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I wish I could say I was surprised by David Fitzsimmons’ campaign finance reporting tactics. Unfortunately, I’m anything but surprised. While some might criticize John Kern’s LTE highlighting the Emmer campaign’s tactics, I won’t follow suit. This isn’t that dissimilar to how big corporations use a plethora of regulations against small business competitors to reduce competition as much as possible.

John Kern opened the LTE, writing “In July 2016, Congressman Tom Emmer’s chief of staff David Fitzsimmons and GOP delegate Matt Stevens filed multiple Federal Election Commission complaints against me, the AJ Kern for Congress campaign and a private citizen. These frivolous complaints accused me of filing quarterly reports late and apparently attempting to gain undue influence with my wife by exceeding personal campaign contribution limits from our shared assets. Eighteen months later, presidentially appointed FEC commissioners voted 5-0 to dismiss.”

That’s the predictable outcome of these FEC complaints. Rep. Emmer knew he was underperforming at the time. According to Minnesota’s Secretary of State’s website, Emmer, the incumbent, won the primary with a pathetic 68% of the vote. That’s pathetic considering the fact that Emmer “out-fundraised AJ Kern’s 2016 campaign” by a 61-1 margin.

Emmer won’t win by overwhelming margins because he’s ignored his constituents on key issues. Specifically, he’s agreed with the Obama administration lock, stock and barrel on the Refugee Resettlement Program. When questioned by constituents if he’d push for a moratorium of the program, Emmer replied “That isn’t happening.” (I know because I attended that townhall at the Ace Bar on July 1, 2015. That’s also the night Kate Steinle was murdered.) After that meeting, AJ Kern told attendees that she was thinking about challenging Emmer. Here’s the explanation for why Emmer didn’t support his constituents:

President Trump has frequently criticized “the Swamp.” Regulations implemented by the Swamp have a chilling effect on both speech and competition. The truth is that Emmer is part of DC’s Swamp. Bradley Smith, the former Commissioner of the FEC, is one of the fiercest champions of free speech. Here’s what he’s stated on the record:

Charges and litigation are used to harass opposing candidates and make political hay with the press… used most effectively by ‘incumbents’. Many, if not most, of these cases end up being dismissed, but not without distracting the campaigns and using up their resources. …The problem in campaign finance is that unethical politicians are threatening private actors, rather than that unethical special interests are threatening government.

When John McCain and Russ Feingold wrote the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, aka McCain-Feingold, grassroots activists criticized it by nicknaming it the ‘Incumbents’ Protection Act’. That’s exactly right. BCRA didn’t eliminate corruption. It codified corruption by burying challengers under mountains of paperwork. That’s what its intent was.

While career politicians might want to fight the hordes of uppity peasants insisting on being heard, those career politicians won’t silence the activists’ voices.

Emmer can take that to the bank.

A liberal front group specializing in gun control bought a full page ad in the Star Tribune. Then the Strib published this article to make sure the organization got extra mileage for their ad buy.

In the article, the Strib wrote “A mysterious group operating under the name ‘Listen to the Children’ called out four members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation Monday on their positions on gun control measures and donations from the National Rifle Association. In a full-page ad in the Star Tribune a week ago, the group asked the entire Washington delegation if they would introduce, cosponsor or vote for legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of high-capacity magazines for firearms, and if they would return any donation from the NRA and its affiliates and refuse to accept future NRA donations.”

Later, Listen to the Children “the nonprofit placed another full-page ad, saying it received ‘yes’ responses from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Tina Smith, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison, all Democrats. The ad said that Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican, was the only one to respond ‘no’ to both of the group’s questions, but a spokesman for Paulsen’s office said their organization never responded to the ad. Rep. Jason Lewis and Rep. Tom Emmer, both Republicans, and Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat, also didn’t respond to the group, which stated in the ad that it considered a lack of response as “no” answers.”

Tim Walz and Tina Smith both essentially said that they don’t think that people should have the right to defend themselves. They also said that they’d reject any contributions from the NRA. With a significant portion of NRA members being blue collar people living in rural areas, Walz and Smith are essentially turning their backs on rural blue collar voters.

I hope rural blue collar voters remember that this November.

Saturday, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Tina Smith and Rep. Emmer brought their dog and pony show to St. Cloud to talk with Electrolux employees. This isn’t a criticism of Electrolux employees. It isn’t even a criticism of the federal government, though I’m not thrilled with the fact that Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Smith voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

It’s mostly a criticism of the Dayton administration and the DFL. The DFL are the idiots who’ve created a hostile environment for companies. The DFL raised taxes. The DFL implemented unreasonable regulations. The DFL put in place systems that give special interests multiple bites at the same apple in terms of granting permits.

