Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Ron Eibensteiner: Minnesota's Very Own Tom DeLay!

Even as The Hammer gets ready to take his long-overdue fall (and does his damndest to taint the jury pool in the process), I was reminded that right here in River City Minnesota, we've got our very own Tom DeLay. His name's Ron Eibensteiner, and he's the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party -- or was until he was dumped this last June, allegedly for not raising enough money and not being enough of a lockstep ideologue, but more likely because of the shellacking the Republicans took in the Minnesota Legislature last fall. (Ebbie tried to blame the losses on alleged naughtiness by the Minnesota Democrats, but his use of the blame game didn't get very far.) Now, if you'd clicked on any of the two links in that last paragraph, one thing you wouldn't see is the fact that Eibensteiner was indicted back in 2003 on campaign-finance-abuse charges remarkably similar to those currently faced by Tom DeLay. Thanks to Minnesota GOP Watch, I have here a piece from the 09/30/05 edition of the Houston Chronicle to help fill you in on Ebbie Baby:

If there is a parallel universe for Republican politicians facing campaign finance criminal charges, former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and former Minnesota Republican Chairman Ron Eibensteiner could be living in it. ... DeLay was indicted this week by a grand jury in Austin, Texas, on a felony charge of criminal conspiracy involving $190,000 in corporate contributions that were sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee, RNSEC, in 2002 and then allegedly returned to Texas candidates in violation of state law. Eibensteiner was indicted in 2003 by a grand jury in Austin, Minn., on a gross misdemeanor charge of forwarding a banned $10,000 corporate contribution to RNSEC in 2002 that was then returned to the Republican gubernatorial candidate as legal donations from individuals. Eibensteiner is set to go to trial Nov. 7. ... "I'm actually thrilled with the parallel and to be associated with Tom DeLay, because I know if Tom DeLay's case is anything similar to mine ... I'm in good company," Eibensteiner said. ... "If you talk to Tom DeLay, just tell him he has a fan up in Minnesota," Eibensteiner said.
But wait! There's MORE! From the 10/08/05 Minneapolis StarTribune:
Eibensteiner is accused of aiding and abetting illegal campaign contributions from American Bankers Insurance Co., a Florida company that has acknowledged it wanted to defeat Independence Party candidate Tim Penny in the 2002 governor's race. Penny's defeat was expected to result in the departure of Commerce Commissioner Jim Bernstein, who was appointed by former IP Gov. Jesse Ventura. Bernstein was aggressively pursuing large fines against the company. Company officials donated $15,000 each to the national funds of the Republican and Democratic parties. State officials for both major parties said that they forwarded the money to the national party units and that the money was not spent in Minnesota. [...] The difference is that Eibensteiner sent a letter to lobbyist Ron Jerich thanking him for helping arrange the company's donation. The letter, which prosecutors liken to a smoking gun, stated that the party planned to spend $1.5 million to elect Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty, adding that "your contribution will help us accomplish our budget goal." Eibensteiner declined to comment but his lawyer, Bill Mauzy, said the note was part of a form letter that gives a mistaken impression. "The form letter should have been changed because it incorrectly implies that the money was going to be used in Minnesota," he said. Eibensteiner has told investigators that he never talked to American Bankers officials and never solicited any contributions from them. The company has agreed to pay $1 million to have charges dropped against it and two of its executives, although they admitted no wrongdoing.
Pass the popcorn!

Comments: why is MPR so allergic to reporting indictments? You have to go to a Texas paper to learn about what's going in River City?

And what's this about Pawlenty accepting large amounts of dirty money?
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