Sunday, August 12, 2012
Dirty Campaign Tricks Continue in 59B
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.
Today voters in 59B received four mailers that all appear to be tied to the Raymond Dehn campaign. One was from MAPE, another from AFSCME, and the final two from an entity called "Minneapolis Democrats for Truth." Those two were blatant attack ads against fellow contender Ian Alexander. It appears to me that these mailings were done by the same party or at least in overt coordination with one another. There are several revealing factors that would hint at such a conclusion. For instance...
...they all have the same bulk postage permit, #8314. That would indicate that these four items were part of one bulk mailing.
Three of the four cards have the exact same font and the exact same layout. At the risk of stating the blatantly obvious, that means that one of the Minneapolis Democrats for Truth attack postcards has the same format as the MAPE and AFSCME mailers.
One of the attack ads tenuously connected Ian Alexander to Sarah Palin on the grounds that Ian was once a Republican. That card went on to falsely allege that Alexander failed to account for $13,000 in campaign expenditures and information. Minneapolis Democrats for Truth knew this was a false statement prior to the mailing because their treasurer, Chris Stinson, contacted Ian Alexander's camp to inquire about the missing information. Stinson was informed that this was the result of a software glitch at the Campaign Finance Board that had affected multiple campaigns.
As an aside, the postcard calls the missing $13,000 information "GOP accounting gimmicks," when even if Alexander were at fault, this would not be a GOP gimmick, it would be a violation of Minnesota campaign finance rules. The insinuation is that somehow it's worse to be a Republican than a lawbreaker.
Which, ironically enough, is exactly what Minneapolis Republicans for Truth appears to be. Subdivision 5 of Minnesota's campaign finance statutes mandates that any contribution from one source totaling $1,000 or more that is given from after the last day covered in the last report must be reported within 24 hours. A mailing of this quality (physical quality, not contextual quality - the cardstock is quite nice) and quantity almost certainly cost more than $1,000. Minneapolis Democrats for Truth filed for registration on 8/7/12 and sent out the mailing shortly thereafter. At the time of this writing, they have yet to file any such disclosure.
One commenter on the Minneapolis Issues Forum goes so far as to describe these attacks as "libelous."
Now you could argue that it's fair to ask about Alexander's Republican past, which is fairly recent. But even then, I would expect something more substantial than a picture of Sarah Palin on a postcard that contains information the sender knew was false beforehand. Ian Alexander's candidacy should be reviewed on its merits, and if there are positions or actions that indicate his DFL conversion is anything less than genuine, point them out.
It's something else entirely to play dirty games like what Minneapolis Democrats for Truth is playing. They seem to have little regard for the truth, the rules, or the issues affecting 59B. If they're caught violating campaign laws, what will be the consequence? And how do we as a community respond? From my perspective, there is only one appropriate response. It may not be fair to one person in particular, but it is the only one with real consequences.
Do not vote for Raymond Dehn.
Let's assume for a moment that Dehn's campaign isn't coordinating with MAPE, AFSCME, or Minneapolis Democrats for Truth. Then the boycott of his 2012 campaign would be tremendously unfair to him. The action is still warranted, and even necessary for the integrity of our elections. Minneapolis Democrats for Truth doesn't care if they get slapped with a measly fine. They don't care about campaign finance rules, and they certainly don't care about a clean campaign. If they get caught but their guy wins, so what? They'll pay the slap on the wrist fine. They get to say that the ends justify the means. And the only people that will remember Vicki Moore as the chair and Chris Stinson as the treasurer are the insiders among the next batch of dirty campaigners, who want to run the same tricks as before.
No, the only thing this group cares about is that Dehn wins the primary. So the response should be directly tied to the electability of their candidate. Then, the next time a campaign (maybe a future Dehn campaign for that matter) is faced with the choice of whether to go dirty and break the rules, they will remember how in 59B, those tactics backfired. If we want fair and clean campaigns moving forward, vote for Terra Cole or Ian Alexander.