add BC-MN-Sertich-Pawlenty 1stLd-Writethru 04-14 0250
Pawlenty acknowledges jab, denies tie to vetoed projects
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ST. PAUL (AP) — Gov. Tim Pawlenty confirmed Monday that he crafted the hockey-themed message his lead adviser delivered to a top lawmaker, but he insists it wasn’t a veiled threat against construction projects that were later vetoed.
On Friday, House Majority Leader Tony Sertich accused Pawlenty of striking three projects in his Iron Range legislative district from a $925 million borrowing bill as retribution for comments he made last month criticizing the governor’s engagement level at the Capitol.
Pawlenty had Chief of Staff Matt Kramer call Sertich and tell him: "Cheap shots are cheap, but they’re not free."
What was said next is in dispute. Sertich said Kramer implicated his bonding bill projects; the governor’s office denies it.
"He’s over-dramatizing a little bit," Pawlenty said. "We did not connect those comments to any sort of threat regarding legislation or projects. That’s something that he’s taken a little liberty with."
Pawlenty said Sertich’s original comments were detrimental to their working relationship. Sertich said the response was unbecoming of a governor, but he now hopes to move on.
"In life you don’t always get along with the people you work with," Sertich said Monday. "I’ve got a job to do. So does he. We shouldn’t make it personal. He clearly made it personal."