at least to a politics junkie, and you’re reading this web site, so…

You were likely looking at the governor race, and this involves that to be sure. You may not have been following closely enough to know the candidate filing period just closed, or you heard but didn’t care what that meant. The weirdness has a whole lot to do with that however. It all starts, however, with the race for state attorney general (AG). Yes, an office a lot of people haven’t even heard of.

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2018 DFL State Convention Day 2

by Eric Ferguson on June 2, 2018 · 7 comments

Yesterday’s live blog got really long, so I decided to start a fresh post for today. See yesterday for an intro to what a live blog is, disclosure of biases, yesterday’s events, and I’m unlikely to explain procedural stuff or regurgitate opinions explained in yesterday’s live blog.
If you want to watch the live stream, go to The Uptake web site. If you want to glance over at the MNGOP convention also going this weekend, go here.
Today is governor and attorney general. My wife snapped a photo of the Matt Pelikan pelican in the concourse outside the convention hall. That’s fun.
Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state convention
The convention has reconvened. Lots of delegates missed yesterday, unsurprisingly since governor is the big attraction, so rules and procedures are being explained again. The noise level on the floor is more obvious here than watching on the live stream. So if you’re streaming, feel smug that you can hear better than people here. Though those of us here can hear the videos since we’re not under Youtube’s thumb. So there.


DFL State Convention Live Blog

by Eric Ferguson on May 31, 2018 · 3 comments

The DFL state convention starts tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on June 1). A “live blog” means that I’ll be blogging about it as it happens rather than writing up something later. I’ll be explaining what’s going on, and maybe opining on some things. We’ll see what provokes me to opinionating. The current plan is to watch the livestream on The Uptake Friday, which obviously you can watch yourself and I’ll post a link so you can do that. Saturday, I’m hoping to be there watching in person, so hopefully I’ll pick up some stuff that’s not apparent on the livestream. Sunday will likely be another livestream day. Yes, I maybe could have gotten a hotel if I hadn’t been so cheap and tried to reserve a room early enough and blah de blah. Fortunately I live in daytripping distance.

Convening time Friday is 4. The rest of the schedule I assume will be adjusted according to circumstances. The proposed agenda is posted here. Emphasis on proposed, since delegates can move to change the agenda when the rules and agenda are debated, and you never know for sure what will be proposed and what will pass. I’ve run some conventions as a local party chair, and worked on some as a committee member or with a campaign, and can attest that unexpected changes get made. I’ll spare you the “expect the unexpected” cliche — except I guess I just didn’t. You should have expected that. What you can expect is I will explain some of the “what on earth are they talking about” parts that conventions have.
Probably, you care more about the state office endorsements and not committee reports or party office elections or rules debates. So, according to the proposed agenda, Friday will see the endorsements for the US Senate seats and Secretary of State. Attorney General and Governor are scheduled for Saturday, and Auditor is scheduled for Sunday.
Actual updates and reportage start below. Keep refreshing during the convention for updates. If you’re curious about the 2014 or 2016 convention, check out those live blogs. See if you can catch me griping the same gripes (yes, you can).



Entenza violated campaign finance laws

by Eric Ferguson on August 3, 2014 · 7 comments

Rebecca_Otto_Matt_Entenza.jpgMatt Entenza had campaign finance violations in past campaigns, and if I were to explain them with the same accuracy and fairness Entenza is bringing to his attacks on Rebecca Otto, I might write something like this: Matt Entenza apparently thinks campaign finance laws don’t apply to him. Maybe he just wanted to be the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s pen pal, because he sure keeps having to explain himself. Illegal contributions, forgetting to report spending, having to return money, even MPR says he seems to be trying to do it all.
Was the preceding paragraph twisted and exaggerated? Obviously, which is really the point. Well, maybe not obvious if you don’t dig in to what actually happened, or at least read my other posts on the auditor race and notice I’m a Rebecca Otto partisan so maybe you should check before believing. It might sound reasonable if you have the misimpression that candidates are all experts on campaign finance law. They’re not. Maybe you think every campaign staffer is a 40-year-old with 50 years of experience; more likely 22-years old with three months experience. Certainly I find campaign finance laws complicated, having not studied. I mostly just hope to never accidentally run afoul because I didn’t know to ask a question or someone else screwed up and made it my problem.
What I do have is a greater respect for factual accuracy than Entenza has exhibited in his ambush campaign against Otto. He’s doing to her with his “voter ID” charge what I did to him in the first paragraph: make an attack by twisting isolated incidents barely on the margins of factual accuracy with a hope of finding an audience that will believe it without checking. Though frankly, I’m not exaggerating as much.


