Fact Check: Seifert criticizes a fee he voted for

Republican Marty Seifert has been saying for months that Minnesota has a “jobs problem” and that he’s set to release a jobs package to spur economic growth. At forums and on his website, the candidate for governor discusses how fees and permits are hindering business creation and expansion in Minnesota. One example he uses is the license fee that the state charges liquor distilleries:

“We had a guy in Windom who wanted to open up a distillery business. The distillery license fee in Minnesota is $30,000. Thirty thousand dollars to open up a distillery. In 42 minutes to the south of Windom is the state of Iowa, it costs $350. Where do you think he took his business? Where do you think he took his jobs? He went to Iowa. We now know that there are three businesses like his in Iowa and one in Wisconsin. Those are jobs that we should have here.”


Seifert voted to double the distillery fee in 2005 in both the House version of the public safety finance bill and the final conference committee report. It increased the distillery fee from $15,000 to $30,000.

It can be sometimes difficult to gauge a candidate’s voting record on large budget bills because there are plenty of issues and moving parts in them. But Seifert, who was the GOP Majority Whip at the time, never proposed an amendment to reduce or eliminate the fee. In fact, no one proposed an amendment to reduce the size of the fees.

For the record, Seifert wasn’t the only candidate for governor to vote for the bill. Republican Tom Emmer and Democrats Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Matt Entenza and Paul Thissen voted for it in the House.

Republican David Hann and DFLer John Marty voted for it in the Senate.

DFL Sen. Tom Bakk and DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina voted against the bill.

  • Chris

    Tom, I’ve neglected to express this the last couple of times, but thank you for your work fact-checking politicians’ statements against their records, DFL, GOP, IP, all of them.

    I wish the national media would devote their attention to these kinds of efforts instead of meta-coverage about “candidate narratives.”

  • Tom Scheck

    Thanks, Chris. We’re hoping to do one a week but it will ebb and flow with the campaign/legislative session.

  • I am not being invited to certain gubernatorial candidate forums, even though I am a registered bona-fide Republican candidate, because they (Medtronics and others) say they are only inviting those who are in elected office, or have held elected office. Shouldn’t that be the criteria for dismissal rather than reward? Look at the financial mess our state is in and remember that Leslie Davis for Governor 2010 did not have anything to do with it. And further, Leslie Davis is the only candidate who knows how to solve our financial crisis with his money plan.


  • Silence Dogood

    I follow MN politics closely. My observation is that you neglect some important facts in this story:

    1) This was the Omnibus Crime bill, that was passed on the heels of Dru Sjodin’s murder. The “tough on crime” penalties were in this bill, coupled with many other pieces of

    bills, including jacking up the distiller’s fee. The bill passed 131-3 for goodness sakes.

    2) This was the year of the government shut-down. This bill had to pass to keep the prison’s open. You wonder why Seifert, Emmer, Kelliher, others didn’t amend the bill. Would you screw around with a bill if the grieving friends and family are sitting in the gallery waiting for a bill to pass that enhances criminal penalties for rapist/murder types? This bill passed literally with hours left at end of session and

    due to agreement to move it forward for the grieving family’s sake, lawmakers on both sides didn’t try to mess with it.

    3) It is my understanding that you did not bother contacting Seifert for a comment. I am still trying to verify this, but I was told by a volunteer that no attempt was made to get any

    input from his campaign staff or him to put this in context. I thought fair journalism was that you get both sides and then report. Somewhat like Fox News. Looks like a hatchet job to me.

    4) Bills jumbled with good and bad pass all the time. A 131-3 vote proves that it would have been silly to vote “no” based on a fee contained in the bill. My question is why did Rukavina vote against a bill to lock up the worst of the worst criminals for life?

    5) In looking at the past history, Seifert was very outspoken (that year especially) about the disgustingly high compensation for top executives that “non-profit” groups were giving out. One target: MPR and their CEO. Does that have anything to do with a story like this?

