Minneapolis councilwoman releases names & contact information of constituents who disagreed

Elected officials are frequently contacted by constituents who agree or disagree with them on issues.  This is totally normal, expected and healthy.  Frankly, I wish I was contacted more by constituents, even those who disagree, because at least that would mean that people were paying attention!

Anyway, when a constituent contacts an elected official, it is totally reasonable to expect a response from that official, with the elected in question explaining their position.  What should never be expected, of course, is that the elected official releases the private correspondence from a constituent – along with that constituents name and contact information.

Yet, in Minneapolis, that is exactly what happened.

Council member Alondra Cano appeared at a Black Lives Matter rally last week.  Stephen Dent, a previous supporter of Councilwoman Cano, wrote to the Councilwoman to complain, saying that she was unfit to serve office because of her attendance at the rally.  Cano then tweeted out the letter that Dent wrote, along with his name and contact information.  The councilwoman did the same to others – here’s an example:

Dent, understandably, was less than pleased, as are others.  For her part, Councilwoman Cano has not responded to inquiries from the media about the issue.

 

It is important to note that what Councilwoman Cano did is not illegal.  State open records laws do not prohibit the releasing of personal information or constituent correspondence.  That being said, this is insane.  Unquestionably, some of the Emails that the Councilwoman chose to publicize is disgusting and a poor example of how to influence an elected official.  That being said, like it or not, people have a right to (within broad limits) say whatever they want to an elected official.  It is inappropriate for an elected official to release contact information of people who contact them. This can easily be interpreted as an attempt to intimate and silence constituents who disagree, even if that wasn’t the intent.

 

Tweets and Consequences

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Minnesota GOP group tweets about #Negroproblem

Well, that’s one of the worst possible hashtags that any political group could use.

The background: Minnesota, like numerous other cities, is in the midst of heavy backlash as a result of the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark by police officers.  In the aftermath of the shooting, there have been a series of protests outside of the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis.

So, in the middle of this, the following was tweeted out by the Seventh Congressional District Republicans, a GOP group in Minnesota:

NegroProblem

Yeah…no.  Just no.  Talk about a terrible idea!!

For obvious reasons, local Democrats attacked the tweet, with Ken Martin, head of the Minnesota DFL Party, saying in a statement:

“There is absolutely no place for this kind of ugly language in our state. We call on Chairman Downey to apologize to the people of Minnesota for the racist and bigoted comment.”

To his credit, the head of the Minnesota Republican Party, Keith Downey, tweeted this:

An important point about this apology:  There is no, “Apologies to all offended.”  I hate that line, because it’s a wink and a nod:  “Oh, you weren’t offended?  Well, in that case, no apology, let’s high five!”  This is just a straight up, “Apologies.  We were wrong.”

Anyway, this entire issue shows the importance of training for anyone tweeting in the name of you or your brand.  Yes, these were volunteers who were working for free.  However, they were tweeting in the name of the Republican Party, and as a result of their bad taste and stupidity, the local Republicans have seen their brand damaged.  It is critically important that you train anyone tweeting in the name of you or your company in order to avoid a scandal like this.  That’s challenge is multiplied when you are dealing with volunteers, but it’s still vitally necessary, a lesson that the Minnesota GOP found out the hard way.

Tweets and Consequences

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County GOP Chair in Minnesota: “Muslims are terrorists. They don’t belong in this country.”

File this one under C for Crazy.

The Chair of the Big Stone County GOP in Minnesota is Jack Whitley.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Whitley isn’t the Chair for long, after going on the Facebook screed below:

Big Stone County Republican ChairOh dear.

By the way, that wasn’t the only example of Mr. Whitley’s particular brand of crazy.  Other examples can be found on the Bluestem Prairie, which first captured the story.  Here’s another winner:

Jack Whitley Hates Muslims

Unsurprisingly, the remarks were condemned by the Chair of the Minnesota State GOP, Keith Downey:

I condemn the outrageous comments posted on Mr. Whitley’s Facebook page.  They could not be further from the Republican Party’s beliefs, nor more contrary to the efforts we have undertaken to include Muslim Americans, and every American, in our Party.

Now, the standard question: Did Mr. Whitley apologize, or do the double down?

The double down.  After the initial controversy, he wrote:

I will not apologize and I will not compromise. They either need to repent except [sic] Jesus Chist [sic] or leave the country … If you want to consider this a call to arms, then so be it.

