Daily Digest: Swanson goes after Walz

Good morning, and happy Friday. The contenders for the DFL gubernatorial nomination will be on the radio on MPR News at 11 today. Tune in if you can or catch the podcast later this afternoon. In the meantime, here’s the Digest.

1. Swanson raps Walz for missed votes.  Attorney General Lori Swanson began airing a television commercial in heavy rotation Thursday that says U.S. Rep. Tim Walz has not been an effective opponent to President Donald Trump because the six-term congressman has been distracted by his run for higher office. Swanson and Walz are locked in a three-way battle for the DFL nomination for governor with state Rep. Erin Murphy “Say ‘no’ to no-show Walz,” the ad concludes, accusing the congressman of missing 60 percent of House votes this year. Potential DFL voters have also started receiving mailings from a pro-Swanson independent group that make the same case. They use the same statistics and argue that Walz has a habit of missing work while still being paid by taxpayers. At the Dakota County Fair where he was campaigning, Walz said it was disappointing that Swanson went on the attack. The attention suggests that momentum is on his side and his rival is trying to slow it, he added. Walz didn’t dispute that he has missed votes in Congress this year, but he said he has been doing his job by providing input on a new federal farm bill and active in matters of veteran affairs oversight. “No one has ever accused me of not being a hard worker. No one has ever accused me of not delivering,” he said, adding that there’s a risk involved with Swanson going negative. “The public is not any mood for nonsense. They’re in mood for solutions; they’re in a mood for seeing things get done. And trying to play one group off another or trying to wedge this issue probably doesn’t work.” (MPR News)

2. Former Swanson employee says politics was his job. D’Andre Norman described one of his actual roles in the Minnesota attorney general’s office as being a “recruiter.” He said this meant his job was to encourage employees to staff Swanson’s frequent political events, and he was widely understood to be one of Swanson’s most trusted allies in the office. Multiple sources who spoke to The Intercept confirmed his close association with Swanson. This included Linda McEwen, Swanson’s former executive assistant, who worked in the office from 2007 to 2009, when she was fired. McEwen said that during her tenure, Norman would accompany Swanson to many political events she scheduled on Swanson’s calendar, and he’d help recruit employees to attend other campaign functions. Norman emphasized that the work Swanson wanted done required dozens of employees over the course of a year. “Since 2007, Swanson wanted to get ready to run for governor,” he said. But in order to do so, according to Norman, Swanson believed she needed a constant presence “at every political convention.” This included conventions for the 67 Minnesota Senate districts, which were usually held on weekends. (The Intercept)

3. Walz wants answers about the ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd.’ Democratic lawmakers said they will investigate how three outsiders have been shaping policy and personnel at the Department of Veterans Affairs. A ProPublica investigation Tuesday revealed the vast influence of the trio, who often meet at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Tim Walz, the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, sent a letter to the agency’s new secretary demanding that the VA hand over all records of contacts between agency officials and the three men, who are sometimes referred to as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd.” “This situation reeks of corruption and cronyism,”Walz  said in a statement. “If these revelations prove true, and VA is being secretly run from the shadows of Mar-a-Lago by individuals with no accountability to taxpayers and who have never served in the United States military or government, then that would amount to an unprecedented, disturbing, and profoundly unacceptable betrayal of our nation’s veterans.” (ProPublica)

4. Klobuchar, Newberger agree farmers need help. Minnesota’s two major candidates for a six-year U.S. Senate term make it clear that there should be an urgency to complete a federal farm bill and other work that affects farmers. But U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and state Rep. Jim Newberger showed hundreds in a Farmfest audience Thursday that they have plenty of differences about how to get there. The farm bill, which sets federal farm law for five years, and a trade war affecting agriculture are hitting farmers after they have endured low prices for five years. The three factors make it important for trade and farm legislation to get done quickly, the two candidates said. “Right now, this is the worst time this could happen,” said Newberger, a Republican state representative from Becker making his first try at statewide office. He said officials in Washington must get some resolutions to the issues before the fall harvest. Otherwise, he warned, farmers could face disaster. Democrat Klobuchar did not argue. With weather volatility and the trade war, “we need to get things done.” (Forum News Service)

5. Hackers hit Hennepin County staff. Cyber attackers have infiltrated e-mail accounts for about 20 Hennepin County employees since late June, and may have accessed the private information of people who rely on the county’s services, county officials revealed Thursday. Using e-mails disguised as pay raise notifications, a sophisticated phishing scam duped the employees into giving up their login information, then used their official e-mail accounts and signatures to spread the attack to other contacts, according to county officials. The county is still investigating what private information may have been exposed. “We have a dedicated team working on this very issue, going through what could have been in those e-mail boxes,” said Jerome Driessen, the county’s chief information officer. He said the county generally advises people not to put private information into e-mails. (Star Tribune)

Are you looking for complete coverage of the 2018 mid-term elections from MPR News reporters, NPR and the Associated Press? Well, it just so happens we have it right here.

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