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Al Franken's worst nightmare: Conservative bloggers

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 2, 2008 09:00 AM

Two years ago, Radio Equalizer blogger Brian Maloney blew open the Air America financial scandals–embarrassing both Al Franken and the laggard MSM. Maloney continues to publish must-read blogging on the media, talk radio, and liberal double standards. (See here for his latest on the MSM’s disparate treatment of Rush vs. Roseanne.)

Another conservative blogger has been doing yeomen’s work in Minnesota dogging Franken and doing the investigative work the MSM won’t do. He’s Michael Brodkorb of Minnesota Democrats Exposed. I’ve pointed you to his work previously here and here. Now, the national MSM is catching up:

Senate candidate Al Franken wants to talk about jobs, health care and global warming. Republican blogger Michael Brodkorb wants to talk about Franken’s failure to pay all his income taxes on time.

Guess what everyone is talking about?

From the kitchen table in his tranquil suburban neighborhood, Brodkorb for the last year has used his blog “Minnesota Democrats Exposed” to launch a furious political assault on Franken. He’s labeled the former comedian and liberal commentator a “mean-spirited and un-Minnesotan” candidate who’s running a “desperate and ridiculous” campaign.

That’s routine stuff in the world of political blogging, but in the last two months Brodkorb has scored two direct hits that have the Franken campaign reeling. Brodkorb scooped the traditional media by detailing extensive bookkeeping problems in New York and California that ultimately prompted Franken, this week, to pay about $70,000 in back taxes to 17 states.

The stories have knocked Franken off balance as he prepares to take on Sen. Norm Coleman, in what’s expected to be one of the most expensive and toughest-fought U.S. Senate races this year.

Democrats have tried to downplay Brodkorb by portraying him as part of coordinated Republican attacks.

“When people talk about the right wing noise machine, that’s what it is,” said Franken spokesman Andy Barr.

But even some of his harshest critics admit Brodkorb, who has no real counterweight on the left, has been effective.

A typical Brodkorb scoop is splashed across his Web site under bold- faced banners like “Shock!” or “Breaking News!” The items are often followed soon after by a news release from the state Republican Party on the same subject, and many of his themes find their way into Coleman’s talking points.

In person, Brodkorb is a dark-haired, soft-spoken and polite 34-year- old whose infant twin daughters sometimes nap not far from his laptop.

…Brodkorb’s critics suggest some of his best stories are leaked from Republican campaigns, the state party and Republican-affiliated groups as part of a coordinated effort against Democrats. That includes Dave Colling, who managed the 2006 congressional campaign of Keith Ellison, a regular Brodkorb target.

“It’s about making them talk about something they don’t necessarily want to talk about,” Colling said.

Brodkorb won’t detail his methods, except to say he “gets tips all the time from Democrats and Republicans” and independently researches them before posting anything.

Brodkorb wouldn’t reveal how he first got the notion to check up on Franken’s business dealings in New York and California, but said simple searches on government Web sites delivered the goods: New York had levied a $25,000 judgment against Franken’s private corporation for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and the corporation was in forfeiture in California.

Brodkorb often covers news conferences and other planned political events, but does most of his blogging from his home in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan.

Kudos to Brodkorb for afflicting the comfortable through good, old-fashioned journalism in a 21st-century medium. May he continue to provide Franken with many more sleepless nights.

***

Related: Scott Johnson at Power Line notes the beginning of a cover-up:

Observers naturally want to know how if Franken’s tax problems result from an oversight or something more serious, and whether they are confined to the period acknowledged so far (2003-2006). Franken has refused to release his tax returns and filed for an extension on his 2007 return.

Franken has blamed the problems on Allen Chanzis, his New York accountant. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Franken said Chanzis told him he needed to pay taxes only in states where he lived.

Yesterday the Star Tribune contacted Chanzis to get his side of the story, but the Star Tribune found that Franken seems to have been one step ahead of them. Someone had already instructed Chanzis not to talk with reporters…

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