GOP Candidate Says Attack Ads Are for the Birds
Minnesota GOP Senate candidate Connie Doepke says jobs, the economy and education reform are the most important issues she's focused on.
As she fights to win a GOP primary battle against Republican-endorsed candidate David Osmek, Doepke also faces a foe of a different feather. The conservative Freedom Club State PAC is flooding her district with direct mail attack ads. They include clever lines like, "Connie Doepke's wasteful spending has caused quite a flap." That's a reference to a vote cast by Doepke in the 2010 legislative session as a member of the Minnesota House.
Doepke and a dozen other GOP House members voted in favor of an environmental bill that included a tiny provision to allow some money to be spent on "programs for the purpose of developing, preserving, restoring and maintaining wintering habitat for neotropical migrant birds in Latin America and the Caribbean..." Doepke says it amounts to $10,000 that would come from taxpayers who voluntarily "check-off" a "non-game wildlife" donation line on their tax forms. It would not come from general taxpayer funds.
Doepke says she was stunned when the flyers started arriving in her mailbox claiming she'd voted "to waste millions of Minnesota taxpayers' dollars.". At first, she had no idea what they were even talking about. The flyers cite the 2010 House Journal as the source. She had to go to page 12,973 to find the provision in an environmental bill. It's just eight lines and $10,000 of a 115-page bill involving millions of dollars. Still, she's keeping her sense of humor when voters call her about it. "It must be really important to the Freedom Club," she says with a laugh. "I'm sorry I'm laughing about it, but it's really kind of silly."
We contacted the treasurer for the Freedom Club State PAC, Richard Andolshek of Minneapolis. He declined to say why they've targeted Doepke or how much they've spent on the ad campaign. Campaign finance records show the Freedom Club PAC had $321,551 cash-on-hand as of July 10. "It's the policy and position of the Freedom Club not to speak about any specific races or candidates," Andolshek told me by phone. But they're certainly saying plenty about Doepke in their mailings. However, Andolshek made a surprising admission about the mailings that went out last week regarding the "tropical bird habitats." He says he doesn't know anything about the issue. "I'll be perfectly frank with you," he said Monday afternoon. "I'm not familiar with the bird habitats."