MANKATO - Minnesota First Congressional District candidate Allen Quist is asking for an apology of his DFL incumbent opponent U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, saying Walz is secretly responsible for false claims in an anti-Quist mailer.
The mailer was sent out to homes throughout the First District over the last few days. The Minnesota DFL party paid for and distributed the mailer.
The mailer claims in large lettering on the back that Quist "wants to end [Medicare] forever." The other side goes into more detail, claiming that Quist wants to convert Medicare into a private voucher system. The remainder of the mailer references facts about vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget plan, which it says are shared by Quist. However, the mailer's citations point to a Sept. 8 story in the Mankato Free Press as proof. There was no article on Quist published in that edition of the Free Press.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the state DFL sent an e-mail stating that the mailer should have referenced the Sept. 5 article on Quist's opposition to the Farm Bill. In the article, Quist is quoted as saying he favors the Paul Ryan plan of turning the food stamps portion of the bill into a block grant program. The state DFL e-mail then says this means he supports the portion of the Ryan plan pertaining to Medicare.
Quist has repeatedly stated in the past that he opposes any cuts to Medicare, Social Security and veterans' benefits because he considers the programs an unbreakable promise between the U.S. government and its citizens. Quist repeated on Friday that he opposed changing or cutting Medicare.
"You couldn't make a stronger statement than 'Allen Quist wants to end Medicare forever,'" said Quist, "It's the complete reverse of my position.'
Quist said that he believes the mailer is intentionally false and sent in the last few days of the campaign to leave him without time to challenge its claims.
The state DFL response to Quist's press conferences in Mankato and Rochester was to assert it stood behind its mailer and that Quist needed to apologize to senior citizens.
Quist seeks to hold
Quist initially called a press conference to call on Walz to disavow the mailer. But, by the time he held the meetings on Friday, he switched to claiming Walz was secretly behind the state DFL's mailer.
Quist's evidence for the claim was the fact that Walz's most recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) report for October showed he had transfered a total of $135,000 to the state DFL party over the past month.
"He has essentially paid for it," said Quist. "He has to take full responsibility."
Quist said that Walz clearly knew that he would be challenged over the claim, so he used the state DFL to mask his actions.
The use of Walz's donations is harder to track since the FEC report does not indicate whether it went to state or federal Minnesota DFL accounts. The Minnesota DFL reported spending on a Walz mailer was $55,000, which is less than Walz's total contribution. Comparatively, the state DFL produced mailers for Rick Nolan's campaign for Minnesota's 8th District, even though he did not donate to the party that month.
The Walz campaign did not reply to requests for comment on this story.
Quist was asked at the press conference whether he was jumping to conclusions about the use of Walz's donation, particularly since Congressional candidates often contribute to the their state parties and state parties often provide supportive material. Quist said that since Walz's funds went to the state DFL's coffers and the party created the mailer, no further connection needed to be established. He said the situation was obvious enough to not need further investigation.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.