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Lindell’s ‘Prove Mike Wrong Challenge’ Backfires to Tune of $5M

More crazed beardo lawmaker antics, rent control battles in Minneapolis, and a local weed timeline in today's Flyover.

4:44 PM CDT on April 20, 2023

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Lindell, seen here (very much alive!) and napping on one of his famous pillows.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

My Pillow Man Fails as Gamblin' Man

Election conspiracy connoisseur Mike Lindell asked someone to prove him wrong. So someone did, and now he owes that guy millions of dollars. It all began at Lindell’s chaotic 2021 cyber symposium in Sioux Falls, where he shared data that he believed showed voting machine fraud. The event eventually caught the eye of the FBI, which obtained a warrant to seize his phone (a situation that may or may not have gone down in a Hardee's parking lot). During the event, Lindell also announced his “Prove Mike Wrong Challenge," offering $5 million to anyone who could prove his alleged 2020 election data was bunk.

Well, Trump supporter Robert Zeidman actually did, determining that the 11 files had nothing to do with the 2020 election. When Lindell refused to pay, Zeidman lawyered up, and now a private arbitration panel has determined he’s owed the prize money. “This will all end up in court,” Lindell vowed to VICE News. In fact, the arbitration panel is now part of his grand election conspiracy narrative: "It's all part of a bigger cover up and we got to get rid of the electronic voting machines.” Sigh. Zeidman may never receive his winnings either way; Lindell claims he has taken out millions of dollars in loans to keep his Minnesota-based pillow company afloat and to fight all the election-related lawsuits against him, including Dominion’s $1.3 billion case.

Big-Bearded Senator Big-Time Bigot

When we last heard from Sen. Nathan Wesenberg (R-Little Falls), the Minnesota lawmaker was bragging about calling the cops on drag shows. Well, Minnesota Reformer did a little digging, and it turns out the human Jan. 6 vision board behaves that way with regularity. Last week Wesenberg met with Milaca School District teachers to discuss the dry topic of special ed funding. The state senator wasn't pleased with how the meeting went, apparently: He booted the teachers out and claimed they're “teaching kids to be gay and to hate white people," the Reformer's Michelle Griffith reports. Wesenberg's verbal hissy fit began, the teachers say, when he learned the shocking truth that his constituents... belong to the teachers union. “We were not there to antagonize, and we were just going there to give our spiel and be done, and he was on the attack," Milaca math teacher Dave Leom told the Reformer.

Wesenberg declined to be interviewed, though he illuminated his thoughts in his weekly newsletter, writing that Education Minnesota is “flushing our education down the toilet" and teaching sex ed in "pornographic ways." He claimed the ill-fated meeting ended due to the teachers "loudly yelling" and attacking Christianity; the teachers claim Wesenberg got so worked up about gender-paranoid GOP hobbyhorse issues that he almost got physical. The educators ended up having a 40-minute, "very cordial" discussion with another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Isaac Schultz (R-Elmdale Township), though they say they're still being harassed online by Wesenberg supporters. “It’s frustrating because, even with our stories out there, I just think that social media is going to still not believe us anyways,” math teacher/local union prez Joe Wenner tells the Reformer.

Can Rent Control Happen in Minneapolis?

Earlier this week, key City Hall staffers issued a report advising strongly against rent control in Minneapolis, saying it would paradoxically increase rents by discouraging construction. (Though, as Ward 9 Council Member Jason Chavez points out, the group failed to consult the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, whose research has discovered “little empirical evidence to show that rent control policies negatively impact new construction.”) These staffers’ findings echo the sentiments of their boss, Mayor Jacob Frey, who seems poised to veto any rent control measure that passes City Council. Council, in turn, would have a hard time mustering the nine votes to override that veto. So, is rent control totally off the table for now? Possibly not. Kyle Stokes at MinnPost has a good overview of the competing proposals and the possibilities being considered. For instance, Ward 1 council member Elliott Payne thinks Frey can be convinced to allow the matter to be voted on directly. That sounds overly optimistic from where we’re sitting, but it’d still be worth forcing Frey to take a stand on that issue.

A Minnesota Weed Timeline

Well, it just wouldn’t be Marijuana Day without a weedy little blurb here in the ol’ Flyover. So let us direct your attention to Steve Marsh’s “A Brief History of Marijuana in Minnesota” timeline in Minnesota/St. Paul Magazine. (Weed content—it isn’t just for lowlife alt-journalism websites anymore!) We begin in 1880, when “the Minneapolis Journal publishes a lurid account of an anonymous local doctor who claims to have treated a lady hasheesh eater right here in the Twin Cities” and end (for now) in 2022, with the state legalizing delta-9 THC edibles. Minnesota notables who show up along the way include railroad magnate James J. Hill, guy who left here Bob Dylan, and Gov. Wendell Anderson.

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