We noted after the death of the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone that this famous champion of the little guy, scourge of corporate interests, illegally failed to procure workers’ compensation insurance for his campaign’s employees. The four employees who perished in the airplane crash along with Wellstone and his wife were therefore uninsured.
The Wellstone campaign subsequently reached a “settlement” with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, whereby the campaign agreed to pay $400,000 and the remaining amount due — estimated at around $600,000 — was to be picked up by the taxpayers, courtesy of a fund for employees whose employers break the law by failing to obtain the required coverage or to properly self-insure.
Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken is a guy who casts himself as being in the Wellstone mold, and he may be, at least in this one respect. It now turns out that Franken owes a $25,000 penalty to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees of his namesake corporation (Alan Franken Inc.) from 2002 to 2005. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, New York officials have made numerous attempts to contact Franken about the matter since April 2005 but have gotten no reply.
Franken claims that he was unaware of the matter before Tuesday, when it was brought to light in a series of posts at Minnesota Democrats Exposed. Franken’s campaign spokesman told the Star Tribune’s Kevin Duchschere that Franken and his wife have lived in Minneapolis for the past few years and did not know about the state’s attempts to reach them in New York City.
Is that right? Maybe. But the evasion attempted by his campaign spokesman is misleading at best. I attended a Minnesota Democratic fundraiser on June 11, 2005, at which Franken was the featured speaker. I posted my account of the event and of Franken’s talk in “Saturday Night Live with Al Franken.” My account relates Franken’s statement that Franken was in the process of buying a condominium in Minneapolis in order to relocate himself from New York. Franken had not at the time made the move from New York to Minneapolis.
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