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Sep 15th, 2010

Sportsmen Dispute Bachmann on Legacy Amendment

Michele Bachmann (Star Tribune)

By Kevin Diaz
Star Tribune
September 15, 2010

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the GOP’s leading anti-tax champions, scored political points in a recent ad accusing DFL challenger Tarryl Clark of voting to raise the state sales tax on corn dogs and just about anything else covered by Minnesota’s 2008 conservation “legacy” amendment.

But the attack came as a surprise to a number of leading sportsmen’s groups whose leaders had long counted Bachmann as a supporter of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters two years ago.

The so-called Legacy Amendment — which raised the sales tax by 3/8 of 1 percent — is now the subject of a bitter dispute between Bachmann’s campaign, which says she opposes the measure, and a number of leading outdoorsmen, who say she publicly endorsed it in appearances before the Game Fair in Anoka, one as recently as last month.

Clark’s campaign says it’s either the “ultimate flip-flop,” or Bachmann has turned her back on many of the same sportsmen who supported her in 2008.

Bachmann aides say there’s been no change of heart.

“Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has made it clear that she did not support the Legacy Amendment,” said spokesman Sergio Gor. “In fact, during her time in the state Legislature, she voted against a similar measure.”

Bachmann aides say that as a member of the state Senate, she backed a measure to dedicate a portion of the existing sales tax to conservation.

But a number of outdoors writers and others who attended Game Fair in August 2008 say Bachmann told the annual gathering of hunting and fishing enthusiasts that she supported the constitutional amendment to raise the sales tax, later approved by 56 percent of voters, including a majority in Bachmann’s district.

Ken Martin ran the Vote Yes Minnesota campaign in support of the Legacy Amendment and said he heard Bachmann’s remarks at Game Fair. She “indicated her strong support” to enthusiastic applause from the group, he said. Martin’s group then trumpeted her apparent support as evidence that, despite some Republican Party opposition, the measure had bipartisan support in the Minnesota delegation in Congress.

“It’s bizarre that now that this whole thing has come up, she’s trying to have her cake and eat it too,” Martin said.

Paul Austin, executive director of Conservation Minnesota, which also backed the amendment, said Bachmann’s expression of support was “widely discussed” among sportsmen’s groups. “We thought, wow, that’s great,” he said. “If she was offended, she didn’t say so.”

Campaign ad

The issue was raised indirectly in a Bachmann campaign ad during last month’s State Fair featuring “Jim the Election guy,” a fictional character who criticized Clark, a state senator, for raising taxes “on your corn dog, and your deep-fried bacon and your beer.”

The charge was based in part on Clark’s vote in the Legislature to put the Legacy Amendment on the ballot. But the ad appeared shortly after Bachmann returned to the Game Fair in Anoka last month and, say the sportsmen, backed the Legacy Amendment.

“She brought it up,” said “Minnesota Bound” TV host Ron Schara, who interviewed her over a public intercom. While he could not recall her exact words, Schara, a retired Star Tribune outdoors columnist, said she “inferred again her support for what this has accomplished.”

Game Fair organizer Chuck Delaney said that while he didn’t hear Bachmann’s remarks, her presence at one of the nation’s largest sportsmen’s events was taken as tacit endorsement of the amendment. “These people are asking for the votes of sportsmen,” he said. “So I’m sure they wouldn’t come out here if they’re against anything that sportsmen are for.”

Schara and others say Bachmann was more explicit in her support at the Game Fair in 2008, when the Legacy Amendment was going on the ballot.

“As clearly as I remember anything, I remember Michele speaking in favor of the constitutional amendment,” said Schara, who was hosting a public candidate forum that year as well. “I don’t remember her exact words, only that she supported the effort because of her family. They do hunt and fish and enjoy the outdoors.”


Journalist Schara: Bachmann Backed Tax

By Mark Sommerhauser
St. Cloud Times
September 15, 2010

Another observer says U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke publicly in 2008 in support of a tax increase that she has since criticized her election opponent, Tarryl Clark, for backing.

Journalist Ron Schara interviewed Bachmann, R-Stillwater, before a crowd at the 2008 Game Fair, an annual late-summer gathering in Anoka for outdoors and hunting enthusiasts.

That interview became an issue last week after a Bachmann spokesman said she never supported Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. The amendment to Minnesota’s constitution raised sales taxes to finance outdoors and arts projects.

Schara is a Star Tribune contributor and retired columnist who hosts the “Minnesota Bound” TV show. He said Bachmann told the Game Fair crowd in 2008 that she supported the Legacy amendment. Newspaper columnist Dennis Anderson [link added] reported the same in October 2008 [link added].

“I did ask Michele if she supported the constitutional amendment,” Schara said Tuesday. “She very clearly said yes.”

During that interview, Schara also said Bachmann was wearing a “Vote Yes” button distributed by Sportsmen for Change-Minnesota, a group that lobbied for passing the amendment.

Schara and Game Fair organizer Chuck Delaney said they aren’t aware of audio or video recordings of the interview.

Bachmann recently ran TV campaign ads criticizing Clark for supporting the sales-tax increase imposed by the Legacy Amendment. In the ads, a spokesman calling himself Jim the Election Guy says Clark supported increasing taxes on school supplies, and on corn dogs and deep-fried bacon sold at the Minnesota State Fair.

Clark, a St. Cloud DFLer, voted in the state Senate in 2008 in favor of putting the Legacy sales-tax amendment to a voter referendum, and said she supported its passage on her Election Day ballot.

Clark spokesman Zach Rodvold wrote Tuesday that Bachmann flip-flopped on the amendment and misled voters on her position.

“Michele Bachmann’s constituents — especially the thousands of outdoors enthusiasts — deserve to know where she really stands,” Rodvold wrote in a news release.

Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor reiterated what he told the Times last week [link added]. Bachmann “has made it clear she did not support the Legacy Amendment,” Gor said.

As a state senator, Bachmann voted against a similar amendment proposal in 2006.


Related reports

The Shadow by Karl Bremer

“Jim, the Election Guy” takes wide stance in Bachmann ad by Ken Avidor

Image: Dump Bachmann


Related reports on this site

Michele Bachmann ‘Lies in Christ’ (Aug. 31, 2009)

Bachmann Bears False Witness (Nov. 20, 2008)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — September 15, 2009

Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties

One year ago today, I provided my weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; reported that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a proper effort to counter the Taliban insurgency would probably require more forces; and noted that four mortar shells landed in the Green Zone as Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq on an unannounced mission to help the country resolve its differences ahead of America’s military withdrawal.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — September 15, 2008

Damaged and burnt-out vehicles alongside the road following a double car bombing in the central Baghdad district of Karrada on Sept. 15, 2008. Two near simultaneous car bombings in central Baghdad killed 12 people and wounded 32, security officials said. (Photo credit: Ali Yussef / AFP — Getty Images)

After the Primary Election: Day 6

Two years ago today, on the sixth day after losing my 2008 primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in line with my focus on national security, I reported  a mass-casualty car bombing in Iraq and announced three upcoming events at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., with a focus on foreign policy and international affairs.

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