It’s more than partisan at the Capitol. It’s personal

It’s not particularly difficult to see why so many legislators have called it quits at the Minnesota Capitol this session, often citing the changing atmosphere of partisanship there.

But an exchange between two Republican House members yesterday also underscores the bitter personal animosity even among members of the same party.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer sent a scathing post-session e-mail to her supporters.


Usually bills get better when they come back from a conference committee.

This time, it got worse. Additional pork for St. Paul and Minneapolis was added, a shocking data privacy for the Vikings was included, the funding mechanism of the pull tabs continued, the percentage to charity got smaller, no user fees included and the general fund continues to be at risk of bailing out this project in the future. In addition, the “new” $50 million the team is “adding” to their portion is offset by the team getting the naming rights instead of the state. The Wilf family also got back in their exclusive rights to a Soccer team for the next five years or so. Quite an amazing package for the owners.

I realized that this was a set deal between the Vikings, the Governor and the bill authors and that no matter the amendments or arguments, it would get done. They had enough votes to force it through. The City Council of Minneapolis has the last vote after the Governor signs the bill.

That irked retiring Rep. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove, one of the authors of the Vikings stadium bill.


Force it through? C’mon Mary. You can disagree with the bill but don’t lie about it.

At which point, Kiffmeyer didn’t hold back…


Not only no clue but no courage to run again and be accountable and see what your district thinks.

Kriesel, who is set to become the head of veterans services in Anoka County, was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star in the Minnesota National Guard, for whom he sacrificed both legs in Iraq in December 2006.

  • Greg Hansen

    I’m glad I had the “courage” to move out of Rep. Kiffmeyer’s district last fall. A former Secretary of State has the nerve to criticize the democratic process? She has revealed herself as a political thug and a party hack.

  • Jim Shapiro

    While I’m not exactly a big fan of that illegal war that destroyed so many lives and our country’s reputation,

    to say that Kriesel lacks courage is the height of thoughtless absurdity.

    Unfortunately, the likely truth of Kiffmeyer’s statement about the stadium bill negotiations is overshadowed by her misdirected bile.

  • http://erikhare.wordpress.com/ Erik Hare

    Double down, double down –

    every challenge to your position, no matter how small, has to be met with a double down. It might mean a dagger thrown right at the heart in some personal comment (courage? really?) but it’s always doubled down, and doubled again.

    The stakes on absolutely everything become insanely high very quickly. No wonder we can’t deal with issues that are actually important to start with.

  • linda

    How enlightening to meet the REAL Mary Kiffmeyer. I couldn’t support her for dog catcher–I’m a member of the Humane society and she’s just plain too nasty. Everybody, take a close look at any thing she is supporting including voter ID

  • Ross Williams

    “Kriesel, who is set to become the head of veterans services in Anoka County, was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star ”

    Just so we are clear, none of these require personal bravery beyond service in the armed forces. If that was the reason for their relevance here.

  • TJSwift

    What I see in this is the ever increasing cost we’re paying for Zygi’s fleecing of the rubes. John acted poorly during debate, but Mary should know better than to make asinine statements.

  • TJSwift

    For Ross:

    “Any person whom while serving in any way in or with the United States military after 6 December 1941, that distinguished himself or herself apart from his or her comrades by brave or praiseworthy achievement or service, that did not include participation in aerial flight. The act justifying award of the medal must be performed while fighting an enemy of the United States, or while involved in conflict with an opposing/foreign force.”

    I’ve always believed it’s nice to know something about a topic before making foolish statements.

  • http://www.farces.com/ Michael Fraase

    My tolerance for Mary Kiffmeyer is less than zero, but she’s absolutely correct about the stadium bill coming out of conference committee significantly worse for taxpayers than it went in.

  • Bob Collins

    Yes, I’m suggesting that if you have the courage to face the insurgents of Iraq, the people of Cottage Grove probably don’t scare you.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Ross Williams and TJSwift – No one in their right mind would question that it took courage for Kriesel to overcome his wounds.

    And no one who knows anything about the military would deny that awards are sometimes given or omitted under debatable or arbitrary circumstances.