  • Tom Scheck

    I usually don’t reply to anonymous posters because I don’t think it’s worth my time when they can’t put their real name out there for the world to see. I always find it funny that people attack my credibility but do so anonymously. It shows what kind of person you are.

    In this instance, however, I’ll make an exception….

    First off, it’s laughable to suggest that I would go after Seifert because of his comments regarding MPR. I’m doing fact-checks on all of the candidates. I also work my butt off to make sure that I give every candidate a fair shake. If anyone suggests I pull punches, step to the line and say so. My name is out there and isn’t anonymous. Furthermore, I’m not too worried about criticism of me or my company. My work stands for itself.

    As far as the bill, never once did I mention that the Public Safety bill wasn’t worth voting for or important. What I am pointing out is that a candidate for governor is now complaining about a fee that he voted for. I was also careful to note that no one, including Seifert, tried to dump the fee during discussion. If it’s such a big issue why didn’t anyone, including Seifert, try to scrap it? That’s the funny thing about voting records. They’re black and white (or red and green in this case).

    Are you also telling me lawmakers rushed the bill through because grieving family members were in the gallery? That’s how folks wanted legislation to pass? I wish you weren’t anonymous so I can interview you for that story.

    And spare me the drama about “not trying to mess with the bill” in the final hours of session. The same language was in the House bill when it was first passed on April 28th. There were also several chances to amend it during the committee process. That didn’t happen.

    In terms of a comment from Seifert, why do I need to get it? He made the comment at several different forums on several different occassions and during a news conference. What else do I need to know except the campaign spin? The vote is plain and simple. The legislation is plain and simple. End of discussion.

    Furthermore, it’s unlikely that we’ll get comments from any of the candidates on these fact-checks. They make the comments in public places and we take a look at them. That’s the funny things about tape recorders and the internet. It’s like peanut butter and jelly.

    As far as the hatchet job comment. It’s only a hatchet job when the facts aren’t right and you ain’t quibbling with the facts. You’re complaining about everything else.

    You’ll need to work a little harder next time you want to attack my credibility. And thanks for following MN Politics so closely.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Silence Dogood

    One of the joys of anonymity is that I will not have to be pestered by you for an interview. Aren’t members of the press the same individuals who jealously guard their right to keep sources anonymous? Why should I not be afforded the same right? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

    As I said, I follow Minnesota politics closely and, although I’m not affiliated with any campaign, I am following the campaigns of every candidate very closely, as should every concerned citizen. That’s how I can recognize a hatchet job when I see it.

    The 2010 election is going to be very important to every person in this state and every single Minnesotan deserves to be presented with unbiased facts in a fair context that reflects the circumstances in which those facts developed. In short, while voting records are indeed black and white, the circumstances surrounding each candidate’s voting record most likely is not. If you want to start parsing voting records then you owe a duty to each candidate to present their respective voting records in a fair and accurate context, the context in which the vote took place. The real world is far from being like “peanuty butter and jelly” and politics even more so.

    Based on my observations, Seifert has always been a stand-up guy and it is clear that you are stretching his voting record by taking a fee that was mixed in with penalties for hardened criminals and making political hay of it in an effort to come up with a story.

    People will and should conclude whatever they want, based on all of the facts available to them, but I thought that your story, whether intentionally slanted or slanted in effect, needed to be balanced with the counterweight of truth.

  • Tom Scheck

    For the record, I didn’t single out Seifert’s voting record, he did when he made it a regular part of his stump speech. If/when other candidates raise an issue that contradicts past votes/statements, you bet we’ll analyze it and critique it. It’s funny how you are no longer quibbling with the facts but with everything else. That’s standard smokescreen 101 from any political campaign.

    Your right Seifert is a stand up guy but that doesn’t change the fact that he canpaigned against something he voted for. Plain and simple.

    As far as your right to be anonymous, that’s fine with me. Your comments will just be interpreted as cowardly since you can’t put your name by your tough talk. I’m done with you until you either put your name out there or tell me my facts are wrong. Things you haven’t been able to do yet.