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Tony Sutton and the Myth of the Fiscally Prudent and Managerially Competent Republican

1:12 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Image by Tild of

So what happens to a Republican operative who failed at being a party treasurer, failed at running a turkey farm for fellow Republican operatives, failed at running the Republican Party of Minnesota, and failed at running a shakedown with his then-wife (and ex-wife as of five months ago) Bridget?

Why, you file for bankruptcy, of course. Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie has the details:

A friendly tipster brought a bankruptcy filing listed in the Sept 1 Star Tribune Recent bankruptcy filings in Minneapolis and St. Paul to our attention:

Anthony Gerard Sutton and Bridget Mary Cronin Sutton, as surety for JC
Food Systems and Sutton Enterprises, doing business as Baja Sol, as
surety for IGH Cantina, doing business as Baja Sol Tortilla Grill, 8540
Bechtel Av., Inver Grove Heights; filed Aug. 23, 13-34121; Chap. 7;
assets, $296,404; liabilities, $2,134,346.

Sounds like the TCF Coopers, who were Sutton’s partners in Baja Sol, have totally cut both him and Bridget off from what was once a very generous wingnut-welfare gravy train. Sutton, whose failures as RPM treasurer and Baja Sol owner did not impede his greased-skid progress to becoming RPM chair, seems to have finally found a sticky wicket out from which he cannot “fail upward” as he has done so often in the past.

As Tony Sutton sees his nadir, so also does the myth of the fiscally prudent and managerially competent Republican. Sutton used the myth of his skill with numbers and business expertise to get to the top of the Republican Party of Minnesota; now he is gone, and his chief ally Michael Brodkorb is gone, and the Republicans are left to pick up the pieces.

Churn, Baby, Churn: Minnesota’s Republicans in Meltdown Mode

6:57 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Brodkorb the Ladykiller, courtesy of

You know that scene near the end of The Wrath of Khan where the dying Khan, in full Ahab mode, sets his commandeered ship to be a time bomb intended to take out the Good Ship Enterprise, whose warp engines he knows to be disabled? That’s what I’m thinking of when I hear the latest twist in the Michael Brodkorb portions of the saga called the Fall of the House of Sutton:


A former Minnesota Senate staffer who claims he was fired because of an affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch is now saying he intends to expose female staffers who had affairs with legislators and were not fired as part of a potential lawsuit.

Michael Brodkorb’s lawyer, Phillip G. Villaume, filed a notice of claims seeking more than $500,000 in damages along with attorneys’ fees for illegal termination on the basis of gender discrimination. The notice
also “reserves the right” to include invasion of privacy claims against three members of the Senate GOP leadership and two Senate staffers.

“Mr. Brodkorb has evidence that similarly situated female legislative employees, from both political parties, were not terminated from their employment positions despite intimate relationships with male legislators,” wrote Villaume in a letter dated March 13. “It is clear that Mr. Brodkorb was terminated based on his gender. He intends to depose all of the female legislative staff employees who participated in intimate relationships, as well as the legislators who were party to those intimate relationships, in support of his claims of gender discrimination.”

Brodkorb’s lawyer tried to say that the depositions would never ever become public as he was “sure” a judge would order that such information be kept confidential. But if the identities of those who would be giving depositions never became publicly known, then Brodkorb’s suit wouldn’t frighten the Republicans the way it does. (Yes, yes, the suit references persons of “both parties”, but just two months ago the Senate Republicans, on the pretext of budget-tightening, dumped nearly half of the full-time DFL legislative staffers while not firing a single Republican staffer. There are far more Republicans than Democrats remaining that are likely to be affected.) Cal Ludeman, the Secretary of the Senate and the person who actually fired Brodkorb from Brodkorb’s Senate job — which by the way was Brodkorb’s last official toehold on power at the State Capitol, he having bailed out of his Deputy RPM Chair job last October as his ally and RPM Chair Tony Sutton’s money scandals were catching up to both him and his buddies — responded to Brodkorb’s suit by calling it an attempt “to extort a payment” from the Minnesota Senate. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Is The MN GOP So Messed Up? Sutton Running Buddy Ben Golnik is Part of the Answer

2:51 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Lost in all the hubbub of the slow-motion trainwreck that is the Republican Party of Minnesota has been any evidence that anyone in charge is at all interested in getting to the root of its longstanding problems, and not just with money. Instead, the scandals are buried, the whistleblowers attacked, and the people who were in charge when the problems were created are allowed to go on doing what they’d been doing without any major hitches in their giddy-up.