I can blame Sen. Klobuchar for wanting to accept more refugees than Minnesota can handle. That matters because of this information:

There’s also a segment of Somali workers, about one-quarter of the Electrolux workforce, Klobuchar said. One of the workers who spoke in the meetings is part of that community. Many of them don’t have a high school degree or came here for this job. “This is their whole life, the life they’ve known,” she said “Losing that community of the people you’ve worked with forever, you’re not going to be able to replace that and that was really heartbreaking.”

It was utterly predictable. Why would a company stay in a place and accept workers who weren’t considered part of a well-trained workforce? South Carolina has a better tax environment, a more skilled workforce and it’s a right-to-work state. Why would Electrolux choose to deal with union negotiations when it doesn’t have to?

Companies (and wealth) have been fleeing Minnesota for a couple decades. The DFL keeps pretending that everything’s just fine when things aren’t fine. It’s time for the DFL to finally admit that their policies aren’t pro-growth policies.

Today, Tina Smith will be in St. Cloud for the latest stop in her grandstanding tour. Nothing says grandstanding like hearing that “U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer will meet Saturday in St. Cloud with local leaders, economic development officials, and some Electrolux employees and union representatives to discuss the company’s plans to close its St. Cloud manufacturing facility. The meeting, which will be closed to the public, is set for 1:45 p.m. at St. Cloud City Hall. Smith, Emmer and others are expected to be available for questions from the media after the meeting.”

It isn’t that Electrolux employees don’t have questions. It’s that those questions are best answered by the people who deal with this every day. (Unfortunately, Minnesota is getting too good at this.) What’s stunning is that the meeting is closed to the public. What’s being told to these workers that can’t be discussed in public?

One thing that might’ve hurt Minnesota is the skilled workforce issue. Years ago, a study was commissioned that said this:

Robert Ady was a longtime executive of Deloitte & Touche/Fantus Consulting, a leading site location firm. He is said to have assisted more site locations than any living person. He concludes that it is the quality of the work force, not low wages, that is decisive in the site location decision: “The single most important factor in site selection today is the quality of the available work force. Companies locate and expand in communities that can demonstrate that the indigenous work force has the necessary skills required by the company or that have the training facilities to develop those skills for the company.” (Ady, 1997, p. 81).
– A report from the Higgins Labor Studies Program, University of Notre Dame, March 2011

The truth is that many of the workers didn’t have the required skills. That required Electrolux to hire extra workers, which drove up labor costs.

Tina Smith’s empathy is situational. She hasn’t lifted a finger to help create mining jobs at Twin Metals or PolyMet but she’s willing to secretly meet with employees in St. Cloud. What a farce.

Monday night, Councilman George Hontos made a motion to spend time during the City Council’s study session talking about the economic impact refugee resettlement has had and will have on St. Cloud. Hontos, Jeff Johnson and Dave Masters voted in favor of the motion. Jeff Goerger, Steve Laraway, City Council President Carol Lewis and John Libert voted against Hontos’ motion.

After the session, Lewis said “That’s a federal issue, it may have some state implications, but we really have nothing we can say.” Tuesday night, a loyal reader of LFR sent an email to the entire city council, including Ms. Lewis. This reader’s email said (in part) “Local governments definitely have a role in the process. There is a process that seems to have been overlooked which was put in place to give local people rights/ a say, and it appears that our local governing body may be ignoring the process.”

Ms. Lewis replied (emphasis added) “As I have told others who have sent me the same law, you are once again reading the law backwards. It is the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT that needs to establish a process for us to comment. You need to talk to Tom Emmer about this, not the City of Saint Cloud.”

That’s what I’d call the Carol Lewis pass-the-buck-shuffle. First, Lewis insists that the reader can’t possibly know what the law means. Next, Lewis insists that the federal government has the ability to restrict comments on the program, essentially limiting public commentary. That’s backwards thinking. Since when do citizens have to ask the federal government’s permission to give their opinion on federal programs that hit local taxpayers’ wallets?

