Thursday, April 26, 2007

Franken Funds: Part 1

MNPublius is a blog that likes to style itself as worthy of (or at least aspirant to) The Founders who penned the seminal masterwork, The Federalist Papers. What it actually behaves like is a DFL FAX machine. Democrats good, Republicans bad, to the point of silly invention. There’s no problem with that, just so long as everyone is honest with what’s going on. If they’re claiming ‘Publius’ for inspiration, they’re not fooling anyone except, perhaps, themselves.

Let’s take a look at a recent offering under the heading “Coleman Begs, Andy Barr Zings” regarding the Coleman/Franken Senate race in Minnesota. It starts out with a very strange straw-man rimshot:

“So, Senator Norm Coleman is sending out fundraising e-mails begging for money–not a big surprise:”

Well, of course. He’s running for office. Every politician sends “fundraising e-mails begging for money.” Even MNPublius favorites do, like Klobuchar. Ellison, etc. etc. Sooner or later Franken will be sending them out as well (if he hasn’t already). So why make a normal part of politics sound so suspect, unless there’s intent to create a baseless negative?

The post continues with this non-sequitor slight-of-hand:

“The Senator’s latest angle is portraying Franken as a Hollywood insider with an infinite tap of all that pinko LA money. Funny thing is, the people Al Franken got his money from last quarter were pretty much all people; only around $20K came from PACs.”

Funny thing is, neither the Coleman quote or the linked AP story mentions PACs, just people. Except when quoting Andy Barr’s response. So why bring it up? Probably to deflect from the fact that yes indeed, Franken is the recipient of largesse from "Hollywood's liberal elite." That MNPublius (and the Franken campaign) wishes to hide that fact is evident by their overlooking another AP story that gets more to the point:

Scores of actors, writers, producers and others from the entertainment industry have contributed to Al Franken's Senate campaign, helping the Minnesota Democrat get off to a strong fundraising start.

Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" star who hopes to take on GOP Sen. Norm Coleman next year, raised the maximum $4,600 from actors such as Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jason Alexander and Larry David…

Other notable contributors include actors Kevin Bacon and Kevin Kline; producers James L. Brooks and Norman Lear; directors Rob Reiner and Jonathan Demme; singers Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt; and actress Jane Curtain.

He also picked up donations from cartoonist Garry Trudeau, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, comedian Bill Maher, Dream Works Studios CEO David Geffen…

Coleman’s e-mail description seems pretty accurate, so the Franken campaign pre-empted the Hollywood observation by saying that Franken “had more donors from Minnesota than any other state.”

Now there’s no way to confirm that assertion for sure, since only certain contributions are detailed in Franken’s donation report (I think the cut-off is $250). So let’s take a quick look at the document.

By my count there are 843 contribution entries from individuals. Duplications from individuals can result as they give more than once, or to different pots (one for primary, one for general elections). But a quick count of “MN” entries yields 216 Minnesota contributions. That’s just over one fourth the total entries (25.6%).

So I tried an alternate method; I looked at the contributor at the top of each page. Since there are three per page, listed alphabetically by last name, I figured this would result in a fairly random distribution by state (although some may object that there’s a plethora of ‘Andersons’ and ‘Johnsons’ in Minnesota and a dearth of same elsewhere).

Given that there are 281 pages in the ‘individual contributions’ section means 281 persons randomly checked. Of these, 69 were from Minnesota for a total of 24.5%. That’s two pretty close percentages from two vary disparate methods of counting. For the record, California had 87, New York 41, and Washington 18. Those three states combined had more than twice the number of reported contributions as those from Minnesota.

Conclusion: Pleading that Franken’s fund raising is a ‘Minnesota-based’ enterprise is a fair stretch.

But stay tuned…we’re not quite done yet…

I could guaran-damn-tee you that the brunt of Franken's cash isn't coming anywhere from Minnesota.
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