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campaign finance

American Promise, a national cross-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to winning a 28th Amendment that will overturn Citizens United v. FEC, set reasonable spending limits in elections, and secure the political equality of all Americans, will be launching a new American Promise Association (APA) in St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday, February 11 at 1:30PM at the Edina Library Meeting Room, 5280 Grandview Square, Edina, MN 55436 to rally citizens in support of a 28th Amendment. RSVP Here


A resolution in the state legislature calling on Congress to pass the We the People Amendment was first introduced in 2012. This amendment states that “Artificial entities such as corporations do not have constitutional rights” and “Money is not free speech.” Similar resolutions have passed in 18 states.


“No matter what issue you are concerned about, including human rights, climate change, small businesses, family farming, or minimum wage, nothing will change without passing a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that personhood belongs to humans only and money does not equal speech.” Said Vicki Barnes, one of the founding members of Minnesota’s American Promise Association.


A Bloomberg poll of 2015 finds that 80% of Americans agree with overturning Citizens United; a Hart Research/American Viewpoint poll of Business Leaders for The Committee for Economic Development done in 2013 showed that 70% of business leaders think that super PACs should be made illegal and 89% supported limits on donations to political candidates and groups.


So far 18 states and over 740 cities and towns have passed 28th Amendment resolutions with cross-partisan support.  In Montana and Colorado, voters have approved 28th Amendment ballot initiatives by 75-25%. In November, Washington State became the 18th State to call for the 28th Amendment, with a voter initiative passing by wide margins in every region and every Congressional district of the state.


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.


courtroomThis was said about a campaign finance law: “As other histories tell us, attempts to purify the public square lead to places like the Guillotine and the Gulag.” That wasn’t said on some conspiracy theory site like World Net Daily or Infowars. It wasn’t in one of those forwarded e-mails you get from your wingnut crazy uncle. That was said by a federal judge. In an opinion!
That nutty sentence came from U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa, in an opinion where he didn’t merely stop a prosecutors from continuing to try a case, because the case was still in the investigation stage. He stopped the investigation. Prosecutors can’t even look into it further than they have, and he ordered them to return or destroy all evidence to guarantee no one can ever investigate again. The targets were the campaign of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and some outside groups who supported him, for allegations of illegal coordination. Randa cited McCutcheon and Citizens United, neither of which apply here, so coordination between independent groups and candidates’ campaigns is still illegal.
Randa was appointed by a Republican president. Try not to act shocked. Oooh, well done. Though you might be slightly surprised that he was appointed by the senior Bush, supposedly the less ideological one. Can you imagine a Democratic president appointing a judge who would say regulating campaign finance leads to the guillotine and the gulag? Whatever disagreements you’ve had with modern Democratic presidents on whatever issues, you’ve known that at least they’re not going to appoint judges like Randa.

That’s why it matters which party wins and gets to appoint judges. Stakes are a lot lower at the state level, but the argument still applies since governors appoint judges too. Who wins matters. A lot. If you need just one reason to vote, to get someone else to vote, to care who wins, judges are it. The damage they can do, well, let’s put it this way: without the 5-4 conservative majority majority on the Supreme Court, we would still have campaign finance laws. We wouldn’t have judicial abetment of the running-amok of big business. Bush Jr. would not have been allowed to steal an election. If you want a Rosetta Stone to understand the conservative judiciary, look at where big business and billionaires care, and where they don’t care. Where they care, they get what they want.

The next person who says the parties are the same, or it doesn’t matter who wins, is too big a fool to be listened to any further.

Fortunately in this one case, hope is not lost. The appeals court stayed the ruling. They allowed Randa to still stop the investigation, but the ordered the evidence gathered thus far to be preserved. Here’s hoping the overturn the ruling, and that if there was a crime committed, the investigators will have time to complete it before the Supreme Court throws it out. By a 5-4 majority, of course.

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Facepalm 42Hann

Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) could very well be in some real trouble. A federal PAC for which he is Treasurer paid a former State Senator to work on Minnesota legislative races. This is illegal.
This isn’t Hann’s first ethical lapse. There seems to be a pattern of disregard for ethics and law.
While chairing the committee that oversaw Minnesota’s health insurance industry, he took a job with an insurance firm. Then he tried to hide it. The other legislator who took the same job, resigned under pressure.
He was one of the leaders who knew about the affair between Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and former sleaze-blogger, Deputy Party Chair and Communications Director for the Senate Majority Caucus. He lied about what he knew and when he knew it. He was never closely questioned by MN’s media.
In the run-up to the 2012 elections, Hann was associated with a Lunch Hour Lit Drop. Hann was a leader in the caucus and was surely aware of Republican staffers breaking the law and campaigning on state time.
Here’s the details on the latest illegal activity:


This is really sweet.  It would be cool to see it more widely reported, just to rub the righties’ ugly faces in it.

