BEST GADFLY Minneapolis 2000 -
Leslie Davis is no stranger to headlines, having leaped headlong into such high-profile causes as the anti-logging fight in northern Minnesota, the battle against the garbage burner in Minneapolis, and the acrimonious fight against the rerouting of Hiawatha Avenue. But as a 1998 write-in candidate for governor, the founder and president of the environmental organization Earth Protector seldom showed up on the media radar. In the best gadfly tradition, Davis was not disheartened and, last fall, he sank a live one into his former campaign foe, Gov. Jesse Ventura. In Davis's view, Ventura's lucrative moonlighting gigs--the I Ain't Got Time to Bleed book deal/tour and a guest-referee appearance at the World Wrestling Federation's Summer Slam--violated a conflict-of-interest law that bars state employees from unduly profiting from their public position. Davis's research unearthed an intriguing memo written by a state ethics official who shared his concerns. In short order, the salesman-turned-activist was demanding a recall and faxing his complaints to everyone he could think of--the state auditor, the attorney general, along with the Ramsey and Hennepin county attorneys. Rebuffed at each turn, he ultimately abandoned the cause. But not for long: In April, the 63-year-old north Minneapolis resident announced his intention to seek the endorsement of Ventura's very own Independence Party in a bid for Rod Grams's U.S. Senate seat.