Minnesota Legislators Turn To GoFundMe To Pay Bills

Saint Paul. MN — Ronald “Bud” Carlson, a 68-year old veteran of the Minnesota Senate (R-Lake City), desperately needed a new power tie for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual meeting at a Trump Hotel in Las Vegas last week. But he didn’t have the money to pay for the Stefano Ricci one he needed.

“A lobbyist asked if it was the same red power tie I wore last year,” said Carlson. “It was obviously one of the most profoundly humiliating moments of my life.”

Meanwhile, Becca Nowakowski-Alexopoulos, a 38-year old member of the Minnesota House (DLF-Minneapolis), is weeks behind in her regular contributions to a climate change nonprofit organization, donations which she makes to offset the carbon emitted during her regular plane trips to climate change conferences.

“It’s certainly not a coincidence that hurricanes started devastating vulnerable socioeconomic populations after my carbon offset contributions had to stop,” noted an emotional Nowakowski-Alexopoulos.

Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos are just two of the many legislators courageously struggling to continue their public service careers in the wake of Governor Mark Dayton’s controversial line-item veto of funding for the Minnesota Legislature. The State Supreme Court recently issued a convoluted non-ruling ruling to avoid resolving the constitutional crisis, instead ordering the Governor and Legislature to work with a mediator and “figure it out yourself.”

But in a heartwarming moment of bipartisan cooperation, Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos, who are often bitter enemies during legislative debates, have been collaborating to solicit contributions via the crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com.

Their hope is that crowdfunding, the raising of small donations from large numbers of people via the Internet, will help them and their colleagues survive until the bitter impasse with Governor Dayton can be resolved.  An estimated $34 billion was raised via crowdfunding in 2015.

“Minnesotans have been truly amazing, sharing their stories of our legislative heroism at #MNlegStrong and digging deep to prove how much they value us,” said Nowakowski-Alexopoulos.

Over the past month, $200,035.73 has been raised, including $100,000 from ALEC and $100,000 from the AFL-CIO. Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos have recently brought in a second Minnesota Supreme Court-appointed mediator to resolve irreconcilable differences about how to distribute the funds among the 201 legislators and their staffs.

Minnesota Senate Candidate Mike McFadden Wins Another Blockbuster Endorsement

Molly_McFadden_adSaint Paul, Minnesota – In news that could shake up Minnesota’s previously sleepy U.S. Senate contest, Republican candidate Mike McFadden announced today that he has landed the endorsement of his young daughter Molly McFadden.

“With just two weeks left in the campaign, we decided to launch our October Surprise,” said McFadden, a CEO of an investment banking company from Sunfish Lake.

Ms. McFadden’s announcement was made through a new television ad produced by the McFadden campaign.  The transcript of Ms. McFadden’s ad follows:

My dad, Mike McFadden, is running for Senate.  He really tries.  But he’s not very good at this political stuff.

Problem is, dad’s super honest.  He works hard.  And he’d rather help people than attack them.

Dad’s been all over Minnesota telling people about his plan.

But I can tell you this:  He’s a good guy, with a great heart, and he’ll give everything for Minnesota.”

The announcement continues a red hot streak for the McFadden campaign, having secured the endorsement of the candidate’s Obamacare-hating peewee football players, fiscal analyzing son Conor, and now his political analyst daughter Molly.

“Amazingly, Mike is on the verge of getting endorsed by every one of his offspring, while liberal Al Franken hasn’t been endorsed by a single McFadden child,” said McFadden campaign spokesperson I.O. Koch.

In a rare moment of political harmony, the Franken campaign released a statement agreeing with Ms. McFadden:  “While we dispute the ad assertions that Mike is honest, doesn’t attack people, and has a plan that he is sharing,  we cannot disagree with the ad’s observation that Mike “is not very good at this political stuff.”

Note:  This post is satire.  Though Mike really did release a series of sappy ads featuring endorsements from his young players, son, and daughter, the reaction quotes are fabricated for my own amusement.

New Poll Shows Secret of GOP Candidate Jeff Johnson’s Early Political Strength

A new survey released today finds that Minnesota Republican gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson now trails incumbent DFL Governor Mark Dayton by just nine points, 39% to 48%.  Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, has never won a statewide race before.

