Foreign steel dispute: McFadden campaign calls hypocrisy on DFL lawmakers

By KBJR News 1

August 15, 2014 Updated Aug 16, 2014 at 9:30 AM CDT

VIRGINIA, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- Iron Range Democrats are fired up over Sen. Al Franken's Republican opponent's remarks on being open to using foreign steel for building the Keystone XL Pipeline.

"I think this is a real serious issue that impacts a lot of working families here on the Range," said DFL State Representative Carly Melin in a news conference Friday.

Iron Range Democrats joined the political firestorm aimed at a statement Mike McFadden made about foreign steel last week.

During Farm Fest, Mike McFadden reportedly told reporters he would support building the Keystone XL Pipeline with Chinese steel over U.S. steel if it were cheaper.

"This election cycle they have tried to put their claim on being the party of mining and they claim they want to cut the red tape," said DFL State Representative Jason Metsa. "But McFadden's statements made clear what they really want is to send our jobs abroad."

If you ask the McFadden campaign, that is not true.

McFadden's spokesman, Tom Erickson, said the DFL lawmaker's news conference was a case of political hypocrisy; pointing to Melin's and Rukavina's votes on a bill that will build the new Viking's Stadium with steel made overseas.

"The Democrats, the attack dogs out to go after Mike McFadden, both supported the Vikings stadium. Which as we all know includes 20 percent use of foreign steel; something that Tom Rukavina himself has called sinful," Erickson said. "So, it reeks of hypocrisy to have these Democrats out there today attack Mike McFadden for something they've done themselves."

The Iron Range Democrats say that is not the whole story.

"We contacted just about every American company to see if they could make it and they couldn't," Melin said. "But it's a part of the Viking's stadium. it has to be American steel – most of the Viking stadium has to be American steel."

In our report Thursday evening, the McFadden campaign criticized Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) over his vote for an amendment that the McFadden campaign said would allow the Keystone XL Pipeline to be built with foreign steel under certain conditions.

"There were two votes on the pipeline that day in what the Senate calls a side-by-side: two bills that achieve the same end result, but have different ways to get there," said Franken spokesperson Alexandra Fetissoff. "The difference in this case was using American steel."

"Of the two bills Al had the choice to vote for, one had the American Steel requirement and one didn't," Fetissoff said. "Plain and simple, Al voted for American steel. Was their a waiver that was unlikely to be hit? Yes. But the point is that he took the vote to stand up for American Steel and Iron Range jobs."

According to the Franken campaign, the 25 percent cost increase waiver provision in the Franken-backed amendment likely would not apply.

The Franken campaign said experts claim foreign steel Is only 10% cheaper when shipping costs are factored in total cost.

Nick Minock