In an interview with the Minnesota StarTribune, Whitley added that, ”

“I have no desire to hold hands and play pattycake with these people.  It’s pointless. They don’t understand peace…They understand one thing, and that’s aggressive force.”

However, it has since been noted by Bluestream Prairie that Whitley deleted his profile.  I went looking and couldn’t find it either, so that would certainly seem to be the case.  So, Mr. Whitley is clearly very brave…until the heat gets to hot to handle.  What a surprise.

This guy is a winner.

Minnesota Republican official uses the suicide of Robin Williams to promote candidate for Governor

Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before some political figure did something stupid on social media in relation to the tragic suicide of Robin Williams.

Chris Fields is the Deputy Chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party.  He previously ran for Congress against Democrat Keith Ellison, a race Ellison won with 74% of the vote.

In the aftermath of Williams’ suicide, Ellen Anderson, an employee of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, sent out this tweet:

To which, astoundingly, Fields responded with this (now deleted) tweet:

.@ellencanderson how very 80’s. Want an economy like we had in 80’s under Reagan…Vote @Jeff4Gov tomorrow in the primary

Yes, that’s right, Fields used the death of Robin Williams to promote the Republican-endorsed candidate for Governor, Jeff Johnson.  Somehow, I don’t think this is the kind of campaigning that Johnson is looking for, but more on that later.

Naturally, Twitter blew up attacking Fields, who proceed to respond to his critics.  At least one State Representative, Carly Melin, opened up on Fields:

Fields responded to this tweet with more politics:

.@carlymelin Really?? You gripe they don’t pay their fair share and then ur somehow adversely affected by their passing? @ellencanderson

And then he kept going.  Additional tweets included, but are not limited to, the following:

  • .@Salencita I’m more concerned abt kids that don’t have a future than abt ur pretend grief for someone u didn’t know @ellencanderson #mndfl
  • .@DJDanielson @ellencanderson Yes! Bcuz real ppl who dont have millions are crushed by the policies of guilt ridden celebrity above all libs
  • .@JonHoffmannMN Bcuz ppl who place celebrity above all don’t want their world interrupted by the fact that they actually hurt real ppl?
  • It’s curious to me why ppl mourn the loss of celebrities but ignore the misery everyday ppl live with as policies crush hope and opportunity

As I said above, Fields has since deleted all of his tweets, but they were captured by multiple media sources.

As usual, it should come as no surprise that Chris Fields seems to regularly invite controversy.  As noted by Raw Story, Fields had repeatedly engendered controversy.  Examples include:

  • When the Chisago County Republican Party made a Facebook post comparing abortion to slavery, and he refused to condemn it (an incident which I previously covered on this blog).
  • When he implied that hip hop music was at least partially responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin.

By the way, Jeff Johnson unequestionably condemned Fields’ tweets:

I’d give you the lesson here, but really, no sane person would have a problem figuring it out.  Fields’ use of the suicide of a beloved actor to make a political point is beyond reprehensible.  Some things shouldn’t be politicized.  Can’t this be one of them?

Oh, and when you screw up, as Fields clearly did here, apologize, and don’t dig deeper.  This won’t be forgotten.

Minnesota State Representative apologies for racist tweet about the NBA

On Monday, I wrote about Minnesota State Representative Pat Garofalo, who tweeted that the NBA could fold and most people wouldn’t even notice, except for the “increase in streetcrime.”  Ignoring the obvious racial undertones of such a silly tweet, Garofalo said that he was simply talking about “the NBA’s high arrest rate” and the NBA’s supposed “weaker” punishment for positive drug tests than other sports leagues.  He had “no intent” to make any comparison that went beyond those lines.
After nearly 2,000 retweets and over 575 favorites, Garofalo learned the hard way that other people were clearly offended by his tweet, and he apologized:
“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had the opportunity to re-learn one of life’s lessons: whenever any of us are offering opinions, it is best to refer to people as individuals as opposed to groups. Last night, I publicly commented on the NBA and I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized. The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize. In addition, it’s been brought to my attention that I was mistaken and the NBA policy on drug enforcement is stronger than I previously believed. Again, I offer my sincere apologies for my comments,” stated Rep. Garofalo.
On the plus side, Garofalo admitted that he was wrong in what he said and how he said it, and that he originally had the wrong facts.  That’s good.  What’s bad: at no point did Garofalo disavow the racial innuendo of his remarks.  He never said “I never had any intention of making a comment that was perceived as racist and I truly apologize for the any accidental racial underpinnings.”  By not doing so, Garofalo misses the biggest problem of his errand tweet: it was racist, whether that was intentional or not.  My honest opinion at this point is that Rep. Garofalo simply doesn’t get the biggest problem of his tweet–or, even worse–he gets it, and refuses to apologize for it because that was what he meant the whole time.
When you screw up and apologize, the apology should be comprehensive and complete.  Apologize for everything and take responsibility.  Rep. Garofalo only gets partial credit – he admits that he was wrong but doesn’t apologize for the biggest problem with his tweet.
One additional, interesting note: Garofalo didn’t delete the tweet.  It’s still there:
 I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing here.  Though incomplete, Garofalo did apologize for the tweet and it’s been up for two days.  Garofalo’s story has made national news, and deleting the tweet would accomplish nothing besides looking like a clumsy attempt to cover-up.