Map_of_popular_surnamesWhile the findings are a surprise to some veteran political observers, a closer look provides a clue why the relative political newcomer may be showing so strongly.  About 78 percent of likely Minnesota voters who say they are supporting Johnson believe that he is either their co-worker (26 percent), neighbor (21 percent), business associate (17 percent), or relative (14 percent).

According to U.S. Census data, Johnson is the most common surname in Minnesota, surpassing the ubiquitous Andersons, Olsons, Petersons, and Nelsons in Minnesota’s top five.

Asked of 800 likely Minnesota voters, the survey’s margin of error is minus or plus 3.9 percent.

Note:  This post is satirical, false, and not-to-believed, but somehow also feels plausible.

Minnesota Senate Candidate McFadden Releases New Humorous Ad

Mike_McFadden_groin_hilaritySaint Paul, Minn. — Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden (R-Sunfish Lake) followed an earlier campaign television ad that ended with a child-inflicted injury to his groin with a new  television ad that uses thinly veiled flatulence-based humor to further make his case for election to the U.S. Senate.

“We’re just trying to have some good clean fun, while making a very serious point about Al Franken’s big government, job-killing stuff,” said McFadden.

The ad opens with a fog rolling over a grainy black-and-white photo of a frowning Senator Al Franken. Ominous music drones throughout the spot, and two 10-year old boys on a playground chime in in a sign-songy tone.

Male adult announcer: “Something is very, very rotten in Washington.”

Male child actor #1: “Al Franken says the Iraq War and Great Recesssion  are not his fault. But he who smelt it, dealt it.” (giggle)

Announcer: “Death panels.  IRSgate. Benghazi. Al Franken wants to keep it silent. But we all know, they’re silent but DEADLY.”

Male child actor #2: “Whoever rebuts it, cuts it.” (giggle)

Mike McFadden: (Giggling and holding his nose ) “I’m Mike McFadden, and I declare it, so Al can no longer blare it.”

(McFadden then sits on whoopee cushion. McFadden and kids giggle in unison.)

Mike McFadden:  “Oh no, not again, Al!”

The ad began running across Minnesota today. Like the groin ad, it was created by Washington-based Sophmoric Productions.

– Loveland

Note:  This post is satire and the featured ad doesn’t exist, for now.

Billionaire Purchases Naming Rights To Uninsured South Dakotans

Sioux Falls, South Dakota — South Dakota billionaire banker and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford announced today that he will fund free health coverage for 48,000 uninsured, low-income South Dakotans.  The announcement comes in the wake of Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard’s continued refusal to accept $224 million in federal funding to cover the same group of citizens.

In recent years, Sanford has been lauded for donating large amounts of money to South Dakota health facilities, sports complexes, and other popular projects.   The high interest banker often has his projects named after him, such as Sanford Health™, Sanford Children’s™, Sanford Heart™,  Sanford Medical School™, Sanford Pentagon™, Sanford Sports Complex™, and Denny Sanford Premier Center™.

Sanford’s latest donation comes in the midst of a bitter political debate that has been intensifying in South Dakota for several years.

As part of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes called Obamacare, about 48,000 low income South Dakotans are eligible for Medicaid coverage.  By the year 2020, South Dakota was to have received a massive influx of $224 million due to this expansion of coverage.

Medicaid_ExpansionHowever Governor Daugaard has refused the $224 million to cover uninsured poor people, citing his  personal opposition to Obamacare and the cost of the expansion that would be paid by South Dakota.  The federal government is paying 100 percent of the total costs through 2016, and 90 percent after that.

The neighboring states of Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota are all expanding Medicaid coverage to uninsured citizens, while Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming are not.  States that are opting out of the program will leave over 5 million of the poorest Americans without basic health benefits, or shifting their health care costs to other citizens.

Under pressure from South Dakota physicians and 63% of South Dakotans who support the Medicaid expansion, Daugaard recently asked the federal government to cover a little over half of the eligible citizens, but deny coverage to the rest of eligible citizens. The federal government rejected Daugaard’s proposal, leaving all 48,000 South Dakotans without coverage.  The Legislature  refused to allow the Medicaid expansion question to be posed to South Dakota voters at the ballot box.

