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.


  1. Vicki Moore is a lifelong Harrison resident and active on Raymond Dehn's campaign. I think she works/worked for Hennepin County and may be an AFSME or MAPE employee.

  2. This shows that Raymond Dehn is not the right candidate! He obviously brings divisiveness and negativity to our community. We need somebody who truly cares about families who are hurting right now and who is a positive leader. I like Ian but I strongly support Terra Cole.

  3. I just spoke with Chris Stinson, and was asked to remove my speculation regarding the cost of the mailings and the connections to Dehn's campaign. I declined to do so, but did agree to publish the following statement after that conversation:

    Mr. Stinson stated that the cost of the mailing was under the $1,000 threshhold and that the mailing was done without the coordination of Raymond Dehn or Dehn's campaign.

  4. They are hiding their donors. They are doing the very thing they falsely accused Ian Alexander of doing. Hypocrisy.

  5. It was however done with UNION money. We can demand to see the reciepts for the mailing and printing as well as the donations. As an AFSME member, I am disgusted that my union dues are going to this. I would let the secretary of state handle this. Each mailing was about $1400/a peice and there were two lit pieces - so you do the math.

  6. The two pro-Dehn mailers were paid for by union members. The two anti-Alexander mailers were funded by mystery donors they refuse to reveal. Slime balls. They were all obviously designed and produced by the same people. LIARS.

  7. Be an informed voterAugust 12, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Actually you are kinda wrong. Last election cycle I got a bunch of political ads in the mail all with the same permit number; some from candidates, some from AFSCME, some from political parties.
    Like you, I "thought" that they were all part of a coordinated campaign.
    What I found out by calling the USPS is that the permit belonged to a printing and bulk mailing company in north Minneapolis, and that the individual campaigns just used the same bulk mailing company. Bulk mail can take up to two weeks to deliver, and is processed by the USPS Bulk Mail Center, after being delivered to them by the bulk mailing company.
    The interesting thing in this case was that one of the mailings, that had the same permit#, was from an independent candidate. When I called that campaign and asked, they said that everyone uses that company because they are experienced in campaign literature printing, already have the targeted mailing lists and they are cheap.
    To assume that all these organizations and candidates have ganged up on Ian Alexander is, as you suggest, just an assumption. I suggest that the mailings having the same permit number is just a coincidence that they use the same printing & bulk mailing company. You can call the USPS and they will tell you who owns the bulk mail permit as its public information.
    Then you can write an article that is factual. Making assumptions and false accusations, is just as bad as negative campaigning.

    1. Thank you. It's dangerous to make assumptions when you do not have all the facts.

  8. The bulk postage permit, #8314 is tied to the printer - the more telling thing that indicates it is the same source is the same template used for each mailing and the sophistication of the graphics and layout.

  9. Dehn released the following statements, which I can only find for now on his Facebook page:

    Yesterday some literature pieces were mailed by an independent group "Minneapolis Democrats for Truth." to voters in District 59B. Let me clear neither me nor my campaign had anything to do with this literature pieces. I find these attacks
    on a fellow candidate distasteful and harmful to a campaign that has been working hard. I find the subsequent attacks and accusations on me and my campaign hurtful; as I am sure that Ian has found the attacks very hurtful. Ian has been a great campaigner and has made me a better candidate and no matter what the results are of the upcoming election I hope that I have the opportunity to work with Ian in the future.

  10. And a second comment in the form of a press release.

    August 12, 2012

    District 59B State House Candidate Raymond Dehn responds to attack mail pieces of fellow candidate Ian Alexander

    Minneapolis, Minn.--On Saturday, a number of North Minneapolis residents received negative literature pieces mailed by an independent group "Minneapolis Democrats for Truth" to voters in District 59B. These pieces attacked fellow candidate with whom I disagree with on important issues, but who has worked hard in this race and who is an upstanding citizen and resident of North Minneapolis. In short, I find these attacks on a fellow candidate distasteful and harmful to the solidarity of our diverse community.

    From the beginning of this race, my campaign has stayed positive, and I am disappointed in these attacks so close to the election. My campaign is focused on fighting for a better future, and has avoided these types of personal attacks. With more than 20 years of involvement in the North Minneapolis community and the Democratic Party, I truly value voter engagement and building participation in our democratic system. Negative campaigning undermines those values.

    As someone who has done things in the past that have shaped me into the person I am today, I understand that it is possible for people to make significant changes in their lives. We should encourage and support people when they make positive changes and I believe that candidate Ian Alexander's decision to switch from an active Republican to an active Democrat is a positive change. Additionally, I believe that negative attacks during an election make it harder for individuals to work together on issues after the election that are important for all Minnesotans.

    My campaign remains focused on current issues and future challenges, not dredging up old history. Like Keith Ellison, I too believe that Everybody Counts and Everybody Matters. As a result, I welcome all people who want to be a part of the DFL, who want to strengthen and unite our community, and who are ready to work to move us forward. All the candidates fit that description, and I hope we can all continue to work together regardless of who wins this election.

  11. So are you going to say you were wrong? Maybe be a stand-up guy and apologize for your assumptions and accusations that defamed Mr. Dehn? Or are you going to leave things as is and be just as guilty as "Minneapolis Democrats for Truth" for publishing dirty campaign comments?

    1. Wrong about what, specifically? I published Mr. Stinson's statement, but it's one I frankly do not believe. I published Dehn's repudiation of the smear attempt, and I was glad to see that. But in a small race this localized, I find it hard (not impossible, but definitely hard) to believe that there is no coordination of any kind between MD4T and at least someone in Dehn's campaign.

