When Teabaggers Turn on Each Other: The Emmer-Hackbarth Story

Two Minnesota entities currently in the news are in the midst of blowing up in the home stretch of their respective campaigns: The Minnesota Twins and Tom Emmer. While the disintegration of the former pains me, the meltdown of the latter puts a smile on my face. The latest act in the Emmer Implosion: Getting his ass sued by a fellow teabagger, roofing contractor Steve Hackbarth. Seriously:

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 21 and is set for a hearing Nov. 8 — six days after the election. It accuses Emmer of "professional negligence below the acceptable standard for a lawyer in this situation" stemming from the 2009
business dispute.

The supplier of roofing materials sued Hackbarth’s company for nonpayment of bills. In an interview, Hackbarth said he had
been mistakenly billed for some of the expenses. He said he hired Emmer, whom he described as a friend, to represent him
against the supplier. A hearing was scheduled for June 5, 2009, but Emmer obtained a continuance to July 1 of that year.

Emmer "failed to submit any evidence to contradict" the supplier’s allegations, the malpractice suit said.

Hackbarth wound up losing his contractor’s license over this, hence the lawsuit against Emmer from a man who was once such a good friend of Tommy’s that he once drove a float for him in a parade during one of Emmer’s campaigns for his Minnesota House seat.

Emmer’s response to all of this has been to do a scorched-earth number on Hackbarth’s reputation. In particular, he’s all but accusing Hackbarth of arson:

Court records show Emmer developing a dual-track plan to, in the best case, avoid the malpractice filing altogether and, in the worst, undercut its legitimacy.

In late July, [Emmer lawyer Michael] Schwartz hired the private investigator to look into a suspicious fire at Hackbarth’s home in early 2009, according to an affidavit. Schwartz also corresponded with Hackbarth’s lawyer, Robert Hart, in hopes of a "mutually beneficial resolution" before anything got to court.

In an Aug. 18 letter, Schwartz asked how Emmer was responsible for the outcome in Hackbarth’s case and suggested any professional negligence claim against Emmer would fail. "Again, if we are missing anything, and it comes to our attention that Emmer has in fact made a mistake, Emmer will make good on it," Schwartz wrote.

Within days of being sued, Schwartz quickly filled the court file with documents refuting Hackbarth’s claims. Schwartz said he plans to seek sanctions against Hackbarth and Hart for filing what he sees as frivolous claims.

So did Steve Hackbarth really torch his own home, as the Emmer legal team seems to want us all to think? Neither the insurance company nor the state fire marshal’s office believe he did: The fire marshal’s office report said the cause of the fire was "undetermined" and closed the investigation, saying that it couldn’t rule out that the fire had started accidentally during kitchen remodeling. Furthermore, Hackbarth’s insurer paid damage claims on it, and considering insurance companies are always eager to avoid making huge payouts if they can at all avoid it, one would think that they’d have contested this tooth and nail instead of meekly coughing up the money.

It’s not just Tom Emmer undergoing severe meltdown. As local blogger Two-Putt Tommy states, the entire leadership, such as it is, of the Republican Party of Minnesota has gone utterly, tail-chasingly, self-destructively berserk, what with state Republican party chair Tony Sutton calling out as "quislings" the baker’s dozen of former Republican legislators, many of whom were in harness before Sutton was even born, who endorsed former Republican and current Independence Party candidate Tom Horner rather than line up behind He Who Hates Waitresses.

Say hello to Govenor Mark Dayton.

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