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My Point of View: Rep. Hagedorn is out of step politically with the 1st District

My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

 

Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District deserves solid representation in Washington, D.C. and we’re not getting it with Jim Hagedorn.

First, Rep. Hagedorn is ethically compromised. In mid-August, the story broke that Hagedorn had fired his chief of staff Peter Su. Apparently the unusually large amount of money Hagedorn’s office was spending on printing and franked mail to constituents earlier this year (19% of his annual taxpayer-funded allowance) had a big problem — one of his staffers was part owner in a company that his office was contracting with to print the correspondence. This kind of self-dealing is prohibited when using taxpayer money.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

It’s still not clear who owns Abernathy West, a second company founded only a year ago that Hagedorn’s office also contracted with for printing. This information must come to light. A democracy cannot function without transparency about how taxpayer funds are spent and who receives them.

Last week, Hagedorn retained the same ethics lawyer who also represented disgraced Republicans like former representatives Aaron Schock and Duncan Hunter in their spending scandals. This is terrible company to be in, and Hagedorn knows he’s in hot water and likely to face a House ethics probe.

Hagedorn may be in his first term, but he’s an old hat on the Hill. He has been a Washington insider who has traded on his family name since the 1980s when he first used his family connections to snag an internship with former Rep. Arlan Stangeland.

Despite his decades of experience in D.C., Hagadorn was not able to avoid the pitfall of an ethics scandal in his first term.

Second, he doesn’t know the history of his own district. Earlier this summer, Congressman Hagedorn was the only Minnesotan to vote against removing Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. This is a strange stance from a Congressman whose state was the first to send volunteers to the Union Army in 1861. The Minnesota 1st Infantry Regiment gained many of its recruits from what is now the First District, and one was my spouse’s great-great grandfather George Buckman from Waseca. He served three years, including at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Hagedorn never served in the military. He has coasted his whole adult life on his family connections and sacrificed nothing. He attended high school in Virginia while his father was a congressman, and that may explain his affinity for the Confederacy instead of the Union that Minnesotans bravely fought to preserve. Hagedorn’s vote diminished the sacrifices of the Minnesota 1st.

Finally, Hagedorn has fallen down on the job for his large rural constituency regarding the post office. This past weekend, Hagedorn voted against the bipartisan Delivering for America Act to stabilize the USPS, which has been faltering badly under the recent leadership of Trump super donor Louis DeJoy, whose estimated $30-$75 million in stock with a USPS competitor is a gigantic financial conflict of interest.

Significant mail delays began within three weeks of Postmaster General DeJoy’s tenure this summer. It would simply not be possible to hobble the post office that quickly with incompetence. DeJoy is deliberately sabotaging delivery, leading to delays that have already hurt small businesses, veterans and others, and could potentially hinder mail-in voting this fall.

Rural areas rely on the level playing field and guaranteed service that USPS provides. Hagedorn is choosing to be loyal to Trump’s personal interests rather than the 1st District’s interests.

Furthermore, quite a few of Hagedorn’s rural constituents no longer have in-person polling places. About 140,000 rural Minnesotans live in towns and townships that have switched to mail-in voting instead, and they must be able to trust that their votes will be delivered and counted. Ironically, those voters skew heavily Republican, so Hagedorn is not even looking out for some of his own base. He’s disregarding these rural voters.

Hagedorn is out of step politically and out of bounds ethically. Send this legacy pledge congressman home in November by voting for Dan Feehan.

Dan Feehan is an Iraq War veteran, he made his own way without the benefit of a congressman father and he’s a family man raising three young children in our district. Feehan’s record of service, his common sense and common decency approach, his understanding of history and his commitment to our future is what the “Fighting First” deserves for leadership in Washington.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.