But Sanford stepped into the fray today, announcing that he is creating a new Medicaid-like health plan, which he is calling SanfordCare™.  Any South Dakota citizen who would have been eligible for the Obamacare expansion would be eligible for the free SandfordCare™ coverage, provided they agree to legally change their surnames to Sanford™.  Any children born while under the health coverage would also have to adopt the first name Denny™ or Denita™.

Note:  This post is, to the best of our knowledge, satire.  There is no SanfordCare proposal, but there are 48,000 South Dakotans being denied health coverage.

Franken Opponent McFadden Refuses To Confirm Own Existence

invisible_manSaint Paul, Minnesota — Minnesota U.S.  Senate candidate Mike McFadden held a news conference today to announce that he would be announcing nothing.

“Minnesota is great, and I’ll do lots of great stuff in the Senate to make it even greater,” said McFadden, to roaring applause from his supporters.  “Beyond that, I promise that I will not do wasteful ungreat things that keep Minnesota from becoming greater.”

Under questioning from reporters, the wealthy businessman running to replace U.S. Senator Al Franken refused to provide positions  on the national policy issues that are debated in the U.S. Senate.   For example, McFadden declined to state his position on the minimum wage, the Paycheck Fairness Act and a “personhood” anti-birth control measure.

MinnPost reporter Eric Black recently attempted to profile the stealth Senate candidate, but struggled to find anything to profile beyond the over $2 million the former businessman has raised from enthusiastic conservative donors.  Black characterized the McFadden record like this:

I’m not sure what the record is for seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate without disclosing issue positions, but McFadden, who declared his candidacy nine months ago, may be giving it a run.

There is no “issues” section on his campaign website. He skipped the first three opportunities to debate his Republican opponents for the nomination.  On Monday, he appeared at the fourth debate, but that one was closed to the press and public.

The McFadden campaign maintains that the candidate has taken many position stands, such as his desire to “name way more awesome things after Ronald Reagan” and “repeal and replace” the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

When pressed for details about what he would replace the ACA with, McFadden said that announcement would need to wait until he begins his six-year term in office.

“We will help, not hurt Americans,” McFadden  explained.

The campaign did release a 12-page single spaced list of things McFadden would rename after Ronald Reagan.

When asked to name political role models McFadden listed Ronald Reagan, several Reagan impersonators and Chauncey Gardiner.

“By standing for no one, and Mike is appealing to everyone,” said Saul Loes, a conservative political consultant advising the McFadden campaign. “He just might be the most brilliant politician of our generation, if he exists, which we are neither confirming nor denying.”

Note:  This post is satire.

MN GOPers Offer Bill To Insure More Families and Ban Preexisting Condition Exclusions

Saint Paul, Minnesota (April 1, 2014) —  Republicans legislators in the Minnesota House of Representatives today released detailed legislation that would extend health insurance to 489,000 uninsured Minnesotans, and guarantee that Minneostans will never again be denied health coverage because of a preexisting health condition.

“Democrats have put their detailed health care plan out there to be analyzed by Minnesota citizens, so we decided that we should develop our own detailed proposal,” said Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).

republican_alternative_to_obamacare_GingrichThe Democrats’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made it illegal for private insurance companies to deny coverage due to pre-existing health conditions, something that impacts many of the 2.3 million Minnesotans who have some type of pre-existing health condition, and others who could develop one in the future.

The ACA also successfully helped 95,000 of Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens get efficiently covered in Medicaid, including about 12,000 uninsured Minnesotans whose medical expenses were being shifted to insured Minnesotans.  In addition, the ACA covers 35,000 Minnesota young adults, many of whom otherwise would have been uninsured, but now are able to stay on their parents’ health policy until age 26.  Finally, over 150,000 Minnesotans recently enrolled into health insurance plans via the MNsure online insurance selection and comparison tool, in part because the plans offered on MNsure carried the lowest premiums in the nation.

Despite those findings, Republicans gathered at a news conference at the State Capitol today to declare the Democratic effort a “train wreck,” and to release their detailed legislative alternative  They note that their legislation will achieve more results at a fraction of the cost of the ACA.

