Cigar Trouble

My investigations of the Upper Great Lakes scandal has taken me on some unexpected turns as well as a trip down memory lane.

I ran for the legislature in 1976 when I was just a pup. The Republicans paid little attention to me because I was running on the DFL side of the city. An ambitious young man, Thomas Berkelman, approached the Republicans and asked for their endorsement for Duluth’s marginally Republican district. They turned him down because they had already pinned their hopes to a local television commentator so Berkelman got the DFL endorsement instead.

It turns out that one of the Upper Great Lakes Commission’s secretaries spent close to two full months working on Tom’s campaign out of the UGRLC office. Paid help was something the GOP couldn’t have offered Tom and he was elected to the House of Representatives. While there he met a young Republican legislator, Kathleen Blatz, and married her. She was subsequently appointed Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court by Republican, Governor Arne Carlson.

In 1971 Berkelman, now a lobbyist, was arrested outside a tobaconnist shop and found with cigars that he hadn’t paid for on his person. A video camera showed him pocketing the cigars. After an embarassing trial (he was the husband of the State’s Chief Justice) Berkelman was aquitted.

The Chief Justice, who recently retired, has since remarried Wheelock Whitney the Republican candidate for Governor in 1982 who challenged Rudy Perpich.

It’s funny but I just discovered that Rudy was eager to kill the Upper Great Lakes Commission in 1977. I wonder if it had any thing to do with all the help that the UGRLC gave Jim Oberstar in 1974 in defeating the DFL nominee for Congress, Tony Perpich, the Governor’s brother?