Republican Lawmaker Says League of Women Voters Has Become Biased and a “Disappointment”


TOM STROMME/Tribune Sen. Judy Lee (R-West Fargo) speaks of the benefits of good dental access and in support of HB 1256, a bill dealing with the issue at a press conference in Memorial Hall of the state capitol in Bismarck on Wednesday afternoon. Bill supporters in back from left are Jenna Herman, Christy Jo Fogarty, of the Minnesota Childrens Dental Services, Renee Stromme, Rep. Christopher Olson (R-West Fargo), Dianne Billey, Connie Kalanek and Michael Hamilton.

UPDATE: Comments from the League included below.

Senator Judy Lee, a Republican lawmaker from Fargo, is disputing what she says are claims from the League of Women Voters that she urged a boycott of their upcoming candidate forums.

She wrote about it in a Facebook post last night, describing the League’s forums as “poorly run” and claiming they scheduled the event for her district at a time when she had legislative work to attend to in Bismarck:

I checked the website for the Red River Valley chapter of the League and saw they have a number of forums scheduled for late September through mid-October. The event for Lee’s District 13 is scheduled for October 3.

I checked the schedule for the interim committees Lee serves on and didn’t see any meetings scheduled for the 3rd, but when I contacted her about it directly she said not every meeting she has to attend is on the Legislative website.

“I have Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review from 9-11:45 and a nursing home reimbursement task force meeting from 11-5 on October 3,” she told me this morning via email. “I will not get home until about 8 p.m.”

“The League also apparently looked at the legislative calendar and saw that the LAFRC meeting is scheduled to end at 11:45,” Lee told me. “Because they are unaware of all of the other work that we do and that only state committee meetings are on the calendar, they think that I am sandbagging on the forum.”

Lee says she’s not avoiding the event, despite her criticism of them. “I like forums! I want more people to attend them. I want our constituents to see and hear from all of the candidates in each district and make their decisions accordingly,” she said. She went on to say that the League has become one-sided in its political perspective, and that any claims she was avoiding the event are inappropriate:

I belonged to the League of Women Voters for 35 years and helped establish the chapter in Wahpeton, when our family lived there. It used to be a great organization which researched issues and, when consensus might be reached, would take positions on them. They have never taken positions on candidates. However, as more women moved into the workforce, there was less time for all of us to do the research, so in recent years, the Fargo-Moorhead chapter has relied on speakers. It is no longer looking at all viewpoints or following the earlier policies about people in leadership in the LWV not being in leadership in their political parties. For a member to contact at least 3 media people, accusing me of orchestrating a boycott of the Fargo forum, is absolutely inappropriate.

I sent an email to the email account listed for the League on their website but so far haven’t received a response.

UPDATE: A representative of the League of Women Voters, co-President Rachel Hoffman, contacted me this morning and disputed Senator Lee’s claims.

“There was no request to reschedule” the District 13 forum, Hoffman told me, though she conceded that the League didn’t follow up with Lee about an alternate date. “That was the date we had,” she told me.

Hoffman also said she had “no idea” who, if anyone, from the League may have been speaking to the media asserting that Lee was urging a boycott of the forums. “The League of Women Voters is not accusing anyone of anything,” she said.