Karl Bremer on Bradlee Dean, Michele Bachmann's pastor problem [Interview]
For more than 10 years, blogger Karl Bremer has been doggedly chronicling the misadventures of Minnesota's craziest politician, Michele Bachmann.
Now that Bachmann's presidential candidacy has earned her national media attention, Bremer says he's been inundated with calls from news outlets inquiring about his work.
Last fall, the Bachmann trail led Bremer to Annandale pastor Bradlee Dean. He's since become such a nuisance to Dean that the controversial minister once called the Washington County sheriff and complained about Bremer.
Bremer has written extensively about Dean's ties to Glen Stoll, a tax lawyer from Edmonds, Washington who was served with a federal injunction in 2005 for giving illegal tax advice. City Pages also reported on the relationship between Dean and Stoll in this week's feature, The Benediction of Bradlee Dean.
We sat down with Bremer earlier this week to discuss Bachmann and Dean, and whether their relationship will hurt Bachmann's presidential aspirations.
City Pages: As someone has written extensively about Michele Bachmann, what's your take on the national media coverage she's been receiving?
Karl Bremer: Well, they're starting to cover the stories that we've been covering out in the hinterland for the last decade, and stories that the mainstream media have been ignoring. I mean, the Bachmann clinic story has been no secret. Anybody who knows how to get online can find bloggers and stories and things about the Bachmann business affairs. It's been right under their nose all these years. And it's one that we could have done, but you only have so much time and so many stories.
CP: She's been doing pretty well in the polls. What are the odds of her sustaining that and getting the nomination?
KB: You know, I'm probably one of those that has underestimated her in the past, and I'm just kind of shaking my head. She certainly has a base out there, but I guess I look at -- compare the situation of Iowa versus the rest of the country to the Sixth District versus the rest of Minnesota. Bachmann can certainly win elections in the Sixth District because of its gerrymandered nature -- but of course that's going to change in the next election. But most people agree, Republicans and Democrats, that Bachmann could never win a statewide race in Minnesota.
I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. You're talking about Republican primaries, and the state of the Republican party now, it's kind of like the old blues line, "I've been down so long it looks up to me." It's like, you've been right so long it looks left to me.
CP: She's been at the center of a lot of controversies, she's gotten a lot of critical press. Are there one or two issues you think are really going to hurt her when the campaigns ramp up?
KB: I think some of these extreme social positions out in the broader populus aren't going to play real well. She had sort of moved away from the gay marriage issue, which she at one time called an "earthquake issue" and she was the tip of the spear on it and all that. And you know, she saw public opinion starting to move away from that position so she kind of abandoned that and went on to other things, like light bulbs. She's kinda' back on that now. I don't know, maybe that's where the Republican Party and Tea Party are heading, but I see it going the other way. Towards marriage equality, not towards marriage bigotry.
CP: We did a story a couple years ago on the strategy of Michele Bachmann. A lot of people think of her as someone who's not incredibly bright. And there's another school of thought where she's sort of a genius in her own way, and this is all part of that genius. Do you have an opinion on that?
KB: Well, she knows how to appeal to that base.
I guess she's pretty adept at spotting a strong horse to hitch her wagon to. She hasn't done it on her legislative accomplishments. I mean, not in the State Senate, not in Congress. She gives, for some I guess, a good red meat speech. But really, when you get down to her policies, what does she represent?
CP: Let's shift gears to Bradlee Dean. What first put you on the Dean trail?
KB: His relationship with Bachmann. There's been connections in the past with her and her prayer for him and his love expressed for her on his radio show and so forth.
When I looked at his tax forms on Guidestar, and then I went over to the Attorney General's Office and looked through every document they had over there on his files, and things just didn't add up. He quotes a half million dollars from fucking card tables set up at Walmart? I mean, come one.
CP: Do you think Bradlee is going to be Bachmann's "pastor problem," as some have theorized?
KB: Yeah I do. Because I do know that there are some national reporters looking into him right now.
CP: You've written pretty critically about Bradlee. Is there one thing that sticks out to you the most?
KB: The income. You look online. You went to his church, four people [were there]...This is a million dollar operation? In their 990s they indicate they don't get that much from schools anymore. You know, I think the word's out on that gig. So I don't know, it's kind of mysterious.
CP: Bradlee talks a lot about the media's unfair coverage of him. He says reporters are targeting him unfairly, and purposely taking his quotes out of context. Do you believe this is total paranoia? Or have some people put a target on him?
KB: When you're an outspoken minister of bigotry and hate, of course you're going to be a target. He's not out there preaching the gospel of Jesus. I mean, I'm not a religious guy, but I know that much. He filed a report with the Washington County Sheriff on me. Well, if you have an issue with public records, then you shouldn't own property. And if he doesn't want to be in the public eye, he shouldn't be bellowing at the podium at the House of Representatives in a track suit.
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