DFL state convention live blog

by Eric Ferguson on June 1, 2014 · 9 comments

I’m at the DFL state convention, and I’ll be live blogging it, which means I’ll be posting updates below. The video above is an introduction similar to this, just for kicks. Feel free to subscribe to my channel. I may post video updates if opportunity arises, but I’ll generally be where people are trying to talk or people are trying to hear, so no promises, but I’ll see if I can show some of what goes on at a convention. Otherwise I’ll be posting what’s happening, maybe with an opinion since I’m allowed to do that. It’s a blog you know, and I’m not pretending to be a reporter or to be without biases. Jump to a preview of what’s going to happen.
Late Saturday update: The Saturday portion of this live blog got very long and made the front page a long scroll, and there are other posts worth reading. So I’m putting the “read more” below this paragraph, and the time stamped updates start on the jump. As expected, life required my presence at home, but I plan to live blog Sunday too, if I can get The Uptake’s stream working for me (quickie update: it worked). I suppose it depends on traffic, but I should have a better connection anyway. The mining resolution is expected to be the controversial part of the platform debates. Guess we’ll watch and see. Some things, like the constitution changes, might be inside baseball, but leave a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer.


Scott Newman to run for Attorney General

by Eric Ferguson on May 27, 2014 · 4 comments

Sen. Scott Newman, voting rights opponenth/t
Well, I suppose the MNGOP has to run someone for state Attorney General. If you’ve heard of State Sen. Scott Newman for anything, it’s likely for telling constituents to get lost if they didn’t support his election. You might know him for bringing us the photo ID amendment. Maybe, if your memory is really good, you recall that Newman was so enthusiastic about shutting down the state government in 2011 (yes, MNGOP, that was your doing, and DFL, don’t let the voters forget), that he sued to prevent even the most crucial functions from continuing, including emptying the prisons so we wouldn’t have to pay the guards. Perhaps, following up on the only real illegal voting found during the photo ID debate, where former felons voted or registered before they were eligible, you recall Newman blocked an effort to inform felons of their voting status. Apparently “election integrity” is so important to him, that he prefers people have to guess at their eligibility.
I know the Republicans have to run someone, but I hope this isn’t the best they’ve got. Are they really about to stick themselves with an AG candidate who thinks he serves only those who supported his election when as the state’s lawyer, he’s supposed to serve all of us; who wanted to shut down the government so badly that even public safety had to stop, in an unusual position for an AG; who wants to stop voting by those he disagrees with so badly, that he tried to put restrictions on voting rights in the state constitution, and then he blocked a simple way to clear up the only real illegal voting? The Republicans aren’t nominating an attorney general: they’re nominating a saboteur.
The DFL candidate is incumbent attorney general Lori Swanson. Her first couple elections were close enough that she can’t assume anything, so a bit of cash her way might not come amiss. And remember that donations to candidates for state offices are eligible for the Political Contribution Refund.

Of course, Newman does still have to win endorsement at this weekend’s MNGOP convention, and maybe a reasonable candidate will still step up, or at least someone not wearing the tin foil hat of voter fraud. Oh wait, this is today’s GOP. Never mind.


Right now, state and federal officials are negotiating a settlement with the five largest perpetrators of our foreclosure crisis.  The settlement would be in the ballpark of $20-25 billion.  But the most glaring part of this proposed agreement is the freedom from all liability for their criminal conduct.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson took a stand on behalf of what is right:

Banks shouldn’t be protected from liability for mortgage securitization as part of a national foreclosure settlement, said Minnesota’s attorney general, joining other states voicing concern over the issue.

Any settlement shouldn’t release the banks from liability for the bundling of mortgages into securities or for the use of a mortgage registry known as MERS, Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a Sept. 9 letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

“The banks should not be released from liability for conduct that has not been investigated and is not appropriately remedied in any settlement,” Swanson wrote to her counterparts in New York and Iowa.

If I were to create a Ponzi Scheme selling my debt as a lucrative investment, I’d be in jail.  The only reason its taken this long for any kind of punishment to appear on the horizon is that the banksters own Congress.


We haven’t really discussed the Attorney General’s race too much this cycle — the seat has been held by a DFLer since time immemorial, and current AG Lori Swanson hasn’t done much to disappoint Minnesota in her first term. After all, as one experienced campaign operative once told me, “what, you think Minnesota’s going to vote for a Republican to do consumer protection?”

And it’s a salient point. In Minnesota the Attorney General is the head consumer protection advocate, charged with enforcing all existing corporate regulations and liaising with the Legislature on large-scale legal matters. The Tea Party’s platform opposes most if not all existing corporate regulations and consumer protections for some awful reason or another, so could a candidate like Chris Barden really be trusted with the job?

Cue the comparisons to Dan “I’d like to be called Doc for the Google Juice please” Severson, Republican nominee for Secretary of State, who complains about the current regulations on the books but is running for an office charged with enforcing those existing regulations to the best of his ability. Makes you wonder if these candidates actually read the job descriptions before deciding to run, doesn’t it? I digress. Onward.

