Erik Paulsen takes "Ice Bucket Challenge" for ALS research after voting to cut ALS research

PaulsenIceBucket.jpg
Screengrab via New York Daily News
Paulsen helped raise money for ALS research as a private citizen, but not as a congressman.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, along with 15 of his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been singled out by the Huffington Post for taking the "Ice Bucket Challenge" this summer to raise money for ALS research despite voting to cut government funding for that same sort of research back in 2011.

Sure, that sounds hypocritical on its face, but it's not necessarily so simple. The bill Paulsen supported that cut ALS funding -- the Budget Control Act of 2011 -- cut a number of federal agencies' budgets by 5 percent, including the National Institute of Health. In other words, it took a cleaver to spending, not a scalpel.

See also:
Sheila Kihne occupies Erik Paulsen's office after he says he wants to end shutdown

The bottom line, however, is that the cleaver ended up reducing federal funding for ALS research from $44 million to $39 million from fiscal year 2012 to 2013, the HuffPo reports. A subsequent budget deal approved this year increased funding for ALS-specific research by $1 million, but that still amounts to a $4 million shortfall compared to four years ago.

Of course, one can support ALS research while believing government should play less of a role in funding it. But nonetheless, the inconsistency between Paulsen's vote and his subsequent embrace of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised more than $40 million for the ALS Association so far, drew this rebuke from retiring Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan): We called and emailed Paulsen's press secretary seeking comment, but haven't heard back as this is published.

In any event, here's video of Paulsen fulfilling the Ice Bucket Challenge and challenging Amy Klobuchar, Rich Stanek, and Surly founder Omar Ansari to do the same:



Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.






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95 comments
Andrea Blalock
Andrea Blalock

In case you missed it, City Pages is using biased click-bait. The response in the original article expressed no outrage and praise for individual decisions and private sector fundraising. Today people feel the same way.

Gary Perisian
Gary Perisian

They are there to uphold the constitution. "Promote the General Welfare" to me means making sure people have there health. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Kent Smith
Kent Smith

Why is City Pages fishing for a story? Nothing here folks. I'd much rather a politician spend their own money rather than create new ways to spend more of mine. On a side note...I think your time would be better spent on a story of how ANY politician can get away with doing the ALS Challenge as it's a great conflict of public interest for private gain....albeit a good one, yet principal should be the same for any non-profit.

Danielle Demko
Danielle Demko

Personal philanthropy and deciding how to divvy up public money are separate. Let politicians be people, they could use more moments like this.

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

He is a politician what do you expect? When his party talks spending cuts, he cuts funding for ALS research. When donating to ALS research becomes popular he jumps on the band wagon. He probably doesn't give a shit one way or another.

raw.truth
raw.truth

Are you morons aware that these dread diseases have NO CURE? And that your money is utterly squandered in bloated administration costs?  Very little money is spent on so-called research. 


Can start by getting rid of NASA.

Jeff Hagen
Jeff Hagen

Him personally taking the challenge involves his own voluntary funding. His congressional (federal vote which would violate the 10th Amendment) vote involves involuntarily taking money from taxpayers. Huge difference. The only hypocrite here works for City Pages.

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

Unfortunately, imo people are using this as a means of attention rather than the cause it was intended for. But kudos to the idea, and I hope it drives real change in research and treatment.

Jessica Cronquist
Jessica Cronquist

The vote was in 2011, how much did we really know about ALS research? It's possible after the awareness that people can change. Judging someone who is donating to a good cause because of something 3 years ago makes no sense. Glad to see some congress do something GOOD!

Katie Robin
Katie Robin

Maybe if our wars were constitutional, there would be an argument ;)

Christian Hanson
Christian Hanson

Perhaps we should raise funds for the military via private funding campaigns, rather than compulsory taxation? But wait, you say, we can't risk a funding shortfall in that case because it's a matter of life or death. Exactly.

Christian Hanson
Christian Hanson

Instead of the decisions of experts at the NIH, let's allocate funds by which cause can come up with the wackiest donation campaign. Sounds rational.

John Kindseth
John Kindseth

Cool. But Congressman Paulsen was not a Congressman when those wars started, so that would have no relation to anything he did or did not vote for, and I don't know what that possibly has to do with government not being a charity. But lets go off on a tangent. Why was the war in Afghanistan not justified again? Merely saying "because Bush." is not a reason for government to get into the charity and support whatever special interest screams the loudest.

Patrick Quinn
Patrick Quinn

It just makes me laugh how a publication is always one sided! Republicans can only do wrong in Minnesota I guess.

Daniel Nixon
Daniel Nixon

It's liberalism 101.-If you don't agree with me, you must be a bad person.

