MN-08: Radical Rick Nolan Returns To Washington

During the recent election Rep Chip Cravaack and his extremist friends repeatedly pounded away at former Congressman Rick Nolan for being “liberal and radical”, and warned voters Nolan would continue his “radical ways” if returned to Congress. Well, Radical Rick soundly defeated Tea Party Chip on November 6, and in a telephone news conference Monday, the 8th District congressman-elect outlined his radical agenda: changing the way we do politics by getting big special interest money out of elections, supporting a national light rail transit system, and passing sensible BWCA land swap legislation that represents the best interests of northern Minnesota residents.

In the early morning phone call with reporters, Nolan said he was optimistic that a BWCA land exchange bill could still be passed this year, but without the problematic provisions of Cravaack’s bill: exempting lands from the Thye-Blatnik Act, which would result in millions of lost revenue for Lake, Cook and St Louis counties; weakening protections normally afforded to federal lands; potentially allowing logging and mining interests to avoid paying revenue due to the taxpayers for use of the land. Radical Rick noted there is currently no companion bill in the Senate, and indicated he would ask Senators Franken and Klobuchar to introduce legislation that could garner bi partisan support for the land exchange and enable its passage before this session of Congress adjourns.

This new approach to the BWCA land swap highlights the difference in representation 8th district residents will notice in many areas over the coming months. Whereas Tea Party Chip’s first statements as congressman-elect were to oppose funding for the new terminal at the Duluth International Airport and for the Northern Lights Express, Radical Rick voiced strong support for a national light rail transit system, which he said would “create jobs and provide a cost effective and sensible” means of transport. And Nolan emphasized we need to continue funding for northern Minnesota airports, funding that Cravaack voted to cut or eliminate during his single term in Congress.

Nolan was also critical of the role money now plays in politics, describing it as “dangerous and threatening to our democracy”. “Members should be beholden to the public and not to the highest bidder,” he continued, and under the current system “Members spend too much time fundraising and not enough time governing.” Radical Rick plans to introduce legislation providing for federal funding for campaigns, limiting the amount of time Members devote to campaigning, and overturning the Citizen’s United ruling.

Nolan made these comments as he headed out to Washington DC for what will be his second freshman orientation. He was first elected to Congress in 1974 and served until 1980, experience that gives him a significant edge over new Members. And Nolan retains seniority from his previous service which will likely assist him in securing assignments to committees key to the 8th district: Natural Resources, and Transportation and Infrastructure. Nolan said he is eager to get to work and is particularly looking forward to the National Mining Association reception for Members of Congress this week. And the Cuyuna Range native noted that his family will continue to live in northern Minnesota “I’m just going to find a room right close by the Capitol where I can stay when Congress is in session. We’ll keep our home up in Crow Wing County where we’ve been all our lives”

Yep, that’s radical for an 8th district congressman all right.

MN-08: Veda Ponikvar Calls Out Chip Cravaack In New TV Ads

Not much gets past Iron Range publishing icon Veda Ponikvar.

The 93 years young Ponikvar (who earned the moniker “Iron Lady” for her battle against the Steel Trust), has watched in disgust as Rep Chip Cravaack blundered and lied through his 2 years in Congress.

Well, the Iron Lady is mad and she’s not going to take it any more. So Ponikvar recently teamed up with award winning documentary filmmaker Tom Selinski to produce two new TV ads for the group Regular Folks From The Range.

Registered with the FEC as an electioneering and communications organization, Regular Folks From The Range does not endorse any particular candidate, but focuses on informing the public about Chip Cravaack’s abysmal voting record and embarrassing performance in Congress through ads currently running on cable TV throughout the 8th district.

Their first ad, ‘Company Man‘, featuring respected union members pointing out that Cravaack sides with the mining companies and not workers, has proven highly effective.

Last Friday, the group launched its final salvo with Ponikvar starring in ads exposing Cravaack’s appalling record on the public health crises of autism and breast cancer. Ponikvar’s simple message “He seems to take care of himself, but not us” is sure to resonate with voters throughout the district who have watched Cravaack engage in a pathetic game of political dodge ball in recent weeks.

