PoliGraph: Bachmann right on beer, wrong on bacon

Beer. Bacon. Corn dogs.

What sounds like the recipe for a great day at the Minnesota State Fair is also the subject of Michele Bachmann’s latest ad against her DFL opponent Tarryl Clark.

“While you’re at the fair, you should know that Tarryl Clark here voted to raise taxes on your corn dog, and your deep-fried bacon and your beer,” Jim the Election Guy, a fictional character featured in Bachmann’s ads, tells viewers. “So, if you see Tarryl Clark while you’re at the fair, just ask her: What’s up with voting to tax my beer?”

Here’s what’s up with that: When it comes to corn dogs and bacon, Bachmann’s claim is on shaky ground. But she’s right that Clark voted for higher taxes on beer.

The Evidence

Bachmann’s staff points to a handful of votes Clark cast during her time in the state senate as support for the claim.

Corn dogs and bacon

First, it’s important to note that Minnesota’s sales tax does not apply to food bought at the grocery store. But it does apply to food that is sold in restaurants or by other food vendors, including those at the state fair.

In 2008, Clark voted for a constitutional amendment that would have raised the sales tax by 3/8 of 1 percent to protect water and land – commonly known as the Legacy Amendment. After the Legislature passed it, voters approved the tax increase.

So, it’s wrong to say that Clark voted for the sales tax increase. Rather, she voted to let Minnesotans vote on the Legacy Amendment.

Bachmann’s campaign also points out that Clark voted twice in 2007 and 2008 respectively against amendments that would have allowed a referendum on a metro area sales tax increase meant to help pay for transportation improvements.

Bachmann reasons that, without the referendum, voters did not have the opportunity to stop the sales tax. But that’s a stretch: voting against a referendum is not the same as voting for a sales tax increase on corn dogs and bacon as the ad says.


In 2009, Clark voted several times to increase taxes on beer, wine and liquor. But the legislation was vetoed, so the beer sold at the state fair is not subject to a recent tax increase as the Bachmann ad implies.

The Verdict

It’s true that Clark voted for a sales tax increase on beer. But Bachmann’s ad is wrong when it comes to corn dogs and bacon: Clark never voted to increase taxes on either.


YouTube, “State Fair,” accessed Aug. 31, 2010

Minnesota Department of Revenue, Fact Sheet: Food and Food Ingredients, accessed Aug. 31, 2010

Michele Bachmann for Congress, Script and Fact Sheet, accessed Aug. 31, 2010

Tarryl Clark for Congress, Fact Check: Michele Bachmann Uses Voter-Approved Legacy Amendment to Attack Tarryl Clark, Aug. 31, 2010

Senate Journal, April 3, 2006, page 4525

Senate Journal, March 23, 2007, page 1267

Senate Journal, Feb. 21, 2008, page 6637

National Trust for Historic Preservation, Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, accessed Aug. 31, 2010

Senate Journal, May 8, 2009, page 4466

Senate Journal, April 24, 2009, page 2754

Interview, Zach Rodvold, campaign manager, Sen. Tarryl Clark, Aug. 31, 2010

Interview, Sergio Gor, spokesman, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Aug. 31, 2010


The Humphrey Institute

  • jfh

    Bachmann provides cover for those who need rationalizations beyond the simple, bald, “vote Democrats out” mantra.

    The voters need no reason beyond party affiliation. The DFL has already demonstrated its fealty to Dayton money, and the typical suspects have lined up behind it.

    Vote Democrats out. Period. Break the Monopolist’s power.

  • Bill Prendergast

    Out of all the Bachmann statements that haven’t been fact checked and you could have fact-checked, including

    …her claim that the president of the United States is “practicing tyranny”…

    …that the Obama and Dem administration are running a “gangster government” out of DC…

    …her public claims that she and her husband received prophetic visions and instructions from God re: political matters…

    …her claim that George W. Bush and GOP Congress oversaw changes in government that would lead to the end of the free enterprise system and a one-world Soviet style economy…

    …and much much more, ten years worth…

    …the Humphrey Institute and Minnesota Public Radio and you–decided that the most important thing to fact check about this hateful national demagogue was her claims about beer and hot dog taxes?

    I have to write this one up. People don’t believe me when I tell them how bad you guys on salary are; then I show them stuff like this piece you posted as “fact checking” and they believe me. You’re awful, just awful on this story–God knows how awful you are on all the other stories; this is the only one I’ve been following regularly.

  • Karl

    In 2008, 6th Congressional votes looked like this:

    Michele Bachmann: 187,814

    Constitutional amendment to raise taxes: 217,501

    Total votes cast: 413,369

    So the number of votes to raise taxes in the 6th CD beat the number of votes for Michele Bachmann by 29,687, or 8 percent. That’s nearly three times the margin by which Bachmann beat her opponent. Sounds to me like the voters of the 6th far preferred to vote to raise their own taxes than they did to re-elect Bachmann.

    Furthermore, Bachmann criticized Clark for voting FOR the Legacy Amendment, which placed a tax-raising issue on the ballot. At the same, she criticized Clark for voting AGAINST a transportation-funding amendment, which also placed a tax-raising issue on the ballot. These two criticisms are simply incompatible and make no sense whatsoever. Using Bachmann’s own logic, would she have praised Clark for voting AGAINST the Legacy Amendment and FOR the transportation amendment? Did anyone think to ask Bachmann how she would voted on these two amendments?

  • Soylent

    Bill, if the only media sources you trust are Pacifica and Ed Shultz don’t worry, I’ll be there to take your hand, baby I’ll be there to share the land that they’ll be givin away when we all live together now. I’m talkin bout forever now.

    Actually I think the Guess Who may have been thinking 40 acres and a mule. Tried it, crazy canuks.

    Don’t forget, those are your guys singing that American Woman song, and they weren’t kidding either. It makes sense then if Ms. Bachman calls out an administration that hires both Cass Sunstien and Van Jones. If the two of them promote eugenics AND violent street protests? But if I may speculate, that may not really bother you, right?

    And if a lady voted for a tax hike referendum, she voted for a tax hike and that counts as a truth, IMO.

  • Bill Prendergast

    Ms.Richert, MPR, et al.

    You read the comment just above, you see the kind of people that *want* Bachmann to win–and you still want to write about whether or not she’s got the “corn dog tax” story straight?

    That fact check on whether or not the President of the United States really is a “Marxist” or a “tyrant” or a “gangster…” Printing a verdict on the truth of those Bachmann statements, doesn’t interest you guys?

    It’s been four years now since I wrote to Bob Collins of MPR and sent him excerpts from documents quoting Bachmann, quotes from her own writings and out of her own mouth–that showed she was an extremist kook trying to appeal to extremist kooks. I told Collins all kinds of stuff about her that media around the country have been printing ever since; he wouldn’t touch it–it was too much like journalism to check it out or print it.

    And now, as she’s headed toward the top, you guys are chasing down a corn dog story. I have to write about this, I’m sorry, Soylent, I’m gonna put you in there, too. I’m not a socialist or a closeted Canadian, I just don’t want to see a bunch of lying nuts who’d prefer to see the president dead than in office, in power in the USA.