Finally, Ms. Lewis implied that these uppity peasants shouldn’t pester her but should bother our congressman instead. The statute clearly defines roles for the federal, state and local governments:

(2)(A) The Director and the Federal agency administering subsection (b)(1), shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.
(B) The Director shall develop and implement, in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and State and local governments, policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.
(C) Such policies and strategies, to the extent practicable and except under such unusual circumstances as the Director may recognize, shall-
(i) insure that a refugee is not initially placed or resettled in an area highly impacted (as determined under regulations prescribed by the Director after consultation with such agencies and governments) by the presence of refugees or comparable populations unless the refugee has a spouse, parent, sibling, son, or daughter residing in that area,
(ii) provide for a mechanism whereby representatives of local affiliates of voluntary agencies regularly (not less often than quarterly) meet with representatives of State and local governments to plan and coordinate in advance of their arrival the appropriate placement of refugees among the various States and localities;

Notice that the first sentence highlighted here says that “the Federal agency administering subsection (b)(1), shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.” According to Dictionary.com, the definition of consult is “to seek advice or information from; ask guidance from.”

Notice that in (C)(ii), it says that the Director “shall provide for a mechanism whereby representatives of local affiliates” of NPOs “meet with representatives of state and local governments to plan and coordinate in advance of [the refugees’] arrival the appropriate placement of refugees among the various States and localities;” That sounds like local governments have a pretty substantial role to play in this process.

Finally, let’s highlight that Ms. Lewis says people should contact Congressman Emmer on these issues whereas the statute says that the federal government should work with local governments in a collaborative effort.

It’s clear that the city council hasn’t lived up to its responsibilities. Let’s hope voters remember that the next time the 4 no votes are up for re-election.

Tom Emmer’s statement on President Trump’s Cuban policy is as disappointing as it is misguided. In the opening paragraph of Rep. Emmer’s statement, he said “I am extremely disappointed with President Trump’s announcement he is going to ‘roll back’ the progress made in improving our relationship with Cuba. Through today’s actions, his Administration claims that he is honoring a campaign promise and fighting for the Cuban people. Yet, by returning to the failed policy of the past 55 years, the Administration moves no closer to helping improve the human rights situation in Cuba and stands to violate the President’s number one campaign promise and constitutional responsibility- to keep the American people and our homeland safe.”

It’s disappointing to read Rep. Emmer’s statement. As long as one of the Castro brothers is the head of their repressive regime, human rights will be terrible. Period. While it’s likely true that the Obama Cuban policy helped the U.S. (and Minnesota) economically, I question whether it was a significant improvement. The underpinning of true human rights improvements is religious freedom. To that end, this report includes some troubling information:

On August 9, a few days before US Secretary of State John Kerry was to attend a ceremony to mark the opening of the US embassy in Havana, 90 people—including an estimated 50 Ladies in White—were arrested and detained after Sunday mass in the Havana neighborhood of Miramar during a peaceful march against political repression.

During the visit of Pope Francis in September, police detained some 100 to 150 dissidents to prevent them from seeing him. Miriam Leiva, a freelance journalist and blogger and a founder of the Ladies in White, was invited by the Papal Nuncio in Havana to greet the Pope twice, on September 19 and 20, but was detained for several hours each time, preventing her attendance.

Raul Castro’s oppression feels like Fidel Castro’s oppression. For all of Rep. Emmer’s talk about human rights, nothing has changed.

Here’s Emmer’s entire statement:

I am extremely disappointed with President Trump’s announcement he is going to ‘roll back’ the progress made in improving our relationship with Cuba. Through today’s actions, his Administration claims that he is honoring a campaign promise and fighting for the Cuban people. Yet, by returning to the failed policy of the past 55 years, the Administration moves no closer to helping improve the human rights situation in Cuba and stands to violate the President’s number one campaign promise and constitutional responsibility- to keep the American people and our homeland safe.

With today’s directive, the Administration is limiting our opportunities to improve the human rights and religious liberties of the Cuban people, not expanding them. This policy decision will hurt the United States economically, making it harder for our nation’s farmers to access new markets and cutting the knees out from under our travel and manufacturing industries. Perhaps most importantly, today’s announcement creates a very real security risk for the American people and our homeland by inviting foreign nations into our backyard to fill a void that today’s announcement is creating.

Today is not the end of this discussion; it is yet another chapter in a long and complex history between the United States and Cuba. My colleagues and I will continue to advocate for human rights and religious freedoms, a more secure hemisphere, and new economic opportunities for American farmers and businesses by improving our relationship with Cuba, not retreating.

The voices of our policy makers must represent the voices of the overwhelming majority of Americans who favor improving our relationship with Cuba. I hope as we go forward, the President will remember he was elected to challenge the status quo – not to be part of it.

