Rep. Matt Entenza, who denied Thursday that he has conducted opposition research on his Republican opponent for Minnesota attorney general, on Friday seemed to revise his statement and said his campaign possessed information collected on at least some Republicans. "I just wanted you to know that we checked our files, and I did want to make clear that we do have some opposition research on Republicans," Entenza said in a voice-mail message left for the Pioneer Press.Oh yea, the cowardly voice-mail. 'Checked the files,' that's double-plus good.
The national office of AARP on Friday also made public a written apology from Entenza's campaign manager, retracting a statement earlier in the week that the association, which represents seniors, had produced a report clearing Entenza's wife of wrongdoing in connection with stock options.Entenza: "You mean I shouldn't have made that up and put it out on behalf of a third party?"
And, in another development, an executive of a Chicago political research company that Entenza hired a year ago to check up on Mike Hatch, the current attorney general, declined to talk to Minnesota reporters. Entenza had said Thursday the executive would be available to discuss the research.Strike three, Matt; grab some pine.
- A year ago, a Republican Internet blog reported that Entenza had hired a Chicago private detective to dig up dirt on Hatch in an effort to clear the way for Entenza to run for governor. Entenza at the time told the Pioneer Press the speculation was "just absolutely absurd.'Well it seems that it wasn't so absurd, wsa it Matt, since, uh you were already doing it.
Why should Entenza owe the public any explanation about the garbage diggers he hires; it's not like he's running for Attorney General or anything.
- On Tuesday, the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune quoted Entenza and Hatch acknowledging that Entenza, indeed, hired a Chicago political consulting firm to request public documents on Hatch's official spending.
- On Thursday, the same Republican blog-Minnesota Democrats Exposed-posted new evidence that the firm made a wider background check on Hatch, including looking up a parking ticket he got in 2003.
- Also Thursday, Entenza publicly apologized to Hatch for the background investigation, which he said the Chicago firm expanded without his knowledge or consent.
After leaving his voice-mail message with the Pioneer Press, which referred only to possessing "some opposition research on Republicans," Entenza did not respond to requests for a follow-up interview. John Van Hecke, Entenza's campaign manager, refused to say whether the research covered Johnson or reveal who conducted it.
On Thursday, Entenza promised that Dennis Gragert, a principal in the Chicago company Entenza hired, would make himself available to Minnesota reporters Friday. Gragert was supposed to elaborate on a written statement in which he backed up Entenza's assertion that the firm's research on Hatch, including the investigation of the parking ticket, went beyond anything Entenza had requested. Instead, a spokesman for Gragert telephoned reporters and said: "He stands by the statement, and has no further comment on the matter."That's understandable - the spying fees Entenza paid Gragert probably didn't cover the long-distance phone charges for subsequent ass-covering. Wait, there's more!
I guess he must've been against misusing the AARP's report before he released it. Wonder where he learned that sleight of hand.
In a totally separate part of the storm of criticism Entenza now faces from Republicans, Johnson has demanded for weeks that Entenza say how he would avoid a conflict of interest involving an investigation Hatch initiated of UnitedHealth Group. The giant Minnetonka-based health care company employs Entenza's wife, Lois Quam, as a top executive. On Wednesday, Entenza issued a long statement saying that AARP had issued a report, "based on an independent, internal investigation, unequivocally stating that my wife, Lois Quam, has never had anything to do with granting stock options or setting compensation policy.''
In fact, AARP, a major UnitedHealth customer, last week received a letter from a UnitedHealth lawyer stating that Quam has not served on the company's board or compensation committee and seemed not to have been responsible for awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in stock options that now are at the heart of state and federal investigations. But AARP did not publicize that letter, or claim it exonerated Quam. After learning of Entenza's statement, AARP demanded an apology and Van Hecke, the campaign manager, issued one. Entenza also issued a rewritten statement in which he dropped any reference to AARP.