“We’re proud of our party’s health reform ideas, and have no problem setting our detailed proposal alongside the Democrats’ detailed proposal,” said Daubt.  “In fact, we have already asked for a non-partisan third party analysis of our legislation, so that Minnesotans can see precisely how our bill compares with the ACA in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and affordability.”

In other April 1 news, a large group of boars was reported to be flying through a brutal polar vortex over the frozen southeastern Michigan town of Hell.  The soaring swine seemed to be disoriented by a blinding morning sunrise on the western horizon.

Note:  This satirical post was featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs.

Minnesota Law Enforcement Lobbyists Move To Criminalize Abused Prescription Pain Drugs

prescription_pain_killer_bustSaint Paul, Minn. —  A coalition of Minnesota law enforcement officials announced today that it will push to ban Minnesota patients from using a long list of dangerous prescription pain killers being sold on the streets by criminals.

At a news conference at the State Capitol today, the  Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition (MLEC) called for legislation to ban codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, bitartrate, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, meperidine, and propoxyphene.  Law enforcement officials stressed that these prescription pain medicines all are dangerous when not used as prescribed, and are currently being sold by criminals on the streets, often to young people.

MLEC has taken the same stand against legislation to make marijuana available to Minnesota patients.  Because many seriously ill patients find that marijuana relieves pain and nausea, it has been legalized for medical use in 20 states.  But MLEC opposes making marijuana available to Minnesota patients, since it  can be harmful when abused, and is being sold illegally on the streets.

“We must do whatever we can to eliminate the abuse and criminal activity associated with these dangerous prescription pain killers,” said Wayne Krupke, Executive Director of MLEC.  “For the same reasons marijuana shouldn’t be given to patients, these prescription pain killers shouldn’t be given to patients.”

The advocacy organization Patients for Effective Pain Management (PEPM) maintains that drugs like marijuana, morphine and oxycodone relieve the pain of seriously ill patients, and the good that comes from that outweighs the harm caused by abusers of those drugs.

morphine_pump“It’s inhumane to deny a proven pain reliever to suffering patients, simply because abuse is possible,” said Mary Ann Wakefield, PEPM’s Executive Director.  “Many of the most effective pain meds can be abused or sold on the black market, but that doesn’t mean that we should turn our backs on patients helped by those drugs.”

However, Krupke maintains that the medical community has many other pain killers at their disposal, such as aspirin, acupuncture and meditation.  At the same time, he points out that the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that approximately 16 million Americans reported using a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons in 2010.

“As with marijuana, no one can guarantee that drugs like morphine and oxycodone won’t be sold by drug dealers and abused by kids,” said Krupke.  “Until and unless they can provide such a guarantee, those pain killers must be outlawed for all, including patients.”

Meanwhile, Governor Mark Dayton pledged to support whatever the law enforcement lobby recommends.

“I will not compromise on this issue unless someone can convince the law enforcement lobby to compromise on it,” said Dayton.  “When it comes to what is best for patients in pain, I put my full confidence in the law enforcement lobby.”

Note:  This post is satire, and not an actual news story.  It was featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs.

GOP Senators Offer Compromise Design For New Senate Office Building

Saint Paul, MN — Minnesota Republicans today revealed an alternative design for a new office building to serve as home to state senators and their staffs.

Minnesota_Senate_Office_Building-2Republicans have been critical of a $63 million building design backed by Senate DFLers and Goverrnor Dayton.  They say the design is too lavish, such as plans for a reflecting pool and more space than senators currently occupy in the State Capitol Building.

Today Senate Republicans put forward a compromise design.   Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) said she was aware that some citizens have come to believe that GOP legislators only criticize others’ proposals, without offering constructive alternatives of their own.

“This is a great example of Republicans being reasonable, constructive, and innovative,” said Fischbach.

Fischbach said she and her colleagues retained King Oscar Designs, an architectural firm in Monterey, California that is known worldwide for making efficient use of space.  An artist’s rendering of the alternative office building was released today by Senate Republicans at a State Capitol news conference.

Strom_Senate_Office_Building_rendering-2“We removed the elitist elements from the DFL-backed design, such as windows, space not being occupied by bodies, and ventilation systems,” said Oscar Pilchards, Chief Architectural Officer at King Oscar.  “It’s a classic design that is much more streamlined, sustainable and efficient than the previous design.”

