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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

CD2: Mary Lawrence And Her Personal Campaign Contributions

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 05/22/15 09:26

by Dave Mindeman

I got a message recently, from a local DFL activist, upset about this discovery while searching OpenSecrets.....

http://www.mnpact.org/sblog/upload/Lawrence%20contribution.jpg

Here is a Congressional District 2 candidate who had given money to Mitt Romney during his first Presidential run. I have to admit that it puzzled me as well. So, I had to do some digging.

I did try to contact the Lawrence campaign as I thought there might be a very simple explanation. I left a message - got a brief e-mail from the campaign manager, told them what I was asking about, and then got no response.

So, I went back to digging.

Now Jim and Mary Lawrence have been very, very generous to Democratic candidates. They have been particularly generous in supporting Senate candidates - its a long list. Klobuchar, Franken, Heitkamp, Kaine, McCaskill, Warner...(and not just token contributions, it is often the Federal individual maximum of $2500) they even gave $10,000 contributions to Democratic State Parties in Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia.

But in the middle of all that Democratic money, there sits these contributions to Mitt Romney from both of them. (Along with some small donations to Norm Coleman and Jim Ramstad that go way back - supporting "centrist, establishment Republicans";). I thought, there must be more to it than that.

A little more digging.

So as I looked at the timelines and the biographies, I found a connection that may make some sense - (although it would be nice to get it directly from the candidate). But it looks like James Lawrence at one time worked for Bain. Which, I assume, would mean an individual relationship with Mitt Romney in a working context. Maybe they were friends. Maybe they even argued politics. But giving a donation to someone you know is logical, even if they are from the other party....and even if that person is running for President against a Democrat you support (there are Obama contributions).

So, to me that seems to explain this a bit - and is worthy of acceptance.

As I researched, I found a few other interesting things. It seems that James had been courted by the DCCC to run against Erik Paulsen in the third district for 2014. Minnpost did an article. They even did some of that issue polling....you know, the stuff where they test issues against the incumbent, without naming any names. It would seem that nothing really came of it....or Mr. Lawrence decided against the possibility.

Another curious thing, in the Open Secrets list, is something called Politics Reimagined.

This looks like an individual project that James Lawrence started as a means of breaking through the gridlock. (Both James and Mary seem to focus on Congressional gridlock as a core issue for them.) Politics Reimagined was a SuperPac meant to work in the 2014 election cycle dealing with this goal....

Our goal is to formulate a centrist, bipartisan platform that addresses issues important for all Americans. With your support, we can encourage collaboration over contestation among candidates we support in order to make these goals realized and implemented.

The idea was to help elect "reasonable" people in either party who were committed to working across the aisle. It was clear that both Republicans and Democrats who met the criteria would be helped.

Lawrence initially funded this with $50,000 of his own money.

But as far as I can tell, it never went any further. There are few donations over that initial $50,000 and the project now seems to be abandoned. (Although the website is still here ) The PAC only spent a little over $30,000 during the 2014 cycle.

So, that is what I could glean from what initially seemed like an odd Republican contribution from a Democratic Congressional candidate.

I have been a little concerned, that outside of an announcement at the Congressional District 2 Central Committee, there hasn't been much visibility for Mary Lawrence. Outside of some press releases on Veterans Issues and one on Student Debt, we don't know much about her positions. I know it is early and I guess that shouldn't be a cause for concern - but given this centrist leaning, it raises a question in my mind as to whether or not she will abide by the endorsement.

If the campaign is listening, maybe we could talk?
comments (1) permalink

Otto Suspects Political Motives - Some Of Us No Longer "Suspect"

Category: 2016
Posted: 05/21/15 17:54

by Dave Mindeman

State Auditor Rebecca Otto got blindsided in her reelection bid last year when Matt Entenza decided to challenge her in the primary. He blindsided DFLers as a whole with that one and Otto won that primary going away with 80% of the vote. She went on to handily defeat her GOP opponent 55-38%.

But being blindsided is becoming an ongoing thing for Rebecca Otto's political career because the Senate agreed to a House proposal to privatize much of what the State Auditor does - which means Rebecca Otto, again, gets hit from the blind side from her supposed Democratic allies.

I think we can remove the "suspect" from the Senate actions. This was a Bakk deal, pure and simple. Otto needed to be put in her place after that vote she made against mining interests. Never mind that her vote was the only one in the negative and the policy continued unabated, but she was on the "list" and needed to be given some consequences.

That continues to be the Senate that Tom Bakk runs....and which puts a lot of Democratic policy in jeopardy and soon will put many Democratic legislators in jeopardy as well.

The sulfide mining amendment which exempts sulfide waste from toxic waste regulation and the elimination of the citizens board at MPCA - those are mining interest initiatives....and Bakk is the guy signing off on those last minute insertions. He is responsible.

Democrats are supposed to be looking out for the environment. They are supposed to be looking out for Democratic policies. And they are supposed to be supporting elected Democrats in general.

When the House lost the majority in the last election, I shuddered at the thought that Bakk would now be the Democratic voice in the legislature. I had hoped that Governor Dayton would be able to reign Bakk in and keep him on the policy path that got started with the previous legislature.

But Bakk made it clear that even Dayton was not above political retribution when it came to the Bakk agenda. Bakk proved that with his "backstabbing" move on Commissioner salaries.

Many of the Minnesota Senators are caught being "responsible" for these last minute blindsiding policy changes. Many of these Senators voted for these things without realizing they were there. And now, they are going to be held responsible for any backlash that comes.

I realize the Iron Range needs to have a strong voice in the legislature. They have interests that need to be addressed and the rest of us need to find ways to get compromise solutions that help them. But when a regional representative decides to steamroll his own agenda against the best interests of the body as a whole - well then you have a very different story.

And Bakk seems intent on doing exactly that.
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Bakk's Personal Architectural Project

Category: 2016
Posted: 05/21/15 14:44, Edited: 05/21/15 14:45

by Dave Mindeman

The ongoing revelations of what is coming out of these budget bills and the other bills that came up short of passage is getting ridiculous.

This one is over the top...

"In the final minutes of the legislative session Monday, the Senate feverishly passed a bonding bill that included a priority of Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook: $7.2 million for an underground parking garage at the State Capitol that would provide a grand total of 30 vehicle spaces."

C'mon Bakk. What the hell is going on? 30 spaces for.....hmmm leaderhip personnel maybe? Perks of the office?

Bakk has almost singlehandedly wrecked the future of DFL legislators. He might not have been the largest reason that the House DFL lost its majority, but he certainly contributed. And now he starts putting a burden on his own Senators.

Bakk, as usual, is in damage control. He released a statement:

"The provision in the bonding bill that passed the Senate with a wide bipartisan vote--but did not become law--would not have mandated the construction of a new parking structure. This provision would have made funding available for that purpose only if the Department of Administration deemed the elimination of the Lot N surface lot necessary.

Lot N is a parking lot directly adjacent to the Capitol building, allowing vehicles to park in a lot with minimal security features at such close proximity to the Capitol it could pose a real security threat. If the Department of Administration determines within four years that this concern needs to be addressed, these bonds would have been available for that purpose."


That bill did pass (House did not have time to take it up) with a wide bipartisan vote because the Senators were voting on a last minute bonding bill without a real chance to examine it. And no Senator I know of no one who knew that this "parking" provision was in there. In fact, a few have already expressed being upset that it was.

And his current statement says "security concerns". Yet, before...

Bakk previously told the Star Tribune he wanted the surface lot replaced with an underground garage so the current surface lot could be landscaped for better views, in addition to security concerns.

Bakk is treating this Capitol rennovation and Senate office building as if they are his own personal lawn project. And everybody else gets the bill and the consequences.

Who elected this guy?
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