DrawTheLine MN: Giving “Potemkin” A Bad Name

According to Russian legend, Catherine the Great’s consort, minister and general, Grigory Potemkin, built fake villages, just shells and faςades and a few serfs going through happy-serf-like motions (see also SEIU – Ed.) along the banks of the Dniepr river – which he’d just seized from the Ottomans in a costly war he’d advocated and led, to impress Catherine with the wisdom of his campaign.

“Potemkin village” – or “Potemkin” – has thus become a synonym for “a hollow, insubstantial faςade, intended to deceive”.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at “Draw The Line Minnesota’s “Citizens’ Redistricting Commission” – a body that should make Grigoriy Potemkin’s descendants sue for trademark infringement.

“Draw The Line MN” is an astroturf “activist” group, a collaboration between Common Cause Minnesota, the League of Women Voters Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota – one of the groups behind “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, which ran the astroturf smear campaign against Tom Emmer last year.  All of them portray themselves as “non-partisan”; all are relentlessly “progressive” astroturf activist groups, all of them fronts for Big Progressive money (and incredibly disingenuous about it).

…who’ve teamed to to masquerade under the “non-partisan” guise of “Draw The Line” (DTL) to try to influence the redistricting process in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

DTL’s latest scam?  The “Citizens’ Commission on Redistricting”.

The term is picked carefully; it sounds official, doesn’t it?  Like it’s something sanctioned by the state?

It’s not – no moreso that if I’d sent them out to campaign.

And who are these people?

DTL’s website provides an explanation…

The Commission Members serving on the Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission are volunteers, who are committing a significant amount of time and effort to this process. To that end, Draw the Line Minnesota has devised a process we feel is both transparent and limits the necessity of significant days of travel for Commission members.


The Commission will rely heavily on technology, so that much of its work can be done on the internet and by conference call. To that end, public meetings will be livestreamed (where possible) and taped and posted on our website. Any communications received by the Commission or Draw the Line Minnesota, related to map-drawing or redistricting principles, will also be uploaded to our website.


…and a list.  Let’s look into that list a bit.  I’ll add some emphasis here and there:

Lori Berg of Maplewood is a program officer for Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation and has worked in the field of philanthropy for twenty-seven years. She was born and raised in rural southwestern Minnesota and through her work is familiar with communities around the state.

Berg – no known relation – has no record of political contributions on the MN CFB, Opensecrets, Newsmeat, or the Federal Elections Commission.

Bruce Corrie of St. Paul is the dean of the College of Business and Organizational Leadership at Concordia University-St. Paul. Dr. Corrie has a Ph.D. in Economics and is an expert on the ethnic markets and has been featured in a wide range of international, national and local media. His website and blog can be found at www.ethnictrends.info.

No political contributions found: Corrie’s work seems to focus on multi-culti stuff.

 Sally Fineday of Pennington is a member with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Executive Director of Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota. With Native Vote, Sally has helped promote nonpartisan civic engagement and voter participation.

Again – no contributions found; she’s been involved in community politics in Beltrami County.

Kathi Hemken of New Hope currently serves as the community’s Mayor. Previously, she worked as a planner at Honeywell for twenty-years and served on the city’s planning commission. We’re pleased to have Kathy’s local government experience on the Commission.

No contributions listed – and very little on isplay about her tenure as mayor of New Hope, a struggling blue-collar burb west of North Minneapolis.

Kent Kaiser of St. Paul is a professor of communication at Northwestern College. Previously, he served as the communications and voter outreach director in the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. While with the Secretary of State’s office, he serviced as liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau and on the boards of Kids Voting Minnesota and Kids Voting St. Paul.

Yet again – not a single political contribution found.

Lorna LaGue of Waubun is the Special Projects Director for the White Earth Reservation where she serves in various roles involving community organizing, planning, and development. She works with diverse agencies throughout the State and is a member of the Rediscovery Environmental Learning Center Board and Chair of an enterprise board for the Tribe.

Couldn’t find any political contributions:

Matthew Lewis of Edina is the Communications Director of the Independence Party and a master’s candidate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Last year he served as press secretary to gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner. Previously, in Washington, DC, he worked as a reporter at The Center for Public Integrity covering topics including infrastructure and climate change legislation in conjunction with outlets such as POLITICO.

Lewis is on record giving $2000 to Tom Horner last year.

Elda Macias of Minneapolis is Marketing Director for a large Fortune 300 company, developing new marketing strategies for emerging markets. Elda was formerly active in the DFL Latino Caucus, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota, and the Scholarship Selection Committee for the Latino Economic Development Center. She is originally from El Paso, Texas.