The Sunlight Foundation released a report Thursday calculating return on investment for outside spending groups in the 2012 election based on what percentage of their spending went to races that ended up with the desired results. Planned Parenthood’s super PAC got the best return.

98.58% of their targeted election spending helped lead to the desired result. Compared with, for example, 1.29% (not a misprint) for the far-right, women’s rights-bashing American Crossroads.  More below the fold.
It’s important to bear in mind that the reactionary War on Women zealots will never, ever give up; fear and hate, grounded in ignorance, are too fundamental to what they are.  The only real solution is to remove them from power entirely, and we’re a long way from that.

That doesn’t mean the war is over. Oh, no. In fact, plenty of conservatives are already dedicating themselves to pushing it further, insisting that the reason Republicans were so thoroughly ass-kicked on Tuesday was because they weren’t extreme enough. It wasn’t sufficient for Mitt Romney to vow to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. It wasn’t sufficient for him to put Paul Ryan, a fierce advocate for stripping women of their basic rights, on his ticket. And as for all those god-awful casual comments about rape? Well, that was just the mean liberal media taking things out of context by showing video of Republicans making god-awful casual comments about rape.

While we managed to send a lot of the bad guys packing, many remain, including the same anti-woman representatives and senators who brought us 67 abortion bills this session and will no doubt try again in the next one.

In the spirit of the above, while Willard is done, his ideology remains, among far too many.


Citizens United still needs to be undone

by Joe Bodell on November 7, 2012 · 0 comments

President Obama is on his way to McCormick Place to deliver his victory speech, and I started thinking about this next term. What really needs to be done?

Obviously the fiscal cliff looms, and things need doing on that front. But I can imagine several scenarios in which excuses are made not to undo Citizens United and to oppose moves to re-regulate political campaign finances.

How? Well, obviously, since President Obama won, the Super PAC system that’s risen in the wake of Citizens United can’t have corrupted democracy too badly, right?

No. Citizens United MUST be undone. Freedom of Speech does not mean the ability to buy elections, and it does not mean that corporations are people, and it does not mean more access for the rich than for everyone else.

It’s going to be some time before we can analyze the effect of the Super PACs on down-ballot races, especially in the House of Representatives, but we know enough that we should all understand how corrupt this system could become in very, very short order.

That fight starts next week. This week, we celebrate.


UPDATE: Please read the comment (below) for an explanation from the Alexander campaign —

Former Republican Ian Alexander has a few problems with his campaign finance report. Alexander is running in the DFL Primary for the 59B seat vacated by Bobby Champion who is running to replace Sen. Linda Higgins. He faces Terra Cole and Ray Dehn next Tuesday, August 14, 2012.

Alexander says he raised $18,324 yet only has $4,908.84 left. What happened to the $13,415.16 that is unaccounted for? He says his campaign only spent $50. Unfortunately, the math doesn’t match. (Click on the image below to go to the report.)

This missing $13K+ most likely went for literature, mailings and fundraising. Its unlikely anyone donated the printing and mailing costs and his report does not indicate much of any In Kind contributions.


Republicans candidates for State Senate in Minnesota may have illegally circumvented actually raising the necessary amounts to qualify for public finance matching money. They are alleged to have asked donors for a contribution which would be immediately repaid out of the candidates personal account.

Many Republicans may be involved including Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, Senate Tax Chair Julianne Ortman, Senate President/President of the Senate/Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee/Republican Senate Caucus Campaign Re-election Chair Michelle Fishchbach and Ethics Committee member Senator Bill Ingebritsen. These four were at least aware according to the complaints filed with the Campaign Finance Board, St. Louis County Attorney.

I examined the emails sent by Brandon Anderson. Candidates Eric Langness and Torrey Westrum expressed interest in participating in the scam. It seems like pretty much all the MNGOP Senate candidates received the email and were at least aware of the scam. At this point we don’t actually know how many participated in it.

Minnesota has a public financing system to encourage candidates who aren’t wealthy or able to raise vast sums. If a candidate raises a minimum amount, they get a match from the state. If a candidate agrees to abide by the guidelines and their opponent exceeds the suggested limits, the candidate gets extra money from the state. This encourages reasonably priced legislative races.

You can read the email below the fold …

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Send me $50 and I’ll send you $50. Simple. I am prepared to do such; I have the personal
funds available.

I am a first-time candidate running against 12-year incumbent Dave Tomassoni here in District 6 in the northeast, which includes the Iron Range and our future precious metals mines, PolyMet and Twin Metals. I am endorsed by the party.

