Range lawmakers decry KSTP story

For your viewing pleasure, here is a sternly-worded letter sent by members of the Iron Range legislative delegation to KSTP and most Minnesota media outlets regarding KSTP’s hit job on Ironworld last week. This letter originated out of State Rep. and House Majority Leader Tony Sertich’s office, is signed by the entire Range delegation and was written after KSTP’s lame defense of the story over the weekend.

C/O: Rob Hubbard, General Manager
3415 University Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55114-2099

Dear Mr. Hubbard:

The “investigative report” aired by KSTP on July 7th regarding Ironworld was not only outrageous, it contained out-right lies, gross inaccuracies and misleading conjecture. This careless journalism is both unprofessional and unacceptable. Regardless, it certainly does not pass as investigative reporting.

News anchor Leah McLean begins the piece by stating: “Even if you’ve never heard of Ironworld, it’s still costing you money.” This is patently false.

Not one cent of state dollars pays for the ongoing operation of Ironworld. The facility and staff are supported entirely by local resources, donations and non-profit assistance. Unlike, other state educational destinations such as Ft. Snelling, the History Center, the Science Museum, the Guthrie and the Minnesota Zoo, the state’s taxpayers are not responsible for any funding of Ironworld. Ironworld does not receive state subsidies as you suggest.

Since it appears your reporters did not bother learning the facts, please allow us to explain. Multi-national mining corporations pay a production tax for every ton of natural resource they remove from our land. You can imagine with the current global demand for steel, the corporations are experiencing record profits. This taconite production tax is paid in-lieu of local property taxes. The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is a state agency charged with distributing about 25% these non-taxpayer revenues. The other 75% of the production tax goes towards local cities, towns, and schools.

In defending this shoddy journalism, KSTP Assistant News Director Sam Zