Saturday, December 17, 2011

Republicans in the News

Two stories in the last few days haven't helped things for Minnesota Republicans. The first, concerning the behavior of Amy Koch, now the former Senate Majority Leader following her abrupt midweek resignation, is the more salacious of the two, but far less interesting than the other. Koch should have known better and I'm glad she's gone. What else is there to say about it, really?

The second story troubles me a hell of a lot more -- the complicated tale of woe concerning Brandon Sawalich, an executive with Starkey Labs who had decided to throw his hat in the ring for chairman of the GOP. The Star Tribune, in a rectal examination a news story, tell us a number of things about Mr. Sawalich:

In what an official for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is blaming on a state clerical error, a candidate to head Minnesota's Republican Party was arrested this week outside baggage claim, then fingerprinted and photographed -- for expired vehicle tabs.

There's a message there -- your freedom is contingent on proper execution of bureaucratic clerical requirements. But there's more:

On Friday morning, airport police at first declined to explain why this offense, "intent to escape tax," warranted booking Sawalich. By midday, the chief spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) said that Sawalich should not have been accused of a gross misdemeanor, blaming the mixup on a clerical error by the state's Driver and Vehicle Services.

"We do not believe he had any such intent," said MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan. "Mr. Sawalich will receive a citation for failure to have current registration for his vehicle, which is a petty misdemeanor."

Hogan said that police were working on inaccurate information from the state that the pickup's tabs had been expired since June 2010, leading to a suspicion of intent.

They later determined that the tabs expired in June 2011, which reflects "a simple oversight" by Sawalich, Hogan said.

Perhaps there was an apology in there somewhere, but I don't see it. Of course, Sawalich should have paid for his tabs, although it's the sort of thing that would be easy to forget about. It beggars belief that a guy who is an executive with Starkey would have any reason to stiff the state over vehicle tabs. That's where the "intent" thing comes in.

For his trouble, Sawalich had to pay for his tabs, plus $138 to get his truck out of the impound lot and $60 for cab fare back to his house. I assume he'll have to eat that $200, even though there was no reason he should have incurred those costs.

Of course, those weren't the only costs he's paying:

On Friday, Sawalich dropped out of the race to head Minnesota Republicans, saying in an e-mail to activists that the party "cannot afford distractions for the uphill battle our party has in store."

That's tough, but he would have had an uphill battle to win the post anyway. One of the lingering problems of Tony Sutton's tenure is the sense that the state GOP wasn't paying attention to financial details, which is a real problem when you have to rely on voluntary contributions for your operations. Forgetting to pay for your tabs doesn't mean much in the greater scheme of things, but when attention to detail is crucial, such a problem is magnified.

So, Sawalich is out of the race, has paid for his tabs and is presumably going back to being a private citizen. End of story, right? If you thought so, you don't understand the modern media environment. The Star Tribune saw fit to add a completely gratuitous paragraph to the end of his account, detailing events in Sawalich's life that happened 8 and 10 years ago, respectively. If you want to see what they are, you can click on the link, but I'll not share them here. Sawalich is apparently 36 years old, which means that the events in question happened when he was less than 30 years old. In other words, even though he is now out of the race, Sawalich was Emmerized.

There's a message in that last paragraph -- if you would seek to be a prominent Republican, or even prominent in the inner workings of the party, you can expect to have every indiscretion of your life shared with the world. So you'd better damn well keep your light under a bushel.


Leavy Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W.B. Picklesworth said...

The petty tyranny of small men. It reminds me of a short story by Willa Cather called "The Sculptor's Funeral." The long and the short of the story is that petty, small-minded people make for a petty, small-minded society. It makes all of us the poorer, whatever one might think of the particular politics.

Anonymous said...

How about the part where he had to reveal that he settled on sexual harassment claims? Is that worth mentioning, or no?

Mr. D said...

How about the part where he had to reveal that he settled on sexual harassment claims? Is that worth mentioning, or no?

He'd left the race even before that came out. There was no reason to bring it up at all in my view, especially since we have no idea what was alleged or if the settlement was simply to make someone go away, which is often the case in such matters. If he'd done something serious, his career at his employer would have been over and clearly it's not.

But thanks for dragging it into my comment section anonymously. Nice job.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

There is an irony in sexual harassment. It is a means of hurting or destroying another person. The righteous desire to stamp it out make charges of sexual harassment much the same thing, a means of destroying another person. In other words, being accused means nothing. What does settling mean? Is settling synonymous with guilt as Anon seems to imply? If so we sail in shark infested waters.

(I say this as a general observation, not knowing
anything about the man or the charges in question.)

Gino said...

what makes sexual harassment a great weapon is its vagueness.