Fischbach stressed that the alternative plan represented a sincere effort to meet Senate DFLers half way.

“In the spirit of compromise, we did include a modified version of the skylight that our Democrat friends wanted, and are heating the structure with 100% body heat, a renewable energy source,” said Fischbach.

The Republican caucus proposed to name the building after David Strom, a former Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota lobbyist who has been named by City Pages as Minnesota’s “Best Villain” for his stanch conservative advocacy.  However, several members of the Senate Republican caucus were said to be outraged by that decision, noting that they believed Strom was too liberal for such an honor.

For their part, DFL Senate leaders were not impressed with King Oscar’s alternative plans.

“Frankly, it stinks,” concluded Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Duluth).

Note:   This post is absurdist satire, I think.

Note:  This post was also featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs.

Rep. Ellison’s Ultimatum: Single Payer or Government Shutdown

SatireSaint Paul, Minn. –U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)  announced today that he is leading a progressive effort to shut down the federal government until a single payer health insurance system replaces the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, further complicating the federal budget impasse.

“The private insurance exchanges used in the ACA were never what progressives wanted, so ‘we the people’ have decided to make a principled stand against them,” said Ellison, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  The Caucus has long advocated for a single payer system in which the government would fund and operate a single insurance pool for all Americans, similar to how Medicare has long been structured for older Americans.

Rep. Ellison’s rhetoric was eerily similar to that of his fellow House Republicans, who have pushed for replacing the Affordable Care Act with the status quo system.  Under the current system, 48 million Americans are uninsured and health costs are among the highest in the industrialized world.

Rep. Ellison said his caucus is pushing legislation authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to essentially build on and expand the federal Medicare program.  Under the bill, all Americans would be guaranteed access to health care regardless of an ability to pay or pre-existing health conditions.

Just as Tea Party-backed House conservatives advocated in 2009 for preserving the status quo private health insurance system, House progressives pushed for a single payer approach in 2009. But neither side was able to muster sufficient votes to enact their preferred policy.

Still Ellison points to an Associated Press poll finding that 65% of Americans agree that “the United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers.”  Ellison also noted an NPR poll shows that 93 percent of Americans believe that the number of uninsured under the status quo system that the Republicans are fighting to preserve is a “serious problem.”

“When House Republicans finally agree to open up the government again, we’re going to shut it down if they don’t support our single payer approach,” Ellison said.  “House Republicans shut down the government to maintain a status quo insurance system that almost all Americans believe is a serious problem, so progressives can damn sure shut it down over something that two-thirds of Americans support.”

Rep. Ellison said he has offered to compromise with Republicans by offering to delay the implementation of the single payer system by a year.  Ellison has also offered to allow private insurers to sell Medigap-like supplemental health insurance plans.  However, Ellison says Republicans are refusing to even discuss compromise.

In a related development, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced that he would move to re-shut down the federal government if House Republican lawmakers didn’t pass his legislation to require background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online.  A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 86% of Americans support such background checks.  Despite this overwhelming public support, Manchin’s bill was rejected by House Republicans in April 2013.  Manchin also demanded a new credenza for his office.

NOTE:  If it is not obvious to you, THIS IS SATIRE.  IT IS NOT A TRUE STORY. Representatives Ellison, Conyers, and Manchin are much too responsible to shutdown the government when they don’t get their way in the democratic process.

This post was featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs and in MinnPost’s Blog Cabin.

Related post:  Bachmann Vindicated:  Industrialized Nations Continue Rush to Replicate U.S. Health Care System

– Loveland

MN GOP Condemns Colleague for Endorsing Spherical Earth Theory

Saint Paul, MN — In the wake of two Minnesota Republicans’ shocking endorsements of  freedom-to-marry legislation, today Minnesota Representative Orville Nielsen (R-Outing)  further stunned the state’s political establishment by becoming the first member of his caucus to say he now believes that the planet Earth is probably not shaped like a disk.

Conservatives were quick to downplay the Nielsen announcement as an isolated example of a misguided member being bullied by “junk scientists,” and not the beginning of a movement toward a more science-friendly Republican Party.  A few Republican officials who asked not to be identified also expressed concern that Nielsen may be suffering from a mental illness. Continue reading