Case in point: Way back in 2006, Dwight Tostenson, a staunch Republican and the RPM’s finance director at the time as well as its chief fundraiser, had tried to get then-party-chair Ron Carey to clean up the Minnesota GOP’s stinking messes — messes which included using for Party expenses the money intended for timely depositing into retirement accounts, understating debts (“$100,000 plus”) on reports to the FEC and to Minnesota’s state campaign finance agency, delayed payment of staff expense reports and commissions, and failure to make timely payments to vendors. (Gee, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)

Tostenson’s reward from the Party’s leadership? Per the memo he wrote them shortly after his “termination” as finance director in February 2007, a hard kick in the teeth:

I have been told that over the last few months that RPM legal counsel is working on a response to the issues brought to the Chairman’s attention. However, I was told not to contact Party Counsel regarding these issues. In a meeting with the Chairman and the Executive Director, Ben Golnik on Tuesday, November 28, just two weeks after I sent RPM Counsel the documentation, the Chairman informed me that my compensation package would no longer include commissions for major donors or a net dollar performance bonus structure for 2007. He informed me my total compensation pacakge would be reduced to a $75,000 per year salary with no bonuses or commissions. This is an amount less than I have earned in any year in the last decade. Using 2006 numbers it would be a decrease in compensation of about 40%.

The underlining is in the memo itself, as reproduced on the website of CREW, which used the memo as evidence in its 2007 FEC complaint against the Republican Party of Minnesota. (See also the graphic above.) Read the rest of this entry →

Down Goes Sutton! Down Goes Sutton! MNGOP Finally Rid of Its Worst Scandal Magnet

10:41 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Well, it’s finally happened — and leave it to Tony Sutton to wait until 4:21 on a Friday afternoon to announce it:

That’s right, gang: Tony Sutton, whose twisted saga has appeared at both FDL and MyFDL many times over the years, is no longer the Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota. He Tweeted his official letter of resignation at 5:00 pm, the time at which he stepped down from his post.

Why? The opening two sentences/paragraphs of this StarTribune story might give a slight hint (emphases mine):

Amid mounting evidence of party disarray and financial difficulties, Republican State Party Chairman Tony Sutton announced his resignation Friday.

“I have decided to resign as State Chair effective 5PM today. I have enjoyed being State Chair, but feel it is best for my family to move on,” he said on Twitter.

Now, about those words I bolded? I did that because they are a rare indication — and one that didn’t make it into the dead-tree version of the story — of the Strib’s coming close to admitting the depth and severity of the scandals that have for years surrounded Tony Sutton. The Strib might have published the odd story about the odd incident involving Sutton, but very little connecting of dots was done. It was left to others to connect the dots: the well-informed rural bloggers and the dirty hippie bloggers and the well-scrubbed non-hippie bloggers and the alt-media papers, they covered in depth what neither the StarTribune nor any other local establishment media (certainly not the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, a paper so Republican it makes the DJ-Tice-edited Strib look like the Guardian in comparison) would touch in more than a very superficial way.

Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about:

In this Strib story about the aftermath of Sutton’s sudden resignation, we are treated to seeing Sutton ally Michael Brodkorb (who was first limned here at FDL back in 2008 when he was still trying to claim he was an “independent blogger”) attacking 2010 Republican Party gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer and Emmer’s former campaign manager David FitzSimmons and blaming them for the party’s woes. What the story doesn’t mention is that Brodkorb, who himself suddenly resigned from his post as Sutton’s deputy back in October, has been one of Sutton’s closest allies, and with Sutton was held to be influencing if not outright controlling the actions of the leaders of the Republican legislative caucus to a degree unseemly in persons not elected to the legislature. Another thing we see in the story is FitzSimmons’ stating that the next party chair should be someone with business experience; what is not stated is that Tony Sutton himself has business experience — granted, the experience is in running a business into the ground, even with the millions upon millions of the Cooper banking family to back him up. (That reminds me: Even though Brodkorb was known since October of 2005 to be the man behind the local Republican blog “Minnesota Democrats Exposed”, all of the local establishment media, including the StarTribune, refused to admit that he had been outed, much less that he’d outed himself when he made a post by e-mail and published his e-mail address on his post. Only when he outed himself a second time did they admit that he was indeed behind MDE.)

