Lunchbag-gate: MNGOP illegally using Capitol office for campaign work, email indicates

Categories: MNGOP
lunch watson.jpg
Senate Republicans can't even eat lunch without getting in trouble.
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In the latest in a long-running string of embarrassments for the MNGOP, an email sent by Senate staffer Maureen Watson indicates the party is using a room just off the Senate floor for campaign work.

That's a violation of Minnesota law, which states: "An employee shall not use state time, supplies or state-owned property and equipment for the employee's private interests."

The email indicates the Republican Senate Caucus has been supplying lunches to volunteers who drop by Senate Room 208 around 11 in the morning. In exchange, volunteers grab a pile of campaign literature that they use to door-knock in support of Republican Senate candidates. The Lunch Hour Lit Drops have apparently been going on for some time -- in fact, more were planned for this week, though plans may have changed now that the practice has drawn media attention.

The story was first reported by Fox's Tom Lyden. Via Lyden's report, here's the email Watson send "SRC'ers" last Thursday:
maureen watson.jpg
Maureen Watson
From: Maureen Watson [Email Redacted]
: August 9, 2012 11:41:43 AM CDT
To: [Sent to Emails Redacted]
Subject: THANK YOU!!


Wanted to thank all of you who were able to help out this week with our lunch hour lit dropping and phoning! We had over 40 people out over the three days - so super turn out. Senator Lillie and Senator Daley have both emailed me thanking you for volunteering. It really let's [sic] them know we are in this together - and is the incentive they need to hit the streets and door-knock - again!

We have a similar plan in store for next week - going out lit dropping on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Please let me know when you would like to join us. If you are new to our Caucus and to our Lunch Hour Lit Drops - please consider joining us. It really helps out our Caucus and it is fun. If you have someone to pair up with great - if not, just show up in 208 about 10:45/11 - and you can join one of the groups. It is a great way to get to know your co-workers.

Of course - as always, lunches will be ready for you in Room 208 starting at 10:45.

Also - if you don't have a lot or any comp time or vacation - consider going out one day a week. If you take your lunch and breaks at your desk the rest of the week - you should be able to get about 2 hours for a lit drop on one day without losing any hours.

Again - thanks for your efforts this week - and here's to a successful next week!


P.S. I know that there are several of you from our staff out on Salary Savings - doing the Lord's work on campaigns near and far - I just don't want to take you off the email list since you are still a part of our family! We miss you!
Undercover camera footage later showed folks walking into Room 208 empty-handed, but walking out with brown sacks of lunch.

Lyden strolled into Watson's office to question her about the email and the footage, but she didn't want any part of him.

With an anxious look in her eyes, she said, unconvincingly, "I'm not organizing [lunches] here." She then took a call on her cell phone and walked away from her desk without saying a word.

Yesterday, DFL Chariman Ken Martin asked Senate administrators to investigate the allegations. Republicans deny wrongdoing.

"A group of people getting together on their own time for a sack lunch is not an infraction of Senate rules," said SRC spokesman Peter Winiecki, according to a Pioneer Press report.

Martin said that if nothing else, the SRC is guilty of stupidity.

"If this is not corruption, it must be incompetence at the least," he said. Raising further bewilderment is the fact that the SRC actually has an office in the nearby Kelly Inn, meaning the MNGOP could easily conduct its train wreck from a space near the Capitol without getting itself in trouble. 

Watson currently works as an assistant for Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem. She used to work as a legislative assistant for Amy Koch, the Michael Brodkorb-tainted former Speaker.

Room 208, in fact, used to be Koch's office. Take about a haunted house!

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  I don't know who is keeping track of the hours worked by Senate staffers, but there's no way you can eat lunch, travel to Suburbia, park, door knock, travel back to St Paul, park, and get back to your desk without some very creative timekeeping and a boss with no regard for either the law or taxpayer funds.

swmnguy topcommenter

These rules aren't exactly secret.  Everybody knows you can't use any State property for campaign purposes.  What the hell is wrong with these people?


This is typical b.s. corruption, but it does flag a far more serious issue. How many reporters are in the capitol every day, and why did it take a leaked email for them to twig to this obvious abuse of public space?


It's time to ask each and every Capitol beat reporter why they missed this.


Aaron, you're up first. And if you don't spend that much time at the Capitol, just say so, but tell us who does. Which faces do you see there every time you go there? Who are the gate keepers who keep the public from finding these things out?

TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

Granted, it was in bad taste to use state property or time to send non work related emails announcing a “lunch break lit-drop”.  I know firsthand that ALL capital staffers, democrats and republicans, have been notified not to use state time to do personal errands as a result of this.  That’s right, both side were doing it.  Connections, Aaron, connections!  They open up a whole new world exposing you’re only getting half the story…

Hmmm, I light of other recent news; I wonder if Rep. Kerry Gauthier (Democrat-Duluth), ever posted to Craigslist while in session or committee.  Or perhaps he simply paged his page (political aide) to the bathroom because his penis was wet and the hand dryer was broke…


 @Jkilvek The email covered that point, "Also - if you don't have a lot or any comp time or vacation - consider going out one day a week. If you take your lunch and breaks at your desk the rest of the week - you should be able to get about 2 hours for a lit drop on one day without losing any hours."


So basically she's asking people to skip their lunches for all but one day of the week to make up for the time lost canvassing, otherwise they are using their vacation time. I doubt that actually happened, but yeah, they did at least try to cover that point.

swmnguy topcommenter

 @TheConservativeJerk Regardless of what the spin strategy is, this isn't "bad taste," or using state time to do personal errands.  This is illegally using State resources for partisan campaign purposes.  It's a black-and-white violation of the law.  Maureen Watson obviously knew it was against the law, by her actions. 


That said, it is penny-ante corruption, and as Mark G. points out, it looks like it was done right out in the open in the confidence that nobody would say anything about it.


As for the rest of your comment, you're on the wrong thread.  That story is also up on this site.

MicheleBachmann topcommenter

 @TheConservativeJerk Thanks for pointing out that Republicans are racist bigoted scumbags who will tolerate any law breaking or scandal from Republicans but then don't understand why no one cares what they think when they point something bad a Democrat has done.  Just because someone else did something bad doesn't make it ok the Republicans are breaking the law.  Stupid freak, at least this time you didn't type out your bizarre boy stretching fantasies. 

TheConservativeJerk topcommenter


It's never OK.

What is with you and this projection thing you like to do? 

You’re perfectly describing yourself and your actions.  

Anybody that has posting around here for a while can clearly see this. 

BTW Michele, give an example of you coming down on a democrat for breaking the law or a scandal.

Just to be clear, I sad “coming down” on them, NOT going down on them…

MicheleBachmann topcommenter

 @TheConservativeJerk I posted on every Kerry Gautier story that he should resign.  You are a liar.  I am not.  You are a homopobic bigot freak that types out weird pedophile fantasies on here.   It's very creepy kirk the conservative pedophile. 

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