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Paul Dorr and the Right to Lie

liars.jpgLast week, in the wake of the defeat of a school levy in the Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale, the leaders of the victorious anti-levy forces showed their true level of classiness by suing the State of Minnesota.


Because according to state law, campaign literature on school referenda is not allowed to have factual untruths — or what we know as lies. And for some reason, that really bothers the anti-school-levy people:

An anti-levy group whose tactics were described by Robbinsdale’s superintendent as “racist, without conscience and untruthful” filed suit against the state Thursday, claiming its First Amendment rights have been violated.

The 281 CARE Committee, whose campaign helped defeat tax levy for the Robbinsdale School District on Tuesday, sued the state over its statute that bans factual distortions relating to school referendums.


The suit, against the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings and not a school district, was filed jointly by the 281 CARE (Citizens Acting for Responsible Education) and the W.I.S.E. Citizen Committee that opposed a levy in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District. The suit went to federal court to preempt an expected suit by Robbinsdale Superintendent Stan Mack and the Robbinsdale district, said attorney Erick Kaardal, of Minneapolis, who represents the two anti-levy groups.


In a press release, 281 CARE and W.I.S.E. said that its rights had been violated because of the “enforcement of Minnesota’s statute banning false speech relating to school bond levy referenda.”

Get that? They’re saying that defamation is protected free speech — at least when they’re doing it.

But of course, they almost certainly didn’t dream up this outrage on their own. They had to have had help — outside help. Hmmm. Now who could that have been?

Paul Dorr, the Iowa consultant who helped organize the Robbinsdale anti-referendum campaign and has helped sink dozens of school levy and bond referendums in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri and Minnesota, said he didn’t think there was anything racist about the Robbinsdale campaign. But he said he distanced himself from the effort because of his involvement in U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.

“Distance” is an interesting word, considering this:

Ron Stoffel, of Crystal, the treasurer and only 281 CARE member whose name appears on the lawsuit, said Thursday the group declined to comment. Mack said he had met Stoffel last week and described him as an accountant.

Jackie Wells, a parent from Golden Valley, said she was so “disturbed” by Monday’s phone call and the implication that “all problems come from open enrollment” and postcards’ insinuations that “$5.5 million could be saved by throwing out 1,000 students” that she called Dorr, the Iowa consultant.

If Dorr had really distanced himself from this shameful campaign, then how did Jackie Wells know to call him up and ask him about his role in it?

The right-wing Dorr has been known for years nationwide as an enemy of public education. (For that matter, so is Ron Paul.) His goals look to be similar to those of Grover Norquist’s and the other anti-tax people: To “starve the beast” of public goverment so that private industry can take over what they deem to be monetarily profitable, and junk what they don’t.

As for the accusations of racism constantly levied (pardon the pun) at Paul Dorr, it would seem that it runs in the family: His brother, Tom Dorr, was George W. Bush’s pick to head the USDA’s Rural Development branch, but he was confirmed only after he apologized in public for several bigoted outbursts he had made over the years, as well as for ripping off the USDA via abusing its public-subsidy program on his own farm. Such charming, classy people, eh?

Here’s the crowning irony:

According to documents filed with the Robbinsdale district, the 281 CARE Committee spent more than $9,000 in advertising on a billboard, lawn signs and professional services by mid-October, in its campaign against the levy. At least two citizens contributed $2,500 apiece.

“That’s more than they would have spent over the years, had the referendum been passed,” Smothers said.

(Graphic edited from a photo submitted to Flickr under a Creative Commons license by darinmarshall.)

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