Congressional candidate photographed in compromising positions

There is a fantastic Onion news story: Report: Every 2040 Presidential Candidate Already Unelectable Due to Facebook.

Like the best Onion articles, this one is funny for its accuracy.  It’s also a premonition that is starting to come true: photographs have emerged of Stewart Mills, Republican Congressional Candidate in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, that are, shall we say, less than flattering.  Two pictures in particular jump out.  The first shows Mills hitting a beer bong:

I'm Stewart Mills and I approve this message?

I’m Stewart Mills and I approve this message?

And the second shows Mills licking the lips of a woman who is not his wife:

mills2

The pics were found on a publicly available Facebook page by the City Pages blog.  It notes that the pictures were found on  Mills’ wife’s Facebook page and uploaded in 2009, though they were deleted around the time Mills’ campaign began.

In a statement, Mills didn’t apologize for the pictures:

It’s no secret that in the past I’ve let my hair down to have fun with family and friends. My wife and I have had many lighthearted moments in our lives but right now I am focused on my Congressional campaign and the disastrous effects of our overreaching government and sky high unemployment in the north eastern Minnesota [sic].

Could just be me, but the non-apology nature of his statement, combined with his admission that he had previously “let his hair down” leads me to believe that we’ll be seeing more pictures shortly – and you can certainly bet that the incumbent Congressman, Rick Nolan, is looking for those pictures.

This is just another example of politicians getting caught on Facebook in compromising positions, and there will be plenty, plenty more to come as time goes on.  My personal belief?  At some point in the not so distant future, this country (or at least most of it) will hit a point where these pictures stop phasing people.  I cannot imagine that there are many in the United States who have never done something that would have preferred to have not been photographed, and the simple truth is that we are living in a digital, egotistical generation that seeks to record every moment.  As such, it’s only natural that these moments should arise.  I doubt that this will hit Mill’s campaign very hard – though embarrassing, there is no criminal behavior on display here.

However, Mill’s escapades prove a point, particularly for those who are just starting to enter the work force: for the love of God, be careful.  There are cameras everywhere now, and these pictures can and will come back to haunt you.

Lovely racist post featuring Michelle Obama

In a fanastically racist post, the Winona County (Minnesota) Republican Party shared this Facebook post:

WinonaCountyGOP

As this story notes, the Winona County party has decided to take their political views to whole new levels of controversy, with posts saying that gun control leads to genocide and comparing Nazism to liberalism.

Oh dear.

Not surprisingly, the Minnesota Democratic Party blasted the Winona GOP in a statement:

“Once again actions speak louder than words. While the Republican Party says it is welcoming to communities of color, a local unit, the Winona County Republicans, posted a racist and revolting image on its Facebook page. This comes only weeks after the Chisago County Republicans posted an offensive image on its Facebook page.

“The Winona County post shows First Lady Michelle Obama smiling broadly through a grill of gold teeth and President Barack Obama with no teeth at all. I am outraged by this stereotype of African Americans.

“As executive director of the Minnesota DFL, I challenge the Republican Party leadership to stop the ignorance and hatred and call on their members to treat not only our President and his family, but all people of color with the respect they deserve.”

The Chisago Facebook post referenced here was one a pro-choice/pro-marriage equality argument to slavery:

ChisagoGOP

At least the Chisago Party deleted the post and apologized:

ChisagoCountyMNGOP

No such apology, yet, from Winona, though the post was deleted.

This is normally when I talk about the “lesson,” so here’s the lesson: don’t put stupid racist things on Facebook.  Easy!