Wide stances and ex-gay friends

Ex-senator wants to use campaign funds for legal defense, while a current representative parades his ex-gay friend on the House floor

Folks gave dough to GOP Sen. Larry Craig because they believed in his politics and wanted to help continue his career in the U.S. Senate. Instead, they might end up paying lawyers to argue that Craig really does have one of the widest bathroom stall stances known to man.

Craig wants to use campaign funds to foot the bill for the $216,000 he has spent trying to get the misdemeanor charge he pleaded guilty to in August 2007 removed from his record. But during a hearing in U.S. District Court this week, Judge Amy Berman Jackson sounded less than persuaded by the reasoning Craig and his counsel employed.

Craig and his legal team argue that because his June 2007 MSP arrest happened during the course of a Senate-related trip from Idaho and D.C., the use of campaign funds for his legal defense is fair game. And although there is precedent for that sort of use of campaign funds, it sounds like Judge Berman Jackson is leaning toward making Craig open his own pocketbook to pay for his pricey defense.

Sure, many Americans argue our political process has gone down the toilet, but Craig's argument really does seem like a stretch. After all, in many cases, Republicans aren't exactly known as being accepting and tolerant when it comes to the gay lifestyle. So the majority of Craig's funders can't be pleased with the way the disgraced ex-Senator wants to spend their hard-earned cash.

Meet my ex-gay friend

This legislative session, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, has emerged as Minnesota's leading critic of the "gay lifestyle" and everything that follows from it, including the desire to get married.

At a news conference last month, Gruenhagen characterized homosexuality as "an unhealthy, sexual addiction." Then, during a speech on the House floor last week, he said the undermining of "traditional marriage" has resulted in an untenable situation where the government is allegedly paying minority "welfare" recipients to have more and more children.

But Gruenhagen may have outdone himself this week, when he used a "point of personal privilege" on the House floor to introduce an ex-gay friend who allegedly turned straight and did the all-American thing — got married and had some kids.

Anyway, after that fiasco went down, MNGOP House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt issued this statement: "Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen's comments today on the floor were inappropriate, and it was not the proper use of a point of personal privilege."

It was easily the smelliest extra-curricular thing to happen at the Capitol since MNGOP Rep. Ernie Leidiger invited Bradlee Dean to deliver an outrageous anti-Obama speech on the House floor nearly two years ago.

The rent is too damn high

A new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition concludes that 55 percent of renters in the state can't afford a market-rate two-bedroom apartment, making Minnesota the most unaffordable state in the Midwest for renters for the third year in a row.

Last year's version of the annual study found that the statewide market rate for a two-bedroom is $821 a month. This year, that number has risen to $836. In order to pay that much and not spend more than 30 percent of your income on rent, you'd have to make $16.08 per hour and work full-time.

Last year, by comparison, the "housing wage" was $15.79. (The numbers somewhat strangely assume that an individual pays the entire cost of a two-bedroom on their own. Get a roommate or a one-bedroom and things become more affordable.)

Bottom line, it's only getting more expensive. Thanks a lot, developers of fancy, shiny new apartment buildings.

 
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