MN-08: A Packsacker And A Ranger Go Deer Hunting…

Deer hunting is a time honored tradition in northern Minnesota, and many look forward to gathering with friends and family at the hunting shack every fall. Former Congressman Rick Nolan (a native of the Cuyuna Iron Range), took time off from the campaign trail this weekend, explaining he’s never missed a deer opener. Much like a fourth-grader with a broken leg who doesn’t want to be left behind when the rest of the class heads out for dodge ball, Rep. Chip Cravaack (a packsacker who’s primary residence is in New Hampshire) cried ‘me too’ and limped along on his own, seemingly unaware of how the game is played. Pictures speak a thousand words….

A Ranger preparing for deer hunting

A Packsacker preparing for deer hunting

A Packsacker on the opening day of deer season

A Ranger on the opening day of deer season

MN-08: Chip Cravaack, Paul Ryan Refused To Co Sponsor Autism, Breast Cancer Acts

It seems Tea Party Congressmen Chip Cravaack and Paul Ryan have more in common than the Ryan budget and working out in the same gym: both have refused to co sponsor key pieces of legislation designed to address the epidemics of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Breast Cancer.

Autism and Breast Cancer have been declared public health crises affecting millions of American families every year. Rates for both are quite high: an estimated 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and 1 in 8 American women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

Two major pieces of legislation designed to address the epidemics of breast cancer and autism were proposed during the 112th Congress. Both garnered bi partisan support:

235 Representatives co-sponsored H.R. 3067, the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act of 2011.

100 Representatives co- sponsored H.R. 2005, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011.

But not Chip Cravaack and Paul Ryan.

It’s particularly troublesome that Chip Cravaack did not co sponsor H.R. 2005. As the parent of a child with an ASD, he should have been front and center promoting that important initiative as well as other legislation benefiting those battling the disorder. Yet Cravaack remained silent about autism until it benefited him to do so. He didn’t even bother to join the Congressional Autism Caucus. Indeed, Chip Cravaack was willing enough to talk about his child’s autism to help him get re elected, but he wasn’t willing to help children with autism in Congress.

Cravaack’s disgraceful record on autism and breast cancer has not gone unnoticed by constituents. Regular Folks On The Iron Range on Friday launched two new cable TV ads pointing to his abysmal record on these important issues:

MN-08: Who’s Kidding Who Chip? You Don’t Care About Duluth!

Chip, you sure talk a good game about supporting Duluth, but your dismal record says otherwise. You care about Duluth? Who’s Kidding Who, Chip?

You refused to open an office or even hold a town meeting in Duluth until you were publicly shamed to do so.

So much for constituent service.

You opposed investing $20 million of Federal Stimulus in a new airport terminal to keep Duluth competitive in the aviation market

It’s being built in spite of you.

You opposed investing $16 million in Federal Stimulus funds for Duluth’s Intermodal Center— a project that creates construction jobs and will make Duluth a model transportation center.

Thanks Chip.

You opposed a $6 million investment in stormwater/wastewater overflow holding facilities that created construction jobs, and protected Lake Superior during this summer’s huge storm.

Thanks Again Chip.

You tried to undermine the rescue of Cirrus Aviation by a Chinese investor, then wouldn’t tell the public that the U.S. Treasury found no fault, no risk to national or economic security from the transaction, which has saved aircraft production jobs in Duluth.

Cirrus survived, no thanks to you.

Chip, it’s time to stop kidding around and tell the people of Duluth exactly what you think of them. Who’s Kidding Who Chip? You don’t care about Duluth!

MN-08: Home Sweet Where? (Seriously, If You Think Chip Cravaack Lives Here, Read This!)

In northern Minnesota, where one is from and where one has roots is of great importance to voters, and residency has figured prominently in the race for 8th district congress. While the only constitutional requirement of a U.S. Representative is that one “shall be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen”, there is an expectation by 8th district residents that their congressman actually live in the district. A recent examination of property records shows that Cravaack is claiming a homestead in two different states, leaving residents wondering exactly where their congressman lives. Thus in the closing days of this nationally watched race, the question of whether or not Rep. Chip Cravaack lives in the district and meets the residency requirements of the State of Minnesota still remains unanswered.