    The award states ” brave or praiseworthy achievement”. Is it brave or praiseworthy to survive getting your legs blown off? A strong argument could be made for yes.

    Is it an act of heroism to get blown up? Only if you saved somebody else in the process.

  • Bob Collins

    (Reopening comments now that I’m back to moderate them fulltime)

    The word that is at play here is “courage.” Not “bravery” or “heroism.”

    If you believe that Kriesel does not possess courage and has not satisfactorily demonstrated it, state your case.

    Keep in mind, though, this is the guy who stood up to his caucus last spring and eloquently spoke for the right of gay couples to marry.

  • Don Wicklander

    Hi, I am 78, a Korean War Vet who never went over to Korea. Had three older brothers in WW II. I don’t like it when people make all these comments about some words and seem to get all pushed out of shape -for what? When I read the the comments, the first pesonal slur seemed to come from Mr. Kriesel. Read an article about him. Very complimentary. If Mr Kriesel called me a ” liar ” , as he did, without stating what the lie was, I would be ticked off. I looked for some specifics, and there were none.. Would like to have him answer that question. Wouldn’t you? Do you want facts or all the usual , Oh you hurt my feelings, etc, ect. I don’t know Mary that well, but I sure related to what she said about all the under the table BS that goeson and is not even found out until after the fact. Look yourself in the mirror and try to be honest with who you are Not nice, but be true with your self. Peace to you.

  • Rich

    It’s more professional when folks “agree to disagree” and leave the personal sniping “behind closed doors.”

    My father used to say that “when you start pointing a finger, you have three fingers pointing back at you”.

    My dad was a smart guy.

  • jon

    It’s true though, it’s easier to vote for a vikings stadium when you don’t have to go up for a vote again.

    The polls showed (the ones that weren’t sponsored by the vikings and asking lopsided questions) that people wanted the stadium, but not under this financing scheme.

    The legislature was told the vikings wouldn’t take any other terms.

    Rock meet hard place.

    Now some of these people need to return to their districts, and explain why they voted how they did on the one vote all session that people cared about (strange that gay marriage and Voter ID, and all the other crap that got through the same congress didn’t solicit the same attention. Even though these things will likely say far more about our state for far longer then a sports team will.) Who gets re-elected is going to be decided by how they voted on the stadium.

  • Bob Collins

    // Who gets re-elected is going to be decided by how they voted on the stadium.

    I’m not convinced of that. There’s a two-year track record this Legislature has established on all sorts of issues and both caucuses are — somewhat — divided so I’m not sure the parties themselves are going to be running stadium-vote-related ads.

    I think the election will come down to what the election has come down to for the legislature for years — taxes, the economy, social issues.

    I think people are going to vote based on whether they want two more years of what they’ve had over the last two years or not.

  • Curt

    When Mary Kiffmeyer was a “representative” for the people of Bloomington she would not allow her contituents to talk to her about gay marriage. On an organized lobby day she sat in her office and refused to hear from people from her own district which she was elected to represent. Now, where was her courage? A true representative of the people will listen and discuss topics. She clearly lacked that skill and in her own words…

    “Not only no clue but no courage to run again and be accountable and see what your district thinks.”

  • melpamn

    I linked into this story after hearing that Mary stated a veteran “lacked courage.” When I read this story and in context, I don’t see it that way. Yes, she used poor word choice, and YES, i am a liberal who opposes much of anything that Mary votes on or supports, but I cannot find any true fault in her statement. He is not running again. Fact. So saying he lacked the courage to run is not attacking how courageous of a man he is in everything else, including his impressive, dangerous, and often thankless service to America. She never said he was a wimp or a coward for all he did on the battlefield. I am a strong woman and have little fear, but I lack courage when it comes to spiders. If someone pointed that out, it doesn’t diminish that I have immense courage in other aspects of my life. She is simply saying (not that I agree) it is easier for someone like him to vote how he did because he isn’t running again. While I personally don’t believe he decided to not run again because he lacks the courage to face his constituents, I have to say for all those taking this WAY OUT OF CONTEXT- chill out. She slammed him politically for not having what she viewed as “courage” to run for re-election. She did not attack him on a personal or professional manner regarding his service to the armed forces. I kind of wished she did, so i could call her out on being even more of an ass, but as much as this pains me…i cannot find fault with her statement, as it was meant to say.

