Saturday, July 21, 2012

Alleged Rules Violation by Local DFL Door Knocking Volunteers

Post and photo (of DFL office on West Broadway) by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

ADDENDUM:  A fairly satisfactory resolution was explained by Corey Day of the DFL party, and is summarized in the comments section below.

Two days ago, a North Talk post described an incident that, if true, would appear to violate DFL party rules.  In district 59B, the local convention adjourned without an endorsement.  Under DFL rules, specifically Article III, Section 4, Subsection H of the DFL Constitution and Bylaws, we read the following:
The Minnesota DFL Party at all levels shall not provide support and funds to candidates unless they are duly endorsed, or are seeking an office without party designation and are not running against a duly endorsed candidate.
The alleged incident in question was that a volunteer door knocker was going through a north Minneapolis neighborhood in 59B and talking to people specifically about DFL-endorsed candidates.   After going through a list of several who had been duly endorsed, the volunteer then began talking about Raymond Dehn.  By association, this volunteer was putting Dehn on the same level as DFL-endorsed candidates prior to the August 14th primary.  There are several ways this could have happened, most of which would appear to be a direct violation of the above rule...

  1. Organizers with the Dehn campaign could have been doing their own outreach, and slipped his name in with other endorsed candidates while conveniently failing to mention that Dehn himself is not endorsed by the party.
  2. Volunteers or staff through the local DFL office could have acted in the way this person alleged, but without the knowledge or coordination of the Dehn campaign, or
  3. Volunteers or staff through the local DFL office could have acted in the way alleged with the knowledge or coordination of the Dehn campaign.
Either of the latter scenarios, even through volunteer work, would seemingly rise to the level of providing party "support," which is prohibited without party endorsement.

The thread on North Talk also alleged that Dehn signs were in the window of the office on Broadway.  However, this was on Thursday and when I went by the place on Saturday no such signs were visible.  This office is a DFL-coordinated office space, so once again, if signs of an un-endorsed candidate were on display, this would seem to constitute improperly providing party support.  I have filed a complaint with the DFL regarding these possible improprieties.

As a footnote, just to make it perfectly clear where I stand, I will explain my support, as it were, for 59B.  I now live in 59A, but caucused in 59B because that was where I was living at the time of the convention.  I went into the convention unsure if I would support Raymond Dehn, Terra Cole, Ian Alexander, or Nancy Pomplun (who has since dropped out).  On the first ballot, I voted for Ian Alexander because he impressed me the most.  On the second ballot, I voted for Terra Cole because her answers during the debate questions between the first and second vote impressed me.  On the final ballot, I voted for Raymond Dehn because I know all of the above candidates and believe we would be well-served by any of them.  But the primary purpose of such a convention is to arrive at an endorsement, and Dehn was leading in that process.

I was a true undecided delegate in 59B, and moved to 59A before I had to make up my mind in a primary or general election.  I have no stake in the campaigns of any 59B candidates, and my only objective in publicizing these allegations is to ensure that all candidates, and the party itself, adhere to DFL rules during this campaign.


  1. On the same North Talk thread, a supporter of Dehn claimed that several of Ian Alexander's campaign signs were on display in people's yards prior to an allowed date. I asked for the specific rule that violated, since I did not see it in the DFL bylaws or constitution. I said I would post about it if the rule was pointed out.

    Another person posted a link to a Secretary of State ruling that campaign signs are not to be displayed prior to June 29.

    I consider that allegation to be worthy of pointing out in fairness, but not rising to the level of either a formal complaint or even a full blog post. Here is why:

    1. Since June 29 has already passed, there is no behavior to address that, if changed, would ensure all candidates follow the rules.

    2. Proving that a sign was up prior to June 29 would be more difficult than tracking down the specific DFL volunteer related to the allegation above.

    3. (And this is a personal, subjective one) I don't believe such a rule would stand up to scrutiny if a complaint were filed and contested. If I had closed on my house prior to June 29, I would have put up campaign signs for any candidate I supported, and I can't imagine that rule would hold up if contested in court. If it did, then perennial campaigner Leslie Davis' sign for governor that was painted on the side of a building on Lowry would have been grounds for such violations as well.

  2. I just got a call back from Corey Day. Here is his response: Keith Ellison is sharing space with the DFL office on Broadway. There was a Dehn sign inappropriately placed in the DFL part of the office and that has been removed. The volunteers in question were out working on Keith's campaign. They were trying to get Ellison and other DFL-endorsed candidates elected. Keith has personally endorsed Dehn, so his volunteers were expressing that support.

    Since those were not people working or volunteering on behalf of the DFL Party, no part of the DFL Constitution or Bylaws were broken.

    Now I personally think that if Ellison's volunteers were saying things the way that has been recounted here, then that is sneaky even if it's not a rules violation. In fairness though, Keith and his campaign should be free to garner support for whichever candidate they wish, and it IS hard to differentiate between "DFL-supported" and "Keith Ellison-supported" when doing a quick, door-to-door campaign pitch.


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