      The original post is composed of three parts: facts, my personal interpretation of what those facts tell us, and what should be done about that. I don't believe so far that anything I stated as fact has been proven wrong. I'm entitled to my own interpretations and assumptions, and until I'm persuaded to change those I wouldn't change the third part either.

      I suppose receipts from MD4T and the unions could lead me to admit I jumped to conclusions, but we don't have those yet.

  12. Ian Alexander Negative Attacks: Treasure Response

    Hello, my name is Blake Norby, Treasurer for Ian Alexander.

    I first want to say that I have met many volunteers from the various candidate campaigns, and I have enjoyed a very postiive experience. The attack pieces that have gone out against Ian Alexander do not represent the values I have experienced with the majority of common-sense voters and supporters within the DFL. Instead, these ads represent an emotional, tea-party like response to a candidate that is out-performing the other candidates in both endorsements and donations.

    For those that have been easily swayed by these ads, I can only assume one of two things:
    1. have not been involved in the election process this year. Ian Alexander has met with unions, businesses, the media, individual donors, and various groups/organizations as well as participated in public debates. He has hit the streets hard, and is willing to discuss any issues that come up. If those involved in the "Democrats for Truth" truely had the questions their ad asks, they do not seem very engaged within the DFL community.

    2. are using an old GOP gimmick of feigning outrage to creating fear. Sadly, this lack of character does work within politics.

    If anyone has questions about Ian's history, just call Ian up and have some coffee with him. Do YOUR work as a voter. Do not fall for GOP gimmicks of negative advertising.

    Finally, I have some questions for Vicki Moore and Chris Stinson of the newly formed "Minneapolis Democrats for Truth":
    1. Why was the "Minneapolis Democrats for Truth" formed, and why on August 7, 2012?
    2. I have only heard that the public cannot see your financial reports because the costs are under $1,000. As the treasurer, and in my opinion, I (as well as others) find this cost difficult to believe.

    Again...I appreciate the POSITIVE engagement I've had throughout this process, and I look forward to everyone voting in tomorrow's primary.

    Thank you.

    Blake Norby
    Treasurer for Friends of Alexander

  13. Not impressed with Ray Dehn's statement at all. I know for a fact that volunteers from the Dehn campaign have been pushing the "Ian's a GOP plant!" meme for months. (you get caught at this stuff when you call people that support the other side)

    Shameful that MAPE & ASFCME would be participating in this.

    Ian's a great candidate and a decent and honorable man. There's a reason he got the support of the Carpenters, the 49ers, the Mpls Building Trades, the Teamsters, and the Star Tribune. He's built a lot of support from Democrats whose party loyalty can't be questioned. Too bad Ray Dehn is trying to close the doors of the DFL to people who support our values just because they used to be in the other party. I'd rather build than block.

  14. Interesting how an article in the MN Progressive Project has links to this blog. Makes ya wonder how NxNS is connected to Eric Pusey and to Minneapolis Council Member Elizabeth Glidden??

    1. This blog is "connected" to the MN Progressive Project only in that the authors/editors of that site choose to link to this one.

  15. Interesting too in that the post pin question on MN Progressive Project and this one include some of the same "words." I wonder if some coordination took place? And, if so, did that coordination cost over $1,000?

  16. why do you assume the Ray Dehn campaign is behind this? Why not Terra Cole? Why do you assume it's a coordinated effort at all, which would be illegal. Who would risk doing something so stupid. This article you wrote is highly irresponsible.

  17. On another topic, I received a robocall from the Ian Alexander campaign, which last I checked is illegal in the state of Minnesota. But I'll give Ian Alexander the individual the benefit of the doubt that it wasn't actually his campaign that coordinated this effort but an independent resident who decide to break the law.

  18. Word is there was "push polling" trying to spread a lie about why Ian Alexander was divorced. This is not a mere rumor about the push polling, the person who discussed this in on a North Minneapolis Facebook forum is highly credible. Push polling represents more dirty tricks, and it's very clear which side was engaged in the dirt.

    Raymond Dehn's supporters.

    As discussed on my own blog, I am calling for a public examination of the sign-in sheets (voter rosters, call them what you will) for voters in 59B to see if the dirty tricks extended to suspicious votes cast.

  19. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. Of course the guy with more votes will disavow things; what would you expect. If not, he's too dumb to be running. It is history, and the Republican tally proves that in this district, getting the most DFL primary votes is the functional equivalent of winning in November. Get over it. Either Cole demands a recount and the sole question is ballot intent, whether clear or faulted, and in that small a turnout betting on ballot errors in a sufficient number where it seems only highly motivated [hence likely careful] voters participated it is a low probability bet that any recount would matter.

    Live with it. Bush stole Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004, and got away with it. This is small potato stuff. Politics will be clean? If so, pigs will fly.

  20. Johnny Northside (John Hoff) is just pissed because his buddy Ian Alexander didn't win. So now he's gonna have a tantrum, throw his toys around, and say the other side cheated.
    Hoff should know about election politics as he's one of the few people in American history to be voted out of office in a recall election. And he did the same thing back then; he claimed the other side used dirty politics, when in actuality the better qualified candidate won the election.

    Ian Alexander's track record just doesn't match up to the expectations in 59B, and the votes reflect that with his 3rd place loss.

  21. Since 2009 ALL robocalls are illegal. If the Alexander campaign was using them you can report the number to the FCC. They have an online form for reporting at the FCC do-not-call web site.
    Even though political calls can be exempted from the do-not-call list, robocalls are always illegal.


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