State legislative candidate Mark Fotsch, of Roseville, said Friday he doesn't plan to participate in any debates hosted by the League of Women Voters this fall because the organization is taking stands against the proposed Marriage and Voter ID constitutional amendments.
In a letter to the editor to Roseville Patch, the Republican candidate for new state House District 66A asserted the League's positions on the Marriage amendment and the Voter ID measure are in sync with the state Democratic Party's platform. The Marriage Amendment would define marriage as only being between a man and woman while the Voter ID amensment would require that citizens have photo ID in order to vote.
"They (the League) have truly moved to support the DFL Party in Minnesota and should no longer be considered “non-partisan"," Fotsch contended.
But Laura Wang, executive director of the League of Women Voters Minnesota, defended her organization, insisting it is non-partisan but has studied many issues and taken positions on them over its 92-year history.
"We do not – and never have – considered the positions of political parties or candidates for office when we arrive at our positions." Wang said in a statement. "It is beyond our control if one party or another finds themselves in agreement with the positions that we have held for decades."
Earlier Friday, Patch posted a story about the League's Roseville-Maplewood-Falcon Heights (RoMaFH) chapter's plans to host a forum on the two proposed amendments on Sept. 18 at the Roseville city maintenance building. Click here to see that story,
Fotsch is facing Alice Hausman, a current DLF state House iegislator, in the new District 66A, the result of legislative redistricting last spring.( To read more about Fotsch's candidacy, see this Patch story.)
Here is Fotsch's full letter to the editor:
The League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWVMN) is now soliciting requests for candidate debates in Roseville and Saint Paul. The League of Women Voters claims to be a non-partisan political organization, encouraging the informed and active participation in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
However, their stance on every ballot amendment this November is in full support of the Democratic Party’s platform. They oppose the Voter ID amendment and they filed as the Lead Plaintiff in Petition Challenging Voter ID Ballot Language. LWVMN also partners with Parents United for Public Schools, which is a heavily Democrat-leaning organization. This is very different for an organization that once was actually non-partisan when it formed on October 29, 1919.
I am a candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives who looks forward to a few debates with my opponent this fall. However, I will not participate in any debates hosted by the League of Women Voters. They have truly moved to support the DFL Party in Minnesota and should no longer be considered “non-partisan.” And that is a tremendous shame.
But Wang, in her statement, countered, "It is important to note that requirement that nonprofit organizations be nonpartisan does not preclude them from taking positions on issues or advocating for those positions. Quite the contrary – many nonprofit organizations have taken policy positions based on the experiences of the people they serve and their members, and they can play a valuable role in issue debates.
"They are, however, forbidden to use their resources to support or oppose parties or candidates for office, which LWV Minnesota never has done and never will," Wang concluded.