Macias gave $250 to Obama, and $350 to Patricia Torres-Ray, in addition to her DFL involvement listed above.

Anne Mason of St. Paul is the Assistant Director of Communications at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She served as a political appointee for Tax and Budget Policy for the US Department of the Treasury, Communications Director for Congressman Mark Kennedy, and Political Director for the Erik Paulsen for Congress campaign.

The person on the list with any form of Republican affiliation of any kind, Mason seems to show not a single political donation.

Sedric McClure of Brooklyn Park is a Multicultural Counselor in Student and Academic Affairs at Macalester College and has worked in multicultural settings in higher education for fifteen years. A current public policy student as well, Sedric is an avid reader of history and civil rights.

No contributions listed.

Kenya McKnight of Minneapolis is Operations Director of the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, which provides business and economic development services in the areas of training, technical assistance, and loan packaging. She is actively engaged around social and economic justice issues within ethnic communities and serves on the boards of organizations including North Point Health and Wellness and serves as a DFL Director of Senate District 58.

A DFLer (as noted above), McKnight seems to have no record of political donations.

Carl Rosen of Spring Park is a retired social worker, who worked in long-term care nursing homes and at the Hennepin County Psychiatric Unit. He is also a retired Priest and worked at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville for thirteen years.

Hm. Not a thing.

Karen Saxe of Northfield is Chair of the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science at Macalester College and is actively affiliated with the Mathematics Association of American and the Association of Women in Mathematics. She was also recently elected to serve on the board of the League of Women Voters of Northfield and Cannon Falls.

No political contributions founded.

T. Scott Uzzle of Saint Paul is an attorney with Blaschko & Associates. He was previously an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Virginia. He has authored a detailed memorandum on voting rights in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to law school, he was the Committee Assistant to the Privileges and Elections Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates.

No political contributions found.

Candi Walz of Lindstrom is an adjunct professor of Political Science at Century College and the small business owner of Let’s Talk Kids, LLC. She was Legislative Correspondent at the state Capitol for fifteen daily newspapers in Northeastern Minnesota, and worked in Government Relations at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the Minnesota State College Association.

So there’s the “Citizens’ Commission”.

Now, I look for patterns for my day job.  What did we see above?  A group of people chock full of low-level involvement with “progressive” institutions (the DFL, various non-profits), or with institutions that are aligned with the left (the tribes, academia, especially political science), or who depend for their livelihood on institutions where a strong left-of-center pedigree is vital for survival, much less advancement (Macalester, the Humphrey Institute) – but who have, across the board, give off few of the obvious signs of high level partisanship, like lots of campaign donations, to be held against them.

Now – what are they doing?

More tomorrow..

13 thoughts on “DrawTheLine MN: Giving “Potemkin” A Bad Name

  1. Potemkin village?
    Or Trojan Horse?
    We all have our favorite metaphors to describe the same process. I guess the re-districting process always worked before…until those GOP rascals got the upper hand in the legislature. Now, after all these years, we learn that wasn’t the right way to run things. Who knew?
    I’ve served on selection committees and planning committees enough times to be suspicious of the motives of the people in charge here. Somebody sets the agenda and invites the testimony of “experts” hand-picked to deliver a certain message. Rather like a trial, there is a certain gaming strategy employed to push the members toward the desired conclusion.

  2. shells and faςades and a few serfs going through happy-serf-like motions (see also SEIU – Ed.)

    More like Rockridge.

  3. I laugh when I read things like “Minnesota Council of Nonprofits”. It’s like a group that gets together and discusses how they can’t do anything without government subsidy. Not interesting or important enough to be a charity or a part of government. Just a constantly borderline-failing business.

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  5. Kent Kaiser’s been a fixture in conservative politics since at least when I was College Republican in the 1990s. IIRC the SecState he worked for was Mary Kiffmeyer and he’s been active with the College Republicans, the Center for the American Experiment and MN Family Council. I won’t say that I’ve always seen eye to eye with him on everything but unless I’m misremembering or he’s undergone some significant shifts in his views since I’ve last seen him, we’ve probably agreed on 80 plus percent of the issues.

    That being said, there are a number of issues such as trying to replace judicial elections with retention “elections” or replacing the electoral college with the popular vote where I’ve seen people I normally agree with on most issues on the other side. That’s not a dig against Kent or other folks who may think that our current system is broken and this is a better way – just a reminder that people and their views don’t necessarily always fit into neat of boxes as some would like.

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