The DFL’s PR nightmare

One of the things coming out of the MNsure debacle is that the DFL legislature, especially the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee’s co-chairs, ran interference for Gov. Dayton. The MNsure scandal will be the DFL’s defeat next November, thanks in no small part to the legislative auditor’s investigation into why the launch failed, who knew in advance it would fail and why the MNsure Board didn’t alert Gov. Dayton or the Oversight Committee.

These aren’t tiny things. They can’t be categorized as glitches, either. These are major problems that should’ve been reported even though they’d cause political damage. GOP Sen. Sean Nienow raised questions back in September about MNsure’s data security. GOP Sen. Michelle Benson raised questions about MNsure’s priorities, questioning April Todd-Malmlov’s management abilities.

Prior to a committee meeting in September, Sen. Nienow said that he had 40 questions about data security. At the meeting, Ms. Todd-Malmlov said she didn’t have the answers to Sen. Nienow’s question. Instead, she promised to get the answers for him. Three months later, she kept her promise. It isn’t likely she would’ve kept her promise if it wasn’t for the fact that KSTP was going to run an article about data security that night.

Sen. Benson questioned Ms. Todd-Malmlov’s priorities. Specifically, she asked why Ms. Todd-Malmlov started the MNsure ad campaign before she put the training programs in place or made sure the sensitive data was secured. That’s proof of Ms. Todd-Malmlov’s incompetence.

Unfortunately, incompetence isn’t the reason why Oversight Committee co-chairs Rep. Joe Atkins and Sen. Tony Lourey didn’t hold hearings in October, November and December. The problems that Sen. Nienow worried about in September came to fruition in October. Worst of all, they weren’t fixed in November or December.

Meanwhile, Rep. Atkins appeared on several shows, including the Capitol Report in September and Almanac in December. In fact, during his September appearance on Capitol report, he said he was confident everything would work well when MNsure launched.

Rep. Atkins’ happy talk might buy the DFL a little time to get MNsure running but it won’t buy them much time to fix MNsure. Meanwhile, Minnesotans will be upset that the Democrats’ happy talk was meant to buy political cover for Gov. Dayton. Most importantly, Minnesotans don’t like major problems being swept under the rug. They’d rather know that the problems are getting fixed.

Apparently, Democrats, whether it’s Ms. Todd-Malmlov, Rep. Atkins, Sen. Lourey or Gov. Dayton think it’s more important to start the PR machine than to get the essentials fixed. The DFL’s decision to work on MNsure’s PR campaign rather than get MNsure working tells Minnesotans that their priorities aren’t right.

Minnesotans deserve things that work, not things with cute commmercials.