We will be on the right side of history and lift this failed embargo.

I wouldn’t bet on congress lifting President Trump’s sanctions. That requires a two-thirds majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The odds of that happening are less than slim.

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In 2010, I supported Tom Emmer’s campaign against Mark Dayton for governor. Had Emmer won that election, I’m convinced that Minnesota would be far better off than it is today. Back then, Tom Emmer was a staunch conservative. Unfortunately, Tom Emmer isn’t the full-time conservative today that he was then.

That’s why he just received the lowest GOP primary vote percentage in a generation. That’s why he “won the primary … with 68.7 percent of the vote.”

Eric Ostermeier, who founded the blog Smart Politics, wrote that “Emmer’s win was the fifth-lowest out of 49 contested primaries since 1964. The only members of Minnesota’s U.S. House delegation to receive less support were DFLers Jim Oberstar in 1980 and 1984, Martin Sabo in 1992 and Gerry Sikorski in 1992.”

A quick look at Emmer’s issues page on national security shows that he isn’t listening to his constituents. Emmer started wrong by teaming with Keith Ellison to form the Somalia Caucus. It went downhill fast after that.

During a July 1, 2015 townhall meeting, Emmer laid the foundation for this primary fight by blowing off constituents who wanted a moratorium on Syrian refugees being resettled in St. Cloud, saying that he’d checked with the State Department and that there weren’t any refugees coming to St. Cloud. Clearly, Emmer was either badly misinformed or dishonest.

The reason why AJ Kern got 26.5% of the vote in this primary is because she fought for US national security. Emmer hasn’t. Here’s hoping that Rep. Emmer’s last day in Congress is January 3, 2019. Central Minnesota doesn’t need a squish who collaborates with Keith Ellison representing the Sixth District.

According to this article, freshman Rep. Tom Emmer will attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress:

“With the Iranian nuclear deal approaching, U.S. allied Yemen falling to terrorists, the horrific violence by ISIL threatening regional security and Israeli and US interests, it’s absolutely necessary for Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress on the dire situation in the Middle East. It is imperative for Members of Congress to have open ears and an open mind for us to properly address these threats and their global impact. We must be able to listen to a world leader address the grave circumstances facing an ally in such trying times, regardless of political differences.”

A quick visit to newly re-elected US Sen. Al Franken’s website tells a totally detached view of the world. For instance, here’s Sen. Franken’s view of Iraq:

Iraq

Senator Franken supports President Obama’s plan to bring our role in the Iraq war to a responsible end. He supports the President’s timetable, which led to the withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq in August of last year.

Senator Franken believes that when President George W. Bush started the war in Iraq, he lost focus on Afghanistan, the real base that Al Qaeda terrorists used to attack us. Because of this, the United States was drawn into a long and costly war, based on misinformation, that didn’t serve our nation’s interests.

Our courageous military finally started turning things around in 2007 with a new aggressive counterinsurgency strategy. In 2008, President Bush joined then-Senator Obama’s proposal for setting a timetable for withdrawing our forces, which improved our political leverage with the Iraqi government.

With the end of the U.S. combat mission on August 31, 2010 Senator Franken believes that America’s main job now to make sure that those who return get what they need, and that it’s now the job of the Iraqi people to build a functioning society for themselves.

As for whether Sen. Franken will attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, that’s anyone’s guess:

Several other members of Minnesota’s delegation were noncommittal. A spokeswoman for DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Netanyahu’s speech is on the schedule but it hasn’t been confirmed whether he’ll attend the event. A spokesman for Sen. Al Franken said he didn’t have an answer on whether Franken is going.

It’s virtually irrelevant whether Sen. Franken attends the speech. It isn’t like he’ll have original thoughts on the subject. If the Democrats’ leadership wants Sen. Franken offering his opinion, they’ll tell him what it is.

It isn’t like he’s paid attention to national security issues thus far. It’s been such a low priority for Sen. Franken that he hasn’t updated his Iraq webpage since 2010. ISIL has taken over Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi and about one-third of Iraq. AQAP (al-Qa’ida of the Arabian Peninsula) has taken over the US embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. ISIL controls half of Syria. In addition to that, ISIL has expanded into Egypt and Libya.

These are major existential threats to Israel, our most trusted ally in the region. Sen. Franken’s response to these proliferating crises has been nonexistent.