  • Jim Bendtsen

    Kiffmeyer is correct and Kriesel is a fraud. Disregard the R next to his name because he’s a Democrat in Republican clothing. Kriesel would never get elected again as a Republican. Johnny boy said that the people need the stadium for entertainment because they have stressful lives. That is one of, if not the stupidest reasons given by anyone involved in the travesty of a giveaway to zygi and his thugs. Thank you Mary Kiffmeyer for calling out Kriesel. He’s been hiding behind his former soldier status as too many do.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Jim Bendtsen – I too think the stadium is a rich get richer scam.

    But Kriesel is right about the entertainment and stressful lives thing. Classic bread and circuses. (Look it up).

    Whether or not we agree with him that the stadium is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars is another question.

    And Kriesel hiding behind his former soldier status?!? He can’t hide for too long. He’s found every time he remembers where his legs used to be.

  • http://zaetsch.blogspot.com eric z

    Jim Bendtsen, hello from another north metro resident. I have a stressful life and I bet you do too, and Wilfare does not improve mine, one iota.

    Kiffmeyer’s original email was a fully correct analysis.

    Kriesel was unsuitably dismissive, in light of the truth as he has to have recognized, in his heart if not in his for-the-record email.

    Now, he leaves the legislature, to be given a job that has to pay at least $65,000 – perhaps up to $100,000, I cannot say how much because such public data is hard to find; but that’s starting low end at twice what the legislature paid him. He got a clear paycheck upgrade.

    Couple that: He voted along with the Governor, the Chamber of Commerce, and young Charlie Weaver’s business consortium of movers-shakers; all on the bandwagon all beating the drum. Young Mondale as drum major. Appearances remain as they are, whether Kriesel’s vote was one of conscience or calculation and convenience, something only Kriesel knows, and whichever it was, we know what a politician, (his post military career of choice), can be expected to say.

  • faith

    ironic 2 have sooo much sniping from lawmakers when ‘taunting’ isn’t even allowed in the NFL.

    And there are NO winners if NO role models remain from the debate. We may ask for future anti-bully legislation in response to suicides d/t intimidation tactics in our schools & colleges.

    How is this different from what we are asking our children NOT to do?? Voters may support ONLY those candidates who practice civility. Period.

  • http://zaetsch.blogspot.com eric z

    What MPR should focus upon – the number of other Republicans, like Kriesel, who are leaving the legislature and who went along to get along on the Zygi vote. None this fall facing an electorate, [Jungbauer however running for county commissioner being an exception], and we on the outside do not know what was deliberate judgment and what was compromise on the way out the door. With bonding the session before this one for a Northstar stop in Jungbauer’s district; then this session his vote on this stadium bonding, log rolling – horse trading may have been at play. Not that the press has asked that question, not that we’d have to believe an answer. Circumstantial evidence is sometimes good evidence, sometimes not.

  • Bob Collins

    Just some quick napkin calculations.

    Of 10 Republicans not running again in the Senate, 5 votes yes, 4 voted no, 1 chose not to be recorded one way or the other.

    In the House, Of 12 Republicans not returning (I don’t have an updated retirement list handy), 6 voted “yes” and 6 voted “no”

    Of those running for another office, 2 voted “yes” and 4 voted “no.”

    I don’t see any particular pattern there that leads to a conclusion I’d be comfortable making.

  • Gary Gringo

    Thank you T.J. for clarifying things for Ross. As a veteran myself, I was taken aback by his comments. but, we all served and sacrificed in one way or another to allow everyone to have and express their opinions. even the misinformed get to say whatever is on the top of their heads. . . In the words of our greatest Vikings coach ever, Denny Green (paraphrasing here) you can say whatever you want to say, but I dont have to listen to it. . . Freedom baby!!

  • Jim Shapiro

    Although in both the house and the senate, the majority of democrats voted yes and the majority of republicans voted no,

    this was the most non-party partisan vote in a long time.

    Too bad every issue can’t be as simple as whether tax payers should pay for a place where a billionaire can have his millionaires play, huh?