Chip Cravaack will make the argument that these are last minute attacks. They’re not. In fact, This residency issue has been plaguing Chip Cravaack for almost two years, and for almost two years he has been dismissing it as irrelevant, an odd assertion from one who created the issue during his 2010 campaign when he falsely accused Rep Jim Oberstar of not living here. Even at this late date in the campaign, those concerned about the residency issue should examine the facts and make their decision accordingly.The record tells us the following:

1. Cravaack owned a home in Lindstrom and a residential lake property in Wisconsin at the time he was elected to Congress in 2010.

2. In July 2011, Cravaack purchased a home in New Hampshire, sold the home in Lindstrom and purchased a new home in North Branch.

3. The mortgage for the home in North Branch contains a rider declaring this property as a second home. His primary home then, is in New Hampshire, where his family now resides.

4. Property tax records reveal that this ‘second home’ in North Branch is classified as 1A Residential Homestead.

5. All property is co-owned by Cravaack and his wife.

The record shows that Cravaack is now claiming two homesteads.

We’ll leave it to the lawyers to determine the technicalities of the voting and tax issues. However, Minnesota statutes do provide some guidance regarding determination of residency for voting, homestead and income tax purposes.

Readers are encouraged to pay specific attention to to the following clauses for determining residency for voting:

(d) if an individual goes into another state or precinct with the intention of making it home or files an affidavit of residence there for election purposes, the individual loses residence in the former precinct; and

(g) if an individual’s family lives in one precinct and the individual lives or does business in another, the individual’s residence is located in the precinct where the individual’s family lives, unless the individual establishes a home in the other precinct and intends to remain there, with or without the individual’s family

and for Homestead eligibility

(a) Residential real estate that is occupied and used for the purposes of a homestead by its owner, who must be a Minnesota resident, is a residential homestead…..Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the Department of Revenue may, upon request from an assessor, verify whether an individual who is requesting or receiving homestead classification has filed a Minnesota income tax return as a resident for the most recent taxable year for which the information is available.

Minnesota Department of Revenue guidelines for determining residency include this statement:

When it comes to determining residency, your words and actions are both considered, but of the two, your actions carry more weight than words.

That Cravaack apparently doesn’t see a problem with his contradictory statements about where he lives should come as no surprise. Air line pilots are notorious for having a rather cavalier attitude towards residency which at times gets them into trouble. The feeling that you live wherever you happen to land at the time may work for them because passengers don’t care where their pilot lives. But this doesn’t work in politics because constituents in the 8th district of Minnesota do care where their congressman lives, and they expect their congressman to live in the district. Residency is a matter of real concern to his constituents whether Cravaack wants to recognize it or not. The fact that he doesn’t seem to get it now indicates he doesn’t understand the district, yet he certainly got it well enough when he relentlessly lobbed false accusations at Chisholm native Jim Oberstar.

How convenient.

Chip Cravaack’s pompous, self righteous indignation over the residency issue exists only because those very same questions are now directed at him. It is the very definition of hypocrisy. Cravaack needs to stop shedding crocodile tears and give his constituents the honest answers they deserve.

The intricacies of residency requirements for voting, taxes and eligibility to run for office are issues for attorneys to argue over. This is not about technicalities of the law. We’re just interested in what’s right and what’s wrong, and it seems wrong that Chip Cravaack is able to claim a homestead in Minnesota while also claiming a primary residence in New Hampshire (a state that has no income tax).

Readers are encouraged to review the record, read the statutes and come to their own conclusions.

MN-08: Chip Cravaack’s False and Misleading Ad Reflects A Bad Case Of Steelworker Envy

Rep Chip Cravaack lost the coveted United Steelworkers endorsement to former Congressman Rick Nolan last month, prompting a whiny temper tantrum that echoed across the Iron Range. Cravaack’s jealousy over Nolan’s big endorsement has now morphed into a serious case of steelworker envy with the airing of a desperately deceptive mining ad purporting to be filmed on the Iron Range.

The ad titled “Good Man” features two Iron Rangers discussing mining and Cravaack visiting with workers. The release that accompanied the ad reads:

A strong and vibrant mining industry is key to creating good-paying jobs for Minnesota workers and their families…. I am thankful for the support of so many former and current miners throughout this far-reaching district,” said Chip Cravaack

To say this ad offers no credible evidence of support from Iron Range steelworkers is an understatement. Consider the following:

1. It was shot at the Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Facility in Hinckley, not at a mine on the Iron Range

2. The retired miner is not a member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), and the active miner is viewed as a renegade who once tried to sue the USW for not advocating enough for workers, and reportedly threatened to run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

3. Cravaack is shown with 49ers, not steelworkers

Talk about compensating for one’s shortcomings!