Things have been going great for me, but right now I am a little over $800 short of the $3000 goal required by Monday to qualify for the public subsidy. I have plenty of known available donors; my only roadblock is that I don’t have the time to collect. I work 45+ hours per week, mix that with the commute and frequent stops at the bank and gas station, and it nearly a 50hr commitment. Then there’s meetings, interviews, softball,
children, weddings, vehicles to maintain, grass that keeps growing, etc. Life is hectic.

I’ve found that simple fundraising letters have a low chance of success, but the follow-up calls make a huge difference. That, or face-to-face contact, easily brings in donations. But the average call has been taking 15 minutes, and any face-to-face is a longer commitment than that. I was laying in bed last night unable to sleep, crunching numbers (I’m an engineer so I’m a numbers/data guy) and realized I have only a slim chance of hitting the goal before midnight Monday with the time available to me.

Suddenly it occurred to me I have all of you, who are or at one time were, first time candidates like myself, and you know how tough this can be. We all have a vested interest in seeing each other’s campaigns succeed, to maintain our majority in St. Paul. And I happen to have right now the cash to reciprocate your donations. (‘Necessity breeds creativity’, or ‘desperation breeds innovation’. Either way, has anyone ever tried this before?) This area has had Democratic Senators for 98 years. Mindset here has changed rapidly though in the last 8 years or so. Just look at Cravaack’s ousting of Oberstar 2 years ago. (I am pretty much following in his footsteps, being the same political neophyte.) Now last week the 49ers union endorsed Chip over his 3 DFL opponents. Our 2 biggest unions here at 49ers and Steelworkers. Steelworkers are weakening as well, since a majority of miners began their career between ’74 and ’80, so there has been massive mine employee turnover since 2004, with the staunch old union democrats being replaced by more fair-minded Generation X and Y constituents.

I am going to beat Tomassoni. He’s sitting on his laurels, no parades, no signs, he figures he’s got it all wrapped up again without any effort, but this time he’s going to get a wakeup.

I’ve done 8 parades so far and talked to hundred of people, to great reception. I’ve already handed out almost 5000 business cards, so that’s a good start.

Getting the public subsidy is paramount, as you all know how important advertising is to winning.

So, send me $50 and I’ll send you $50. Or if you have a spouse, go ahead and send $100 and I’ll return the same.

ASAP, only 5 days left.

Be sure to send the required info (name, address, employer.) Reply to this email to let me now how much you are sending and by which method, and your donation info for the best way I can return the favor ASAP.

I can take Paypal to mailto:GOP-BDA@

I can do credit cards on my smartphone; send me name on card, #, exp, and 3-digit security code on back.

Checks or cash to ‘Brandon D Anderson for SD6’
615 NE 5th St, Chisholm 55719.

Thank you all, here’s to wins for us all in fall!
* * *
Brandon Anderson
GOP-endorsed MN Senate District 6 Candidate


The organization Move To Amend is fighting the Citizens United ruling that deemed corporations people. To that end they are working to get all levels of government to pass resolutions opposing corporate personhood. This week is Resolutions Week.

The folks in the St. Paul branch are aiming to get the St. Paul City Council to pass a resolution. Council Member Dave Thune will introduce it. The vote will occur this Wednesday at 3:30PM and will be followed by a press conference and rally.

RESOLVED, the People of St. Paul, Minn., stand with the Move to Amend campaign and communities across the country to defend democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate power by amending the United States Constitution to establish that:
  1. Only human beings, not corporations, are endowed with constitutional rights, and
  2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the People of St. Paul, Minn., hereby instruct our state and federal representatives to enact resolutions and legislation to advance this effort.


ALEC investigated

by The Big E on May 30, 2012 · 1 comment

First I heard from DFL legislators complaining that during committee hearings some Republicans were unable to answer questions about bills they authored. I remember one Representative quipping “it was like he didn’t even write the bill himself.”

In a world where corporate lobbyists often draft bills for their Republican allies, this sounded sadly typical of the MNGOP. But it turned out to be far more insidious.

Republican legislators across the nation actually just copy-pasted boilerplate language that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) approved. All many MNGOP legislators had to do was change [Your State Here] to Minnesota and the like.

Eventually, the word started to get out about the extent of ALEC’s control of Minnesota Republican legislators. is a great starting point. They have a MN page listing all bills they are aware of that are ALEC bills.

ALEC files as a tax-exempt charitable organization. However, they behave much more like a lobbyist. Charities cannot lobby.

Common Cause cause has been tracking ALEC’s MN activity and filed a complaint with our Campaign Finance Board.

Today, the Campaign Finance Board agreed to investigate ALEC:

The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board says it will investigate the American Legislative Exchange Council’s lobbying status in Minnesota.

The board disclosed the investigation in a letter to Common Cause Minnesota, the local arm of a national group that is asking many states to probe whether the conservative organization has violated its tax-exempt status.

Hopefully, Attorney General Lori Swanson and the IRS will also investigate.

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