Karen Cyson’s monthly columns are consistently intentionally misleading. This month’s column definitely fits that description. Here’s proof:

Previous Rep. Michele Bachmann had a 75 percent rating of spewing falsehoods (mostly false, false, or pants-on-fire), according to [Politifact], and missed 10.3 percent of her voting opportunities. The median absence rate in the House of Representatives is 2.5 percent. To represent a group, one of the most basic things a representative can do is show up.

I’m not here to defend Michele Bachmann’s statements, though I’ll definitely agree with her statements that the Muslim Brotherhood has tried infiltrating the State Department. There’s tons of proof of that, including the statement of a former terrorist who is now a Christian.

What I’m here to defend is Ms. Cyson’s statement that Michele missed “10.3% of her voting opportunities,” that’s true but misleading. That statistic is true because she ran for president in 2012. It’s inevitable that people running for president miss votes. Ms. Cyson, forever the partisan, intentionally omitted that important fact.

This information is technically accurate and intentionally misleading:

Also of note: The sole piece of legislation introduced by Bachmann that passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by the president was a bill to rename the Cold Spring Post Office.

While Rep. Bachmann’s legislation to replace the Stillwater Bridge wasn’t signed into law, there’s no question that she was the driving force behind getting that bridge built. That project had been stalled for a decade. It was indisputable that the bridge needed to be replaced.

Jim Oberstar didn’t get the thing built. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken couldn’t be bothered with pushing the project. Gov. Dayton didn’t put a priority on the project, either. It wasn’t until Michele started pushing the bridge project that Sen. Klobuchar got interested.

This paragraph is stunning:

I am hopeful Emmer takes it upon himself to introduce and support legislation that backs those Minnesota values we support: quality education, safe infrastructure, environmental stewardship, affordable health care, equality under the law for all citizens.

TRANSLATION: I hope Emmer becomes a good liberal.

First, the federal government’s involvement in education has been disastrous. They provide a tiny percentage of per-pupil funding but impose the majority of regulations. Next, it’s virtually guaranteed that Rep. Emmer will fight hard for transportation funding. That’s because expanding highway capacity is one of the top priorities for the district. Third, it isn’t likely that Rep. Emmer will fight hard for the excessive federal environmental regulations that President Obama is famous for. Thank God for that. Finally, based on the campaigns that I’ve watched, social issues aren’t a high priority. It isn’t that Rep. Emmer doesn’t have opinions. It’s that increasing economic opportunity within the district is Rep. Emmer’s highest priority.

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Jim Knoblach didn’t waste time correcting the St. Cloud Times’ misstatements about him. Here’s what Jim said:

I was puzzled by one line in the recent St. Cloud Times endorsement editorial. It said I sometimes provided “minimal support for measures that directly benefited his district.”

During my time in the Legislature, I successfully authored more than $100 million in bonding projects for the St. Cloud area. This is far more than any representative in local history. St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical & Community College each received tens of millions of dollars from my efforts. Other projects like Quarry Park, the Beaver Islands Trail and various transportation projects also benefited.

Unlike past years, the Times Editorial Board never gave me the courtesy of an interview before announcing its endorsement. I was thus unable to respond to whatever concerns it had on this subject. Many other local candidates were granted interviews.

I hope in the future the Times gives the courtesy of an interview to all local candidates for endorsements.

Jim Knoblach is a House 14B candidate from St. Cloud.

Jim Knoblach is running for the state legislature, though you wouldn’t know it based on the Times’ reporting. The average citizen wouldn’t have known that Jim Knoblach wasn’t even asked if he’d like to be interviewed for the Times endorsement. I wrote here that the Times decided that they were endorsing Jim’s opponent long before they conducted a single candidate interview.

This year’s Times endorsements were utterly unprofessional. The Times endorsed Joe Perske to replace Michele Bachmann in Congress. Fortunately, he’ll get beaten like a drum next Tuesday. Here’s one of the Times’ rationalizations for endorsing him:

Voters need to elect the person who can begin to restore district credibility while improving the return district residents get on the tax dollars they send to Washington.

Here’s another:

While Emmer is the likely favorite because of the district’s conservative demographics, voters need to seriously consider whether his political persona will help the district. He’s similarly conservative to Bachmann and he is known as a political bully, which makes his House strategy is “building relationships” a tough sell.

Summarizing, the Times endorsed Joe Perske because they think he’d bring home the pork the district is losing out on and because Tom Emmer is a political bully.

At this point, it’s difficult picturing the Times Editorial Board as anything more than gossip columnists. They aren’t professional. They didn’t do their due diligence. They didn’t even treat one of the major party candidates with respect. That isn’t just shameful. It’s disgusting.

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