As we all know this has been an especially contentious election cycle and the strains have been evident in many families. Voters in House District 50B may not have been aware of the tragedy unfolding within their midst, but we need to be mindful of, and sympathetic to, those families who have fallen victim to the raw partisan anger that has been on display.
We received what can only be categorized as a cry for help in the mail yesterday. The mailing was sent under the auspices of the ever-caring Minnesota DFL State Committee. This is an organization with a well-earned reputation for honesty and for the well-documented assertions that it makes concerning the passing scene. Because of the gentle nature of this organization, I was somewhat taken aback by the ferocious illustration on the cover of the brochure, which features feral lobbyists caged behind a glass door. It's a disturbing, alarming image.
Upon opening the brochure, I learned that it concerned the corrosive nature of lobbyists in St. Paul and the courageous efforts of certain local legislators to stem the tide of corruption that emanates from these jackals in Ferragamo shoes. I was alarmed to learn that a candidate for whom I offered support, Lori Grivna, apparently registered as a lobbyist. While it would have been easy to feel as betrayed, it seemed prudent to find out what evils she had perpetrated. As it turns out, she had indeed spoken with a number of legislators in 2007 on behalf of the Mounds View School Board. Once Lori's work was done at the end of the 2007 session, she ceased this activity.
I read on. The DFL brochure assured me that Grivna's opponent, Representative Kate Knuth, "stands up to the special interests." I learned from the brochure that Rep. Knuth "locked the lobbyists' revolving door," and that her commitment included refusing meals and gifts from lobbyists, and that, further, she was "putting solutions for our families ahead of lobbyists."
It all sounds noble, but there's a sad undercurrent to the tale. Since we know the DFL's reputation for probity, it is clear from the brochure that Rep. Knuth will have nothing to do with lobbyists. Unfortunately, that means that she has had to break openly with her own family. You see, her father is a lobbyist. Among his other clients, Dan Knuth has lobbied for Fresh Energy, an organization that has lobbied at the Capitol for years. As it turns out, Rep. Knuth introduced legislation establishing an environmental cap and trade policy that would directly benefit Fresh Energy. Imagine the betrayal Rep. Knuth must have felt when she learned that the policies that she was offering would benefit not only a lobbyist, but her own father.
The rift is so serious that one must assume that Rep. Knuth won't even eat at her father's house any more, because the DFL State Committee assures us that she eschews meals with lobbyists. One can imagine an unwrapped birthday gift sitting in a forlorn corner of her parent's house, gathering dust because their daughter would never accept any gifts from a lobbyist. Principled behavior is a lonely thing.
It's a cautionary tale and a reminder that politics are an ugly business. One can only hope that some day, once Rep. Knuth leaves the legislature, there will be a chance for this fractured family to heal.
Cross-posted at True North