Cravaack is trying to parlay a very misguided endorsement from the 49ers into an implied endorsement from SOAR and USW, both of which have endorsed Nolan. And how arrogantly insulting that Cravaack thinks Rangers won’t notice. Packsacker Chip Cravaack may not know the difference between steelworkers and 49ers, or between Hibbing and Hinckley, but Rangers sure do.

This deliberately misleading ad is devoid of all credibility and is just the latest of many desperate attempts by Cravaack to deceive voters into believing he has support of Range steelworkers.

Only an outsider or one truly clueless would think this ad is going to be effective with its target audience. Insulting the intelligence of voters from across the Iron Range is not a winning strategy, something Chip Cravaack would know if he were actually a Minnesotan.

MN-08: Cravaack Campaign Crying Crocodile Tears Over Nolan Ads

“He doesn’t even live here”

Former Congressman Rick Nolan and an Iron Range steelworker uttered those simple words about Chip Cravaack in recent tv ads and in doing so triggered what can only be described as a tantrum en masse from supporters of Cravaack. And the Cravaack campaign immediately began whining about that statement being “an outright lie”, firing off indignant letters to media outlets demanding the ads be pulled.

Their indignation absolutely reeks of crocodile tears.

Two years ago, that very same statement was not only directed at Rep Jim Oberstar, but was a central theme in Chip Cravaack’s campaign against the Iron Range native. And Chip even argued the test of where one lives is where their kids go to school. Here’s Chip in an interview making those points:

And unlike Nolan and the steelworker, Cravaack didn’t stop there. In this interview, Chip goes after Oberstar’s family, makes some pretty strong allegations about the Range native’s ties to the district, and argues that just because Oberstar owns a home in Chisholm that doesn’t mean he lives here:

Well isn’t that special?

And it gets better. In an October 23 2012 interview with the Brainerd Dispatch, Cravaack is STILL making that claim, this time in a rather bizarre defense to Range native Nolan’s emphasis of his 4th generation roots in the district:

Cravaack rejected the contention of his opponent, Rick Nolan, that the DFLer has a better perspective to represent the district because he’s lived here longer and because Cravaack’s family moved to another state for reasons related to his wife’s profession and other family concerns. “It’s a hollow argument that doesn’t resonate,” he said of Nolan’s statement. “Jim Oberstar lived out of the district for decades. I’m taking care of my family.”


Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Chip Cravaack and his campaign are truly delusional if they think they can sneak this one by voters in northern Minnesota. Even MPR predicted this issue would come back to haunt him after moving his family to New Hampshire:

As someone who ran accusing Democrat Jim Oberstar of being out of touch with the 8th District, it’s probably fair to assume the Democrats who want to run against him in 2012 may have a few things to say about the New Hampshire homestead.

Your crocodile tears are fooling no one, Chip.

It’s over. Go home to New Hampshire. Go.

The Nolan Campaign ad can be viewed here

The DFL ad can be viewed here

MN-08: Why Is Chip Cravaack Hiding Behind The Skirts Of A Campaign Organizer?

Rep Chip Cravaack regularly touts his background as a naval officer, and his speech is rife with references to the military and ‘dereliction of duty.’ One would expect then, that faced with evidence of misconduct by those under his command, Cravaack would deal with the problem head on. But rather than facing up to the decidedly uncivil, undemocratic and perhaps even criminal behavior of those working on his campaign, Cravaack is instead choosing to hide behind the skirts of a woman who organized a campaign event for him in Baxter last Saturday.

That campaign event was advertised in the Brainerd Dispatch as an opportunity for the public to meet Rep. Cravaack. But when one young woman arrived and identified herself as an employee of the DFL, she was told it was a private event. Organizers immediately ordered her to leave even though she is a constituent of Cravaack’s and threatened to call the police if she didn’t comply. And another woman, a constituent from Milaca, was physically assaulted by a male campaign worker after taking a picture and was likewise thrown out of the public event. On Monday afternoon, we reported that an assault complaint was filed with the Brainerd Police Department in connection with that incident.

