All You Had To Do Was Ask

Last summer, I noticed a local leftyblog run by a couple of anonymous bloggers was trying to play lawyer

They were gabbling about my friend, colleague and now Minnesota State Representative, King Banaian’s radio show on KYCR – also known as “AM1570 The Businessman”, sister station to AM1280 The Patriot.  

King was a co-host of the Northern Alliance Radio Network on AM1280 – an overtly political show on an overtly political station – from March of 2004 until September, 2009.  At that time – long before he announced any intention to run for office – he switched to the 1570, where he ran an expressly non-political show about economics. 

The anonymous bloggers in question wrote a screed claiming that the 1570 needed to either pull Banaian off the air, or give his opponent equal time, notwithstanding the fact that AM1570 can not be heard in District 15B, a demand that caused me to wonder if Banaian’s opponent might want to just tell the anonymous bloggers to shut up and quit trying to “help” her; using the “equal time” would involve driving to Eagan from Saint Cloud every Saturday morning, or at the very least taking off a couple of hours of prime campaigning time per week to talk on the air on a station that has zero listenership – zero – in Saint Cloud. 

Little did I know as I wrote my response that somebody had already filed a complaint [Warning! PDF File!] with the Campaign Finance Board!   The CFB summarizes the complaint, saying the complainer believed there had been:

(1) a prohibited corporate contribution from the radio station owner to the King Banaian for House committee in the form of free radio air time;

(2) the failure to report contributions from the radio station owner to the King Banaian for House committee

(3) violations of the limits on contributions that may be accepted by a candidate’s principal campaign committee.

As I pointed out in my original response, the complaint was absurd: the show was expressly nonpolitical, and the station isn’t heard in the district in question anyway. 

The complaint also gabbled on for quite a while about Banaian’s history – ending half a year before he announced his candidacy – on AM1280.  Follow that logic there?  Being on the air in the past is a form of campaign contribution?  Did anyone file a complaint against Al Franken?  Can any talk show host ever run for office?

It matters not – because the Campaign Finance Board reached exactly the same conclusions I did, and for exactly the same reasons.

As re the complaint’s, er, complaint that Salem “contributed” to Banaian via the “free” air time?:

For the purposes of analysis, the Board will adopt Complainant’s position and assume that Salem Communications provided services of value to King Banaian. In fact, the opposite may be true since King Banaian was a volunteer host with significant credentials and the radio station’ owners profited from commercials run during breaks in his program.

Heh. Don’t we all know it.

As re the notion that Salem was contributing to the Banaian Campaign, the CFB notes that the “contribution” would have required phenomenal ESP on the part of Salem’s execs: 

Services provided by Salem Communications would be a recognizable and reportable transaction if those services constitute an “approved expenditure” under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 10A. An “approved expenditure” is an expenditure made by a third party for the benefit of a candidate with the approval of the candidate. Minn. Stat. §10A.01, Subd. 4. An approved expenditure constitutes both an in-kind contribution to the candidate’s principal campaign committee and an in-kind expenditure by the committee.

An approved expenditure is a specific type of “expenditure”. Thus, before a transaction will be considered to be an approved expenditure, it must fall within the definition of an expenditure.

Minnesota Statutes, Section 10A.01, Subd. 9, defines “Campaign expenditure” or “expenditure” as a payment or purchase “made or incurred for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of a candidate . . .”. This statute clearly requires the existence of a specific purpose before a transaction is an expenditure for campaign finance purposes.

The program under consideration was ongoing prior to Mr. Banaian’s announcement that he would run for office. The program is aimed at discussion of economic issues. Although it discusses policy related to economics, it has not discussed Mr. Banaian’s candidacy for the House of Representatives.

In other words, the “campaign” to which the “contribution” was “made” didn’t “exist” when Salem put the expressly non-political show on the air – “air” which, need we remind you, ends at about the west end of Maple Grove:

The program’s broadcast signal does not reach the geographic area in which Mr. Banaian is running for office. While the online on-demand archive is available to anyone, there is no evidence that Salem Communications or anyone else has promoted the archive to voters in Mr. Banaian’s district.

(Or any other district.  Don’t get me wrong – Salem rocks, and I thank them profusely for having me on the air for this past almost-seven years.  But any “promotion” that any of us local hosts have gotten has been via word of mouth.  Such is the nature of weekend radio).

The fact that Mr. Banaian may have appeared as a guest on broadcasts on WWTC, a political talk radio station, does not provide support for the proposition that Salem Communications made a political contribution to the King Banaian Committee. Minnesota Statutes Section Subd. 11(c) provides that a contribution does not include “the publishing or broadcasting of news items or editorial comments by the news media”. This exception is broadly interpreted in favor of allowing public discourse related to political campaigns. The fact that a candidate interview may have an effect on the candidate’s election is not sufficient to remove the interview from the news media exception.

