John Kline's Trolling Spokesman (MN-02)

Man, the internet is not kind to Republican sleazy tactics. In Minnesota, conservative Republican John Kline's operatives have been posting anonymously on local blogs. His people have been busted once, and apparently here comes smackdown number two.

Congressman John Kline has resorted again to hiring people and recruiting volunteers to anonymously attack for him.

"Klinefan" a frequent (and impolite) poster to this blog has been posting his comments from the same ip address that hosts John Kline's re-election website!

Kline campaign spokesperson, Marcus Esmay, who recently sent a letter to the Star-Tribune that uses much of the same arguments in "Klinefan's" postings says he was also the only one who was in Kline's Burnsville campaign headquarters during Klinefan's most recent postings. When I called, Mr. Esmay said he had nothing to do with the postings. Coincidentally, "Klinefan" logged off the site within minutes of Mr. Esmay hanging up the phone. Draw your own conclusions.

John Kline has used anonymous bloggers to attack Coleen Rowley in the past. Michael Brodkorb made frequent anonymous attacks on Rowley as "MDE" until he was sued for libel and was forced to unmask. Brodkorb also happens to be the Republican Chair of Senate District 38, which coordinates Kline's campaign in the Eagan/Burnsville area. As we've reported before, Brodkorb is also on the payroll of a company that does work for John Kline's campaign and is also a paid consultant to the Mark Kennedy campaign.

That's some awesome integrity there. In Republican-land, this probably qualifies Marcus Esmay for a raise.

Reforming Elections By Winning Elections

Cos works for John Bonifaz for Secretary of State in Massachusetts.

Matt and Chris have invited me to cover election reform and voting rights on MyDD - issues I have bloggedabout here already.  By way of introduction, I want to address the biggest political problem I've seen plaguing the election-reform netroots.  On Daily Kos and MyDD, on the Democratic Underground Election Reform forum, on the email lists of local and regional Democracy for America and Progressive Democrats of America groups, I see this cry repeatedly:

What good does it do to support candidates?  With those Diebold machines, they can steal any election.  It's pointless to compete in elections when the votes won't be counted.
I understand the concern.  I've been organizing and campaigning against computer voting machines for several years.  I've collected signatures for verified voting petitions and helped organize a press conference, successfully lobbied Representatives to support Rush Holt's audit bill, and seen Bev Harris' 2 hour presentation in person and stayed for the Q&A.  On election day, 2004, I was at the Election Protection coalition's call center in Broward County, Florida, as VerifiedVoting.org's TechWatch volunteer, taking calls from voters and poll watchers about touchscreen voting machine problems.  I left Fort Lauderdale that night with a queasy feeling, and no confidence that the votes would be accurately counted.  So I'm somewhat familiar with this issue, and it does concern and disturb me.

The problem I have with the attitude I see from some election reform advocates - the attitude I paraphrased above - is that, in its extreme absolutism, it is deeply cynical.  It is nihilistic.  Rather than challenge us to work to solve the problem, it calls on us to throw up our hands in despair, to eschew the most powerful tool we have, and to cry out to the wilderness, "why won't anyone pay attention?"

In the past few years, I've volunteered and worked on a number of progressive campaigns.  I've canvassed, been a poll watcher, been a precinct captain, and ran a citywide get out the vote operation.  I've participated in a hand recount, and seen an election for Democratic State Committee go to a tie because several precincts didn't count write-in votes.  In another election, college students were challenged at the polls, and the number of legitimate voters turned away were almost enough to swing the election.  And I've learned something: There is nothing, not even money, that candidates and elected officials fear or respect more than votes.

Electoral politics is the strategy through which we pursue change in this country.  Just because the voting machines being used are unreliable or buggy, doesn't mean they'll throw every election, or even most elections.  Just because they have poor security and can be hacked, doesn't mean all, or even most elections, will be stolen.  If you run for Democratic State Committee or county committee, will Republicans sweep in to steal the election?  I've seen state representative elections decided by 93 votes, by 64 votes - and it is exactly these local and state officials who can solve the sort of mundane problems I observed.

That same election day in 2004, just to the north of me, incumbent Palm Beach County supervisor of elections Therese LePore was defeated by challenger Arthur Anderson, who campaigned against paperless voting.  He won 91,134 to 85,601, a margin of victory of 5,533 votes.

If we want to reform elections, we need to elect reformers to run our elections.  John Nichols' recent article in The Nation, Fighting for a Fair Vote, highlights a new crop of "Champions of Democracy" running to do just that: Mark Ritchie in Minnesota, Debra Bowen in California, Jennifer Brunner in Ohio, and John Bonifaz in Massachusetts, all running for secretary of state.  If the state of our elections disturbs you, don't throw up your hands and cry, "what's the use?".  Support reformers like these, and get them elected.

Me?  I'm working for John Bonifaz as his campaign blogger.

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Coleen Rowley for Congress

After hearing Coleen Rowley speak and reading interviews she has had with the media, I know we have a clear voice to speak out for change. Coleen Rowley will be a strong agent for change in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional district. If you listen to Coleen speak or read what she has written, you will know that we can once again have a thoughtful progressive voice in the legislature.

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MyDD Conversation with MN-02 Candidate Colleen Rowley

Last week I had the chance to speak with Colleen Rowley, one of Time magazine's people of the year in 2002 for blowing the whistle on the FBI and a current Congressional candidate in Minnesota's 2nd district.

Unfortunately, I am having some difficulty uploading the audio from the interview (I'm almost done switching over to a new system, but the move is not yet complete), but you can read a rush transcript below.

Jonathan Singer: For those who are unfamiliar with your story still, could you please share with us why you are running for Congress?

Colleen Rowley: When you said story, I couldn't help thinking of that Country/Western song, "This is My Story and I'm Sticking with It."

But in my announcement, I explained that I had witnessed pre-9/11 some of the errors in the Moussaoui case that prevented more effective investigation and could have in some ways prevented or minimized 9/11. As bad as that was, I then of course had the misfortune of witnessing a whole number of series of mistakes, almost like dominoes, since 9/11. I think in many ways the terror attacks have furnished a basis and a pretext for so much of what's gone wrong.


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MN GOP: The Snitch Party

Please act on this ASAP -- tonight, if at all possible.

Minnesota State Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson was asked leading questions at a private event recently regarding an anti-gay bill, and his comments were secretly recorded without his knowledge. Those comments are now being twisted around gleefully by the state Republicans and their well-funded allies, who are even now readying TV ads using carefully-edited snippets of the recording.

What is not being mentioned in the press is that since the recording was made without the knowledge or consent of the persons speaking at that function, it is therefore illegal under Minnesota state wiretapping law.  Minnesota Statute § 626A.02 (http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/stats /626A/02.html) allows recording conversations only if at least one of the parties is told in advance, or if one of the parties is doing the recording.  Neither of those conditions applied here.

(More after the jump.)

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