counter statistics

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Juhnke Entenza

House minority leader Matt Entenza is in the news - not in the way he'd like to be. According to Michael Brodkorb, Rep. Al Juhnke sent this City Pages article out to a DFL activist list.

Entenza's embrace of other elements of campaign finance reform has not been so steadfast. At the onset of the 2005 legislative session, when he and Quam were under fire for their $600,000 in donations, Entenza asked Schultz to draft what Schultz would later refer to as "my dream bill." The professor responded with eight suggested changes to Minnesota campaign finance law, such as placing a $1,000 cap on contributions and creating a more rapid and transparent process for disclosing donations.

Then the gamesmanship began at the Capitol, but it was not Entenza leading the dealing. Staunch Republican Rep. Tom Emmer carried Schultz's dream bill and got it passed through the House Civil Law and Elections Committee—"the first time campaign finance reform has passed a [Minnesota] House or Senate committee in 10 years," Schultz claims. It so happens that the chair of that committee is Rep. Jeff Johnson (R-Plymouth), who is almost certain to be Entenza's opponent in the race for attorney general this November. But a campaign of opposition from the anti-abortion group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life effectively killed it in the House. Nor was the DFL majority inclined to take it up in the Senate.

Schultz says that after the bill passed Johnson's committee, he went to Entenza and asked the minority leader if he could rally his caucus to support the legislation. "I said, 'This is essentially the bill you asked me to draft,'" Schultz recalls. "'It needs help. Could you get your caucus together and get the votes for it?' It was a quick, 10-minute conversation. He said he'd think about it and then he never got back to me. I thought there would be enough Republicans to pass the bill if the Democrats signed on and Matt put the pressure on to support it. [But] it seems to be the case that he ceased interest.

"I still think that, once you get beyond the leadership, there's a majority of legislators to support the bill. But because of the way soft money goes into the caucuses, it goes to the leadership, and they can spread it around. That gives them a tremendous amount of power. If you take away that soft money, you take away a lot of [Legislative leaders'] control. I think that is one of the reasons Matt didn't want to get back to me. I think the Republican leadership felt the same way."

"I am the minority leader, which means I am not in the majority," Entenza replies, with a hint of exasperation. "I never got a chance to vote on it in the House because the MCCL killed it. I have a zero percent voting record with the MCCL. My opponent, Jeff Johnson, is in the majority and is supported by the MCCL, so maybe he should be asked why the bill wasn't brought up for a vote." Regarding Schultz, Entenza added, "I am a supporter of what David does. I'm sure David and other advocates are frustrated by our inability to pass a good campaign reform bill. They should be frustrated."

Did Entenza cut a deal with the MCCL to keep this bill from seeing the light of day?