Swanson isn’t Superwoman. Nor is she, in my personal opinion, currently a “candidate to watch” for higher office down the road. She had a tough row to hoe in stepping out from Mike Hatch’s shadow, and has had some rough patches doing that and dealing with some labor issues in the AG’s office which continue to be rumored but never spoken about on the record.

However, she is a good lawyer who’s done pretty well by Minnesota as its Attorney General, and deserves a second term.

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The answer to which one is fake, voter fraud edition

by Eric Ferguson on October 14, 2010 · 0 comments

So which of these voter fraud stories was fake? Yes I know, the whole idea of voter fraud is pretty much fake. It’s hard to find, outside Republican paranoid fantasies. Three of these stories were real news stories however. This time, the fake comes last just to build suspense. Can you feel the suspense building? Fine, humor me.

Republican secretary of state candidate calls voter fraud just “silly mistakes”: REAL. The catch is the fraud he calls “silly mistakes” is his own. Charlie White, Republican candidate for secretary of state in Indiana, registered and voted where he used to live instead of where he did live. It looks like he did this because he stayed on the town council after moving out of town. Did his vote change any elections? Probably not, which is part of the problem with claiming voter fraud: the fraudulent voter gets one vote, whereas the GOP operative (or crooked secretary of state) with the caging list can disenfranchise tens of thousands of people — with a tiny fraction of the risk of jail that faces the illegal voter.

Of course, since he described his knowing violations of the law as “silly mistakes”, he’ll be forgiving of former felons who mistakenly thought their voting rights were restored, right? And there would be no problem with Democratic candidates doing this, right? IOKIYAR (one of those internet acronyms: It’s OK If You’re A Republican)
MNGOP AG candidate thinks illegal aliens vote due to vouching: REAL Granted the link is a report on what Chris Barden said at a press conference, but his web site also has not one bit of proof for what he seems to be claiming as fact rather than suspicion.

If you think a group of people anxious to avoid attention or anything to do with contacting the government is going to take a very high risk of deportation just to vote, you might be a paranoid neo-Know Nothing conspiracy theorist — no wonder he won endorsement easily.

Tea partiers show voter registrations include vacant lots: REAL They also found 40 registrations from an eight-bed half-way house. Of course, they didn’t check some obvious things, like whether the registrations at vacant lots occurred when there were still houses there, and whether residents at half-way houses maybe stay just a short time. This is in Houston, but it sounds like the quality of data produced by Minnesota Majority. Voter registration rolls get purged regularly of voters who haven’t voted for a certain period of time, which is a way of removing people who moved. If they had evidence that 40 people actually voted in the last election while registered at an address that holds just eight, then might have something. They don’t. They do seem to have slowed down the registration of non-white people in Houston, which is presumably the point of cracking down on non-existent fraud.

Once they realize how these “fraudulent” registrations actually happened, maybe they’ll support a reform Mark Ritchie has proposed for Minnesota, where the registration would follow the voter to new addresses. Voters could change the address on their one registration instead of registering at each new address, and being registered at multiple addresses. That would also make registration rolls much smaller. Will any Republicans go for that? Nah, they’ll assume ACORN is pulling something (lack of existence not withstanding).

2% of voters in photo ID states used fake IDs: FAKE — I think. I’m sure I made it up, but it seems like a big gap in the argument that photo IDs will stop voting fraud. If we rely heavily on photo Ids, won’t every kid with a fake ID for buying liquor now be able to vote? Can’t anyone who can make or buy an ID get one vote per ID? Only someone who refuses to accept the evidence that voter fraud is rare can fail to see that. I can think of ways using fake IDs would still be difficult, but not one of those difficulties doesn’t apply already.


Which one is fake, voter fraud edition

by Eric Ferguson on October 13, 2010 · 0 comments

UPDATE: Here is the answer.

While assembling stories for the last “Which one is fake?”, I found I had three stories relating to voter fraud, so I separated them out for their own fun. Maybe the common thread will make this easier. Or harder. I really don’t know.

I do know that one of these stories is as fake as Republican claims of voter fraud, and three are as real as their obsession with it.

I suppose a theme makes it easier to search out the stories if you’re inclined to do that, but part of the fun is seeing if you can identify the fake from your own news consumption and whatever logic you can apply.

So which one is it? Vote in the poll (you’ll have to click “There’s More”) and show your work in the comments if you care to.

Republican secretary of state candidate calls voter fraud just “silly mistakes”

MNGOP AG candidate thinks illegal aliens vote due to vouching

2% of voters in photo ID states used fake IDs

Tea partiers show voter registrations include vacant lots

As usual, look for the answer about 24 hours of the question goes up.

UPDATE: Here is the answer.