Daniel Nixon
Daniel Nixon

I guess since his agenda doesn't fit yours, no matter what he does, he would be wrong in your eyes.

Lisa Kristine
Lisa Kristine

You are so right. We cant fund 5hings like scientific research and health care, we gots wars to fund! Moron.

Lisa Kristine
Lisa Kristine

Yeah and I was "forced" to fund 2 unjustified wars that cost trillions and 1000s of human lives.

Lisa Kristine
Lisa Kristine

How is this biased? I challenge you to find a democrat who voted to cut ALS funding but then grandstanded to look good. The truth hurts, huh?

Lisa Kristine
Lisa Kristine

For fucks sake. I want the trillions spent on 2 unjustified wars back. Oh, and all those lives lost in them too.

Paul J Sullivan
Paul J Sullivan

Not hypocritocal. It's called responsible budgeting and charity. You can 't eat 5 quarter pieces out of a pie. Somethings gotta give. Apparently, people love to be critical without critical thinking.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

You live here voluntarily, if you don't want to support the government get out. Go somewhere where they don't tax you. I hear Bangladesh is nice this time of year.

green23
green23 topcommenter

ALS research has been running ads for over two decades. Previously, it was known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" in an attempt to..."raise awareness". 


It's "possible", as you say, that Paulsen was completely unaware of ALS prior to the "Challenge", but that's doubtful. And, if Paulsen was cutting funding for programs that he failed to understand, what does that say about him? Does that "make no sense", as you put it? Odd that Paulsen's newly raised "awareness" isn't prompting him to support restoration of the cut funding, since he's such a good guy, isn't it? Nope. Instead, he uses his stunt to challenge Democrats. Wow, he's totally changed!


While no mention of made of how many dozens of dollars Paulsen's stunt actually raised, It should be obvious that it's nothing in comparison to the billions in funding that he cut. That point seems to have escaped you.


"Raising awareness" is a pathetic buzzword. That guy pan-handling in the street is "raising awareness" for homelessness, right? Without funding, no progress is going to made in the struggles against any disease, regardless of the level of "awareness". Federal funding is a stable source, rather than relying on the equivalent of loose change from stunts that will be forgotten three years from now. This stunt was a symbolic gesture designed to make Paulsen look good, and you certainly fell for it.


Yeah, it's nice that Paulsen shook a couple of nickels loose from his salary for this cause, but where did that salary come from?

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

In this case it should have been called the Douse the Douche challenge.

raw.truth
raw.truth

Next it will be private, off-base housing for the queers in the military.

raw.truth
raw.truth

He is just your typical political whore.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

It wasn't justified because the Ruling Party in Afghanistan at the time offered to hand Bin Laden over to a nuetral party for prosecution. Bush the Lesser, refused that offer and chose to go to war instead. He felt that a nice little war would make him a successful president. Then he chose to spend all the Political Capital 9/11 got him and go off on a 'Tangent" in  Iraq. How many lives did he waste there, now much cash? 2 trillion is the current estimate. You may not like it when the blame is laid at his feet, but that doesn't mean it isn't justified.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

Not only in Minnesota, they're pretty much wrong wherever they are.

green23
green23 topcommenter

Look up what a "blog" is. 


I guess that, as long as some Democrat in the country is less than perfect, then Paulsen can do whatever he wants without anyone reporting on it.


One Party opposed the funding cuts. Another embraced them, and even bragged about them. Totally equivalent, right? 


Paulsen made his stunt political by challenging prominent Democrats to do the same. You don't make a political statement like that, and then get to criticise others for being "political". He didn't challenge any of his fellow Republicans to perform a meaningless stunt, even the ones that voted to cut the funding. Isn't that "one-sided"?

ron.fresquez
ron.fresquez topcommenter

Republicans can only do wrong in Minnesota I guess.....................There is a reason why the MN Regressive Party has been kicked to the curb like common roadside trash in the last few elections.................There is a reason why the Democrats control the House, Senate and the Governors Mansion.

green23
green23 topcommenter

Wasn't it Republicans that told us that anyone that disagreed with Bush was guilty of treason? Yes, it was.

raw.truth
raw.truth

What we have here is failure to communicate.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0 topcommenter

The truth also has a Liberal bias. That's their real problem with this site. Fact, truth, common sense, honesty all lean Liberal. That's why these Radical Righties (Average everyday Republicans) complain, too much fact and truth.

raw.truth
raw.truth

Just how much of a fucks sake do you mean, specifically?

raw.truth
raw.truth

@green23 The "We will cure cancer in your lifetime" slogan/tag line of the total rip off Cancer Society isn't run any more since they were investigated. 

ALS, Cancer, Heart and Lung Associations are only three big rip-off outfits. 

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