The simple fact is that it was the persistence of the non-establishment media — the blogs both local and national, and the alt-weekly City Pages — that shed the most light on Tony Sutton’s actions. It is because of them that he has resigned in disgrace, leaving behind over $500,000 in debt and a deeply divided party. If not for them, he’d likely still be party chair today.

Minnesota Shutdown Coming to an End?

3:20 pm in Government by Phoenix Woman

The short version:

Minnesota governor Mark Dayton this morning offered the Republicans controlling the Minnesota Legislature a choice: He’d accept their June 30 proposal, which delays school payments and doesn’t tax the rich, on these three conditions:

– They dump all the ALEC-inspired social/policy agenda bullshit (including their own version of Scott Walker’s union-busting bill), crap which they’d spent the entire session pushing

– They drop their plan to cut state employee numbers by 15%

– They approve a $500 million bonding bill to put people back to work in Minnesota.

It took them several hours, but the Republican leadership decided that protecting the rich from more taxes was far more important than looking fiscally prudent or even gutting unions and pushing mandatory picture voter IDs.

The details will have to be worked out, and this is still a tentative framework, but (assuming Zellers and Koch — or rather, their leaders Tony Sutton and his deputy Michael Brodkrob, who dictate every breath Zellers and Koch take — can get the rest of the GOP caucus to agree) the shutdown is very likely going to end soon.

Think about it. They were so desperate to protect the rich that they actually agreed to dump ALL the Taliban legislation they’d been trying to push all session — the union-busting, the anti-stem-cell crap, the picture voter ID, all of it — along with any pretense that they were deficit hawks, just to keep Dayton from taxing the top .03% or 7,700 richest Minnesotans.

That tells you something.

By the way, Dayton’s not up for reelection until 2014, whereas the legislature’s all up for reelection next year.

And again, there is a chance that some of the wackier GOP freshmen might refuse to back this because all of the Taliban crap got stripped out. But it’ll probably go through, with GOP votes — the DFL will sit this one out most likely.

The Great and Powerful Brodkorb Has Spoken!

8:09 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Pay no attention to the boor behind the curtain!

Earlier this week, Doug Tice, the conservative editor of the StarTribune, published what was the mother of all chastisements to his fellow Republicans, Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton and his deputy Michael Brodkorb, warning them to stop with the boorish behavior or risk seeing Governor Dayton eat their lunch in the budget battle: “Sutton’s methods could help tilt the balance of public opinion in the governor’s favor at a time the GOP majority can ill-afford to lose support.”


Unfortunately for Messrs. Sutton and Brodkorb, they didn’t take the hint from Tice et al — Hey, bozoes, shut up or Dayton wins! — because Brodkorb has just asked for, and been granted, space in the Strib to dig his and Sutton’s holes even deeper, accusing Governor Dayton of icky behavior but somehow failing to quote anything by Governor Dayton, much less anything anywhere near as icky as the tripe Sutton and Brodkorb spew, one of whom was quoted at length and in context by the StarTribune’s editorial writer.

Tild of reveals the boor behind the curtain

Furthermore, much as humbug artist and former “independent blogger” Brodkorb would like to wish it otherwise, the StarTribune isn’t the only Minnesota paper whose editors are horrified at the Sutton-and-Brodkorb act. Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen’s reeled off a list of three major papers in Greater Minnesota who have scorched the Republican strategy, and the Republicans’ Fantasy Budget, in words that make the Strib’s seem downright gentle in comparison.

Face it, Broddie: Not even the Twin Cities media will be eating out of your hand much longer.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post and Mercury Rising.)

Tough Times at Tony Sutton’s Turkey Farm

6:47 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The trainwreck that is Tony Sutton's business career.

Remember back in September when, in discussing the ongoing trainwreck that is Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Tony Sutton’s Baja Sol franchise, I cited this article in a local business journal as an example of Sutton puffery?

[Tony's wife Bridget] Sutton said she wants to open as many as six Baja Sol Tortilla Grills in the next year and as many as 12 over the next two years. The first new store is scheduled to open at the Fountains of Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove on Oct. 4, replacing a recently closed location in downtown Minneapolis. (Chipotle is moving into that downtown space, read that story here.)The company allowed its lease at U.S. Bank Plaza to expire and will remodel its nearby location at City Center to accommodate extra traffic.

