Bill Glahn has been doing the work the Twin Cities media
hasn’t won’t in covering the big, unseen unreported-on force in Minnesota politics: Take Action Minnesota.
Even among people who know that TAM exists, I think few know exactly what they’re into, and how the organization works:
Charity Status—whether legal or not, I object to TakeAction’s abuse of its tax-exempt non-profit charity status. Unlike the traditional political party—whose role the group is increasingly displacing —TakeAction can accept tax-deductible contributions from anonymous donors. Despite my best efforts at discovery, we really do not know who contributes the millions of dollars that fund TakeAction’s operations.
Quasi-Party Status—although TakeAction operates much like a political party—recruiting and financing candidates, conducting campaigns, and getting out the vote—it does not have to abide by the same laws on transparency and accountability. It acts as a closed political machine—answering to its (unknown) donors, but not to voters and taxpayers in the same way that the Democrats and Republicans must answer.
They also sit among a warren of offices for similar “progressive” “non-profits” – “ProtectMN”, “Wellstone Action” and others – in the Griggs Building, in the St. Paul Midway. This isn’t just a happy accident, or entirely the product of the Griggs’ very low rent. The network shares much more than just an address; phone banks, lists, staff, know-how.
You should read Glahn’s entire series on the subject:
My latest “Who Is TakeAction?” Series:· Part 1—Political philosophy· Part 2—TakeAction takes over city politics· Part 3—All the cool kids went to this year’s Progressive Prom
My original TakeAction Minnesota Series:
- Part 1–Intro and the 2010 election for Minnesota Governor
- Part 2–Follow the Money, as it spins around inside the TakeAction network
- Part 3–Tracking down the money to its sources
- Part 3A—More donor names and dollar amounts
- Part 4–The lobby machine
- Part 5–The 2012 referendum on Voter ID
- Part 6–Updating Part 5 with final 2012 money figures
- Part 7–TakeAction Goes to Washington
The entire series is excellent.
Although Glahn also observes:
[S]imply from a journalistic viewpoint, the rise of TakeAction as a political force is a major story—one that has received almost no coverage from Minnesota’s legacy media. In contrast, oceans of ink have been spilled over the Tea Party and its relationship to the Republican Party. There is a man-bites-dog story waiting for an enterprising reporter to pick it up.
This is not an accident. It’s a case of Berg’s Seventh Law in action.
And most of the Twin Cities media shares TAM’s mission, whether they admit it or not (and whether their friendly coverage/non-coverage is being purchased by some of the same donors or not).