Rep. Mary Franson outs herself as careless driver to "scoop" Star Tribune's Jon Tevlin

Categories: Media, Politics
Mary Franson needs a public relations professional
Rep. Mary Franson sent out a press release Friday evening outing herself as a careless driver in response to a forthcoming Star Tribune column by Jon Tevlin.

Identifying Tevlin as "yet another liberal reporter" and "a voice for the dependency lobby," Franson claimed her critics were intimidated by her "efforts to help the poor instead of binding them more tightly into their abject conditions." Franson has been in hot water for comparing food stamp recipients to animals.

"My personal shortcomings, of which, mercifully, the reporter has none, are now to be used to discredit my message of hope and dignity," Franson wrote, before launching into her personal history. "Approximately ten years ago I was charged with careless driving and again one year later."

Franson's decision to "speak first because I am not afraid" appeared rather ridiculous Saturday morning when Tevlin's column, "In Rep. Franson's district, 'animals' are also known as constituents," ran with no mention of her driving record, as did her decision to email the press release to Tevlin with a note reading: "I thought I would scoop you."

Tevlin reached out to Franson because he was interested in the issues raised by Franson's comparison of food stamp recipients to animals. He'd also done a quick background check on her and thought her driving record was worth looking into.

Jon Tevlin got "scooped" by Rep. Mary Franson

"I asked her in a voicemail so she assumed I was going to put it in a column," Tevlin says.

Instead of excoriating Franson for her driving record, however, Tevlin reported a column about Franson's constituents in Todd County, where unemployment is low but food stamp use is high.

"It's not because they're lazy," Tevlin says, citing low unemployment numbers. "It's because their jobs don't pay them enough."

Tevlin was disappointed by Franson's press release, and her refusal to call him back.

"I think if she had called me back we would've had a good chat about what the issue is," Tevlin says. In the column, Tevlin discusses growing up in Todd County, where his family took food stamps after his father had an aneurysm.

There's nothing cute about Rep. Franson's comments about food stamps, but these raccoons are adorable
"My dad accepted food stamps because he believed in responsibility, responsibility to feed his kids even though he couldn't work," Tevlin wrote.

Tevlin has never had a politician "scoop" him before, or try to.

"I'm going to cut her some slack, though," Tevlin says. "She's a rookie politician."

The veteran Star Tribune columnist does dispute Franson's characterization of him as "liberal."

"I'm probably liberal on some issues, conservative on others, moderate on most," Tevlin says. "I don't remember getting a thank you from her when I wrote a critical column about Keith Ellison."

As for Franson's sarcastic aside that Tevlin must have no shortcomings, Tevlin laughs.

"I can't think of any offhand. It's probably a good day [Saturday] to ask my wife. It's our 24-year anniversary," Tevlin says.

Franson did not return messages seeking comment. Read her full press release on the next page.

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