Well, the Baja Sol scheduled to open on October 4, wound up having its opening date pushed back to December 17, per its website page:

And guess what? It’s been pushed back yet again, this time to January, per Baja Sol’s Twitter feed — even as it was confirmed that another Baja Sol (the cantina in Eden Prairie or “EP”) that had been closed for remodeling for some months was not reopening:

Furthermore, as Sally Jo Sorensen of BSP Tweeted, yet another Baja Sol has shut its doors forever:

So, for the record, in the past three months, we’ve got two closed Baja Sols — both of which had been opened to grand fanfare just two years ago — and a Baja Sol whose opening’s been pushed back two times and three months, and which still isn’t open.

Where’s the big expansion promised back on September 13? And how long will the Coopers be willing to prop up Tony and Bridget’s turkey farm for right-wingers with questionable money skills? Inquiring minds want to know.

The Emmer Cat’s out of the Bag: Or, Who Would Jesus ID?

7:45 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

What Would MVA-Approved Election Judge Jesus Do?

Scuttlebutt locally has been that one reason the Republicans Tony Sutton and Tom Emmer will almost certainly break Emmer’s promise to “not participate in using the law just to delay things” when the recount’s done is because they want to see how many bad and evil bills they can get Pawlenty to sign with a brand-new Republican-controlled state legislature at his disposal, or if the skeevilly-prolonged Governor Gutshot will screw us all out of the Medicare buy-in with the new lege’s help. A e-mail recently sent out by the Republican-aligned mandatory-voter-ID group Minnesota Voters Alliance, or MVA, to its members lends some backing to this belief.

From the e-mail:

Dear Friend of Freedom,

For several years The Minnesota Voters Alliance has been working toward a PHOTO ID requirement for voting. The November election has provided a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to implement PHOTO ID statewide. With a republican controlled legislature, it will be much less difficult to get this vital voter protection measure passed – regardless of who the governor is!

We are working closely with Representative and former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who serves on our Board, to take a multi-faceted approach:

1. Introduce a bill for statewide PHOTO ID as a first priority. If Governor Pawlenty is still in office in January, he would undoubtedly sign it. If Dayton wins and is seated sooner rather than later, we are already preparing a campaign to urge him to sign the bill, including our PHOTO ID petition in St. Paul which we have nearly 3,000 signatures.

2. We have already begun laying the groundwork on a constitutional amendment to introduce PHOTO ID to the voters statewide to vote on. 82% of last Rasmussen poll support PHOTO ID requirement for voting. The Governor DOES NOT have to sign a constitutional amendment; it goes from the legislature directly to the voters!

The fact that Mary Kiffmeyer is a prominent backer and advisor to this group shows how tightly connected it is to the Republican power structure in Minnesota. Here’s why: . . .  Read the rest of this entry →

Boehner Bailout of the Clown Car: NRCC Going Into Hock To Waste Money Against Tim Walz, Among Others

7:18 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

No matter how much the corporate GOP-friendly media tries to cover for Republicans, it’s kinda hard to project the appearance of an unstoppable juggernaut when you have to go into hock to do it. Yet, according to The Politico — and a hat tip to Bluestem Prairie for the link — that’s exactly what the National Republican Congressional Committee is planning:

POLITICO has learned that the National Republican Congressional Committee will take a bank loan of at least $6.5 million — but likely more — to expand its ad buys into seven additional districts beyond the 55 where the committee has already reserved time

According to an NRCC source familiar with the effort, the newly added targets include five Democrats whose districts, until recently, were thought to be out of reach this year: Reps. Tim Walz of Minnesota, Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Phil Hare of Illinois, Zack Space of Ohio and John Salazar of Colorado.

Heh. Can’t vouch for Bishop, Hare, or Salazar, but the money they’re spending on Space and Walz might as well be flushed down a toilet. Space is still the favorite in his race and has a ton of money to boot.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

No Justice? No Tacos! SEIU Local 26 Calls Out Minnesota GOP’s Fast-Food King on SB1070

4:01 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The local SEIU unit has taken notice of the fact that Baja Sol, a local "fresh Mex" fast food chain, is owned and franchised by Tony Sutton, who is the chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

They’ve been going around pointing out that the RPM has lined up behind SB1070, with Tom Emmer, the anointed RPM candidate, calling it "a wonderful first step".


Tony Sutton is also the chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party and he and the Republican candidate for Governor support anti-immigration legislation like Arizona’s SB1070. Tony Sutton and others like him are making money from Latino culture, but backing policies that hurt thousands of hardworking Minnesota families.

No justice? No tacos!

(By the way: The peso note is courtesy of Tild of Tildology fame. Other works of hers can be found here. )