August 10, 2006

Agents Provocateurs

Captain Ed notes an apparent DFL scam to foist an illegal contribution on John Kline:

According to [Kline volunteer Diana] Bratlie, Bailey was initially rebuffed when he showed up at Kline's district office in Burnsville asking to make a cash contribution. Bailey was reportedly directed to Kline's campaign office in the same building, where he met with Bratlie.

In her letter, Bratlie said Bailey "was clearly trying to hide his identity" and then "began to withdraw cash to make a campaign donation."

Bratlie says she told Bailey that Kline's campaign does not accept cash donations, and he left.

I note this story because, at first blush, it seems to be straight from a (probably) unwritten DFL playbook; use DFL operatives to send ethically-squishy-looking contributions that can then be publicized as GOP ethical violations.

In October 2002, as I noted in a five part series I wrote about Mike Hatch and the American Bankers and Insurance scandal, this would appear to be nothing new for the DFL; have a "neutral" party send a fishy donation to the GOP.

Here's how it went down in 2002, according to an interview I conducted with then-MNGOP chair Ron Eibensteiner:

In August of 2002, says Eibensteiner, someone began calling the state GOP office, wanting to make a donation to the Pawlenty campaign "This guy calls, and says he wants to give $15,000 to Pawlenty. He says "I want to make a corporate contribution "We said "No, you can't do that!" says Eibensteiner. "My staff tells me this guy keeps insisting; We gave him the address for the RNSEC. But when the check came, it was addressed to the Minnesota Republican Party." After that, Eibensteiner says, staffers sent the $10,000 check to the RNSEC office in Washington. And that's it!", Eibensteiner concluded.

The "guy," according to Eibensteiner, was Ron Jerich.

Ron Jerich, of course, is an uber-lobbyist who's worked for candidates of all stripes - but in 2002, he was most noted for working with DFLers.

And how did it go down? According to Mike Hatch's testimony recorded a Legislative Auditor's report

That morning, I went over the Ron Jerich's home. He was acting as a host for a number of people who were door knocking for ... Senator [Jim] Metzen, and Representative Pugh. And when you do these door knocks, you show up and they hand you a map and a bunch of literature, and you drive out and knock on doors...And usually beforehand, the host...or hostess will have coffee and orange juice and some donuts. And which Val Jerich [Ron Jerich's wife] did have, what I recall was quite a spread.
In other words, a fairly typical campaign-season literature drop...And I was drinking coffee, talking to Ron Jerich, and noticed...We were in his office talking. And there was a bust of Ronald Regan (sic) on his desk. And I said, gee, that's an interesting bust. Why have you got Ronald Regan (sic)? And he said he just got it from the Republican Party for a ten thousand dollar contribution. I asked him why were you making a ten thousand dollar contribution, and he said that he had been retained by American Bankers Insurance Company...I said, well, what do you mean, the company? I mean, was it an officer of the company? Was it you? How did you...? And he said no, the company made the contributions. I said, well, how did they do that? And he said...and I said, more out of curiosity, how did you make a corporate contribution?
The thank-you letter - which the Legislative Auditor determined was an automated letter sent from the MNGOP office - just happened to wind up on Ron Jerich's table; Mike Hatch just happened to pick it up, and just happened to use it three months later to strongarm Pawlenty's Commerce Commissioner into coughing up political swag for Hatch's cronies, and to stir up a tempest-in-a-teapot "scandal" that ended up backfiring on Hatch (albeit not in the media, which dropped the story the moment the focus turned to Hatch).

So let's go over the story:

  • Stranger comes in with a pile of money they want to contribute illegally
  • GOP tells them "no thanks".
  • Stranger is exposed as a DFL operative
The Minnesota GOP doesn't need crooks in its ranks; the DFL seem happy to provide them all.

Posted by Mitch at August 10, 2006 12:05 PM | TrackBack

Let's add another DFL scam to the pile of evidence. (This story comes directly from a staffer I used to know in Kennedy's campaign office.)

In 2002, a young man came to Mark Kennedy's campaign headquarters. He says he'd like to volunteer and work for the campaign. He was asked to sign up...and used an obvious fake name. The staffer also recognized him from being a parade volunteer (or intern, which could not be confirmed for:

Janet "Where are my radio station ratings" Robert. Kennedy's opponent.

For some reason, DFL candiates just can't campaign on ideas (and we know why...when they do...they lose). They have to engage in cloak-and-dagger games. Except, they always screw it up.

Posted by: Dave at August 10, 2006 01:56 PM

It's unfortunate many cannot run on accomplishments either. I remember Hatch giving some press conferences on the Northeast Minneapolis vermiculite processing plant situation, and how he was going to get to the bottom of things. I don't think he ever accomplished much beyond gathering attention and spending money, and the usual suspects seemed to work:

I have heard that this is his modus operandi, but I don't know him, so I guess he could possibly be a really swell guy. Hehe.

Posted by: Anonymous at August 11, 2006 05:06 PM
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