In response to our interview with her on Monday afternoon, event organizer Page Wigren issued a formal statement after first contacting the Cravaack campaign. This statement appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the Duluth News Tribune :

As we were preparing for Congressman Cravaack to arrive at an event I organized in Brainerd, an attendee acted inappropriately when he forcibly removed the DFL tracker who came to tape record the event. This type of behavior is never acceptable, and I feel terrible that something like this would occur. I strongly disapprove of the attendee’s actions, and I apologize for his lack of civility and respect to all those who came to meet with our candidates.

Note that the two women and two separate incidents are now combined into one person and one incident, and the male event organizer who assaulted the Milaca woman is now identified as merely an attendee.

The video record of the event does not support this statement issued by Wigren on behalf of the Cravaack campaign.

This video clearly shows event organizers telling the tracker to leave and is consistent with statements Wigren made during our interview:

It is obvious from this video that it was a second woman, not the DFL tracker, who was assaulted and identifies the perpetrator as one of the organizers in the first video:

In our interview with Wigren, she was very clear about the two incidents. She did not at any time refer to the young woman as a ‘tracker’, nor did she deny that the event organizers involved have a role in Cravaack’s campaign. She did decline to make specific comments about why these women were asked to leave, and initially offered a contact for the campaign. But Wigren quickly decided she “shouldn’t give out that information” and instead opted to contact the campaign herself. She did call back with a prepared statement after talking with them. When asked if a campaign staffer wrote the statement for her, Wigren responded ‘no comment’.

Even the most casual observer can see what’s happening here. The Cravaack campaign is once again running away from an unpleasant reality by clouding the issue instead of addressing the serious problem of physical aggression by campaign workers and staffers in what has become a systemic effort to prevent constituents not identified as supporters from attending public meetings. The second video shows that Wigren did intervene to stop the assault on the Milaca woman, and the Cravaack campaign is shamelessly trying to bury their lie in the truth of her genuine concern about that outrageous use of force.

It is Chip Cravack who has fostered a bunker mentality that causes his staffers and supporters to behave like thugs, and it is Chip Cravaack who should shoulder the full responsibility for their actions. Hiding behind the skirts of a female campaign worker is not only cowardly, but a dereliction of duty.

MN-08: Assault Complaint Filed Against Cravaack Campaign Worker

At least one 8th district resident has had enough of the strong arm tactics employed by Rep. Chip Cravaack’s staffers and supporters, and has filed an assault complaint against one of those working on the Cravaack for Congress campaign.

The assault complaint stems from an incident that occurred at an advertised meet the candidate meeting in Baxter on 20 September. A woman from Milaca was inexplicably roughed up by a campaign worker for taking a picture at the public event:

The Baxter Police Department confirms that a basic incident report titled as assault has been sent to the city attorney for review. No arrests were made and statements were taken from both parties. It is now up to the city attorney to decide whether or not to file misdemeanor assault charges in the case. Prosecutor Matt Mallie was unavailable for comment at the time of this story.

DFL Chair Ken Martin blasted the Cravaack Campaign for their actions:

It is never, ever acceptable to use physical force to prevent someone from attending a public event. The actions of Congressman Cravaack’s campaign were dangerous and wildly inappropriate. Congressman Cravaack should immediately issue an apology to the constituent his event organizer assaulted and instruct his campaign’s staff on how to treat event attendees with respect.

What does Congressman Cravaack have to hide? He brags about his constituent services and accessibility, but he goes to great lengths to make sure his supporters are the only ones who can hear what he has to say. Now we can see his supporters are even willing to use physical force to intimidate those who may disagree with him. This is simply beyond the pale. Congressman Cravaack was elected to represent all of the Eighth District, not just the people who are voting for him, and the use of physical force to prevent people from attending his public events is wrong on every level.

This troubling incident comes a little more than one month after a 22 year old Bemidji State University student reported being manhandled by Cravaack staffers at an event in Hackensack. Congressman Cravaack, who personally witnessed that assault and ignored the young man’s pleas for help, had no comment after that episode.

The Cravaack campaign did not return calls requesting comment about the assault complaint against one of its workers.