The Board recognizes that any positive public exposure may have some effect on an individual’s chance of being elected. However, this possible collateral effect under the facts presented is not sufficient bring the broadcasts described by Complainant within the scope of expenditures that are considered to be for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of Mr. Banaian.

Now, that’s an interesting proposition; considering “positive” interviews to be a “campaign contribution?”  Can someone file a complaint against Keri Miller or Esme Murphy?  Because if I have to listen to either of them painting Mark Dayton’s toenails on the air again, I’m going to herk.

The conclusions?:

Based on the information provided in the Complaint and the Response, and through the Board’s investigation, the Board makes the following:

Findings Concerning Probable Cause

1. There is no probable cause to believe that Salem Communications or KYCR Radio made a contribution to the King Banaian for House principal campaign committee by producing or broadcasting the King Banaian Show or other shows during which Mr. Banaian was interviewed.

Based on the above Findings, the Board issues the following:

Order

1. The Complaint of [the complainer] regarding King Banaian, KYCR Radio and Salem Communications is dismissed.

2. The Board investigation of this matter is concluded and hereby made a part of the public records of the Board pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 1OA.02, Subdivision 11.

Where have we heard that before?

Now, since the bloggers who originally wrote about this are anonymous, I obviously have no idea who they are, or if the CFB “complaint” was in any way related to the blog post I, er, addressed last August.

Still, I have a hard time thinking what the anonymous bloggers, or the complainer, thought they were going to accomplish with this complaint.  Given that the station is not heard in Stearns County, and given that the show was expressly non-political anyway, the only remaining motivation would be to stifle conservative punditry on the air.

It’s not hard to imagine that it backfired, though.  Indeed, it’s not at all difficult to believe any part of King Banaian’s margin of victory in this past election that didn’t come from people disgusted by the DFL’s clumsy, racist jape at Banaian’s consulting career might have come from St. Cloudians revolted by the bald-faced appeal to censorship from a couple of carpet-bagging (apparent) Twin Citians.

32 thoughts on “All You Had To Do Was Ask

  1. [elbow]Pardon me Mitch[/elbow], but this doesn’t take a Teh Peevee length commentary to explain to SITD readers…please allow me to break it down for y’all.

    “Advisory Opinions are advisory only; they are not binding on requesters or others similarly situated. They are binding on the Board when used as a defense asserted by the requester in a subsequent action related to the facts of the opinion. Nevertheless, the Board recognizes that advisory opinions are used to provide guidance on the topics they address. However, Complainant’s reliance on Advisory Opinion 365 to provide support for his position in this matter is misplaced.”

    Stevie Timmer is a dim-witted douche, and is wasting the Board’s time.

    “Board staff has listened to four hours of The King Banaian Show, representing some of the most recent broadcasts available on the KYCR website for on demand listening. None of the broadcasts mentioned Mr. Banaian’s candidacy or discussed political issues.”

    The Board finds that not only is Timmer a dim-witted douche, he is an uninspired liar.

    “Board staff examined the website http://www.radio-locator.com to verify the data that Mr. Banaian submitted and found the data to be consistent and the website to appear to be reliable. Salem Communications provided its own analysis of its signal confirming that it does not reach Mr. Banaian’s district.”

    The Board farts in Stevie Timmer’s general direction.

    “There is no probable cause to believe that Salem Communications or KYCR Radio made a contribution to the King Banaian for House principal campaign committee by producing or broadcasting the King Banaian Show or other shows during which Mr. Banaian was interviewed.”

    Further, the Board thinks Stevie’s momma is so ugly, she have to sneak up on sleep.

    There; I hope that helped, ’cause I’m a helper.

  2. “the only remaining motivation would be to stifle conservative punditry on the air”

    Either that, or this complainant is a not-very-well-adjusted ideologue with a personality or mood disorder and way to much time on his or her hands.

    Or, put in a different vernacular:

    Zees complainunt ees crazy een da hund und as idle as un augurless znowblower.

  3. Now, Swiftee? You’ve gone and done it again.

    Now, someone’s going to come back in 2012 and claim this thread as an in-kind contribution to…

    …er, someone.

  4. Now that the “Sucking Fool” has been slapped, face down to the pavement, he’ll need something to boost his bruised ego.

    Keep your eyes peeled for a scrawny, dim-witted douche driving up and down your ally with a digital camera poking out of a rust hole in the door mumbling “that new garage is TOO DAMN BIG!” into the mic.

  5. Clearly, using the standards introduced by the complainant, we can expect to see the 331 Club listed as an in-kind contributor to dozens of DFL politicians. After all, the 331 is a business that provides space and services for free to a politically oriented group that records video of (slobberingly) positive interviews of political candidates.

    But seriously, its a good thing those lefty bloggers are anonymous. Because if I were a senior partner in a law firm and saw one of my employees making a legal argument so devoid of reason, logic, or respect for the law, I might have to think twice about keeping them employed.

  6. swiftee Says: “[elbow]Pardon me Mitch[/elbow],……..”

    That was rich swiftee, the warmth of laughter after a snowy weekend, and cold ass beginning of the week!!

  7. I’m personally unaware of any link between the blog in question and the complainant. Being anonymous, I have no idea of the identities occupations of the bloggers involved. Nor do I personally associate the complainant with anyone I have ever met.

    It’s all greek to me.

  8. I’m personally unaware of any link between the blog in question and the complainant. Being anonymous, I have no idea of the identities of the bloggers involved. Nor do I personally associate the complainant with anyone I have ever met.

    It’s all greek to me.

  9. Closed circuit to an unnamed, dim-witted douche that will be beating his pointy little head against the walls of his double-wide while reading our mockery and mirth at his expense:

    It’s all greek to me.

    That’s code for “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaa
    hahaha(you simple minded assnozzle!)hahahahahahahahahaahah(how many more ways could they have smacked you down without sending your teeth skittering across the trailer park?hahahahahahahahaha
    hahahaha(coff! coff!)hahhahahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAaaaa(I’m going to post copies of that decision on every wall in the 331 on Thursday!)hahah
    hahahahahaha(Zshtick Zat in your Bong and Zschmoke it, grasshopper!) Hahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa!!

    …end of message.

  10. I occasionally listen to 1570AM. It’s like New Age music is to a mystic, or rap music is to a gang banger, having business radio on in the background is a way for me to enjoy my drive to work.

    Now, let me tell you……I think it is safe to say that anyone in St Cloud who would be listening to The Businessman/woman/womyn, is probably going to vote for Mr Banaian anyway. Also, the signal is rather weak even within the immediate metro.

    “You know, I was all set to vote DFL again, but while washing my car the this week, I heard the other candidate talk about the affects of fed’l gov’t borrowing on interest rates and T-bills, so decided to vote for him instead.”

  11. I have a question: why are taxpayer money being wasted on anonymous complaints? If someone makes a complaint, make yourself known so that you can be stuck with a bill, if found to be frivolously wasting taxpayer money as is in this case. I am sure them CFB folks do not come cheap.

  12. JPA – there is in fact a name on the complaint. The blog, itself, is anonymous.

    However, it would be interesting to know how much it costs to resolve these complaints.

    Swiftee:

    what seemingly innocent phrase

    “Douche”, probably.

  13. Swiftee, need any help? Timmers is visibly scared and uncomfterable around me and I enjoy it a ton, you would too.

  14. Ben, most people are visibly scared and uncomfterable (sic) around you.
    Don’t take it personally.

    Besides, Spotty is a FEARLESS BLOGGER exposing the perfidy of the Right Wing. I’ve no doubt he would gladly sacrifice thirds on dinner just for The Cause.

  15. Kerm, I know for one reason or another, if I like you, you have nothing to fear. If I don’t I’m your worst fucking nightmare 😉

  16. This blog does not condone stalking – that being one area where I’m perfectly willing to let the lefties have all the fun.

  17. The mere thought of a conservative speaking on the public airwaves drives some people batshit.

  18. Speaking of stalking, Mitch, did you ever look at the original thread on “Sucking Stool” where the asshat replied to your comment with the creepy remark about your garage? And that tool thought Hackbarth was a psycho.

  19. Ben and Swiftee-
    maybe we should just drop by Drinking Liberally some Thursday night. For a beer, of course. The pants wetting by some other guests would just be entertainment.

  20. “In fact, the opposite may be true since King Banaian was a volunteer host with significant credentials and the radio station’ owners profited from commercials run during breaks in his program.”

    Why do I have a feeling that copies of that sentence will (should!) be printed and spread strategically around a certain studio in Eagan?

  21. “The anonymous bloggers in question wrote a screed claiming that the 1570 needed to either pull Banaian off the air, or give his opponent equal time, notwithstanding the fact that AM1570 can not be heard in District 15B”

    I don’t get 1280 a.m. on the radio either, but I can listen to Mitch through the computer, and by podcast.

    I’m asking honest questions here – do other methods of broadcast count?

    Should those alternate methods of communication count – I would think so, but I haven’t looked at the regulations?

  22. Well Dog, if the Democrat “progressives” in Washington get their way, all internet communications will be subject to government control (see Net Neutrality).
    It’s called “totalitarianism”.

  23. I’m asking honest questions here – do other methods of broadcast count?

    For purposes of equal time on the radio? No. 🙂

    Webcasts are not covered by the FCC (although the Obama Administration wants to change that).

    It’s worth noting that the CFB ruled not so much on whether equal time was warranted, as whether King’s air time and web presence was an independent expenditure by Salem. They are really two very separate issues. The CFB ruled that it didn’t fit the definition of a campaign expenditure, which was really all that matters for purposes of this argument.

  24. maybe we should just drop by Drinking Liberally some Thursday night. For a beer, of course.

    Doors are open. I suggest the Surly Bender.

    If you want to come this week, we are collecting for Toys for Tots, so maybe you can bring something to donate.

    Hope to see you there.

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