Bills charges Klobuchar ad shows political payback

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills says auto dealer Paul Walser’s endorsement of Amy Klobuchar in a campaign ad shows the Democratic U.S. senator is a “crony capitalist.” Klobuchar’s campaign released an ad this week that featured Walser, a Republican, thanking Klobuchar for her work to save his dealership when General Motors underwent restructuring.

“I don’t know why you do an ad like that,” Bills said. “It’s showing you’re a crony capitalist. You’re going to side with the people who can fill your campaign coffers up.”

Bills said there “won’t be a lot of rich elites running” to him to donate money because he opposed the auto bailout and TARP for banks.

Over the past few weeks, Bills and his campaign have been suggesting that Klobuchar is a part of a Washington D.C. establishment that favors big business over the average American.

He also suggested that Walser, who typically donates to Republican candidates, ran the ad because Klobuchar is backing him.

Walser told the Star Tribune that it’s preposterous to suggest the ad was payback.

Klobuchar’s campaign took issue with Bills’ suggestion.

“Senator Klobuchar is proud of the work she has done to make sure these businesses got a fair shake instead of being shut down without cause,” Klobuchar campaign spokesman Linden Zakula wrote in an e-mail.

Zakula also notes that Klobuchar worked to save 28 auto dealerships and that the ad featured Walser and two other car dealers (Fury Dodge Chrysler & Valley Pontiac Buick GMC) that were facing possible closure.

Zakula said the Minnesota Auto Dealers named Klobuchar their “Legislator of the Year” in 2009 for her efforts to save the dealerships.

  • So it appears that Kurt Bills doesn’t think that the government should help any private business owner. Fair enough. Then why didn’t he champion legislation at the state level to repeal all tax breaks and beneficial programs that are directed towards private businesses in this state? I don’t remember him doing that. Then again, I don’t remember him pushing any serious legislation in his time in St. Paul.

  • Eric Ferguson

    No Mr. Bills, it has nothing to do with the auto bailout or TARP. Donors aren’t running to you because you’re a crank with little connection to the real world. It’s probably too much to hope that the drubbing you’re about to receive will put an end to goldbuggery and tentherism and the notion that it’s OK to let the financial system collapse and a big part of our manufacturing base be torn down just so ideologues like you can remain pure, but I guess hope springs eternal.

  • Craig Westover

    The problem here is not Walser’s or Klobuchar’s ethics. The problem is it is necessary for a business owner to go to government for permission to operate his business. What are we talking about here? Gov’t set in place a policy that led to the potential closure of Walser’s car dealership. To prevent that Walser had to go to his Senator and beg her to intervene on his behalf against a policy she voted for in the best interest of the country. She did, and save jobs in Minnesota. But at what cost?

    First, letting GM fail would not have changed the demand for cars. People would have bought cars from other companies. So those companies, more efficient companies, lost business and jobs, and society lost because gov’t (Klobuchar) routed resources to a less e3fficient source. When she help Walser stay open, she again cost jobs at dealerships that would have absorbed Walser’s business. Those dealers pay taxes, too, so they essentially paid to have gov’t act contrary to their best interests.

    Bottom line, gov’t had no business getting involved in the first place. Unfortunately, in this case, the Bill campaign is trying to score political points instead of making the Econ 101 argument — gov’t canno create jobs and has no business picking winners and losers.