Friday, July 16, 2010

Sending a Messinger to the Minnesota Citizenry

Mitch Berg has outdone himself with an outstanding bit of reporting concerning the shadowy and scurrilous group "Alliance for a Better Minnesota" (AfaBM). These are the people who've been recently running fact-free attack ads against Tom Emmer, including an ad that recently earned an F from the KSTP-TV Truth Test.

Mitch, who is doing the work that the professional media in this state ought to be doing, did something that shadowy, scurrilous groups like the AfaBM really hate: he followed the money. And he learned some fascinating things. There's a great amount of detail in Mitch's report, which you should read in its entirety. One thing becomes quite clear: there's a whole lot of Dayton family money behind the AfaBM. Mitch found the following names donating big bucks to an organization tied to the Alliance for a Better Minnesota called "Win Minnesota" (the parentheticals are Mitch's):

Andrew Dayton $1,000
David Dayton $50,000
John Cowles $25,000 [Remember him from 2006?]
MaryLee Dayton $250,000
Emily Tuttle (MN) $5,000
Ronald Sternal (MN) $5,000
Alida Messinger (NY) $500,000
James Deal (MN) $50,000
Roger Hale (MN) $10,000 [Remember him from above?]
Barbara Forster (MN) $25,000
Democratic Governors Association $250,000;

So of the $1.1 and change million warchest, $851,000 came from Daytons, and Alida Messinger.

Now I can understand that the rest of the Dayton family would like to buy their relative a nice political office and I don't begrudge them that. It's a good way to keep Brave Sir Mark busy and away from getting involved in the rest of the family business. Why they want to give Mark Dayton the power to get involved in my business is another matter.

The puzzling part is this Alida Messinger woman, who has now given well over a million dollars to the various front organizations. Why would she do that? Mitch has the answer:

And who is this Alida Messinger who has contributed so mightily – over $1.46 million over the past four years! – to the cause of disinforming Minnesotans about Republicans? Other than the youngest daughter of John D. Rockefeller III?

The ex-wife of candidate Mark Dayton.

So “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” is essentially a front for a group of unions and, to the tune of millions over the past four years, Mark Dayton’s family, friends and ex-wife.

Look, if the Dayton family wants to buy a governorship, they're certainly entitled to try. What the citizenry needs to know is that they are trying to do it by filtering the money through front organizations. Mitch has provided a valuable service in exposing this game they are playing. Now let's see if the kept media here in the Twin Cities (I'm looking at you, John Croman and Pat Kessler) are going to mention any of this highly useful information to their viewers -- there's almost no hope that the Star Tribune will.

One last thing -- I'll give one of Dayton's opponents, the otherwise risible Matt Entenza, credit for one thing: Entenza is trying to buy the election, too, but at least he's up front about it.

I'll say it again: go and read the rest of Mitch's piece. It's the best piece of journalism that anyone in this state has done all year, by a fairly substantial margin.


Brent said...

So I am confused. Do you support the DISCLOSE Act, or should Corporations be allowed to spend money anonymously and only the Dayton's be held to account for money they spend on elections?

Mr. D said...

I support letting anyone spend money in any amount they want, so long as there is full disclosure. If the Daytons want to buy the election, we should know that. If Target Corporation (which does not support Dayton) wants to buy the election, we should know that too.

One reason this is an issue is that Dayton quite ostentatiously said he wasn't going to self-finance this time around. Turns out he is but he's trying to conceal that through the front organizations.

And no, I don't support the DISCLOSE Act, because it carves out exceptions for favored groups. There's no good reason to favor one group's money over anyone else's money.

Brent said...

So if the NRA was not exempt, you would support the DISCLOSE Act? I guess that would be consistant with your post.

Mr. D said...

No, I don't support the DISCLOSE Act, because its goal is the suppression of speech by suppression of some organizations over others. There's no reason that, say, WCCO or GE (as the parent of NBC), should be able to spend whatever money they want to support candidates because they are media companies, vs. Medtronic or anyone else. The people who support the DISCLOSE Act are trying to pick favorites.

As for the NRA, they are trying to get a separate peace. I don't approve of that either, but I would oppose the DISCLOSE Act in any event.

I support full disclosure by everyone. It's possible to do with the internet. If people, or companies, or organizations want to buy candidates, that's fine -- so long as I (and you and everyone else) can find out about it. And if I can find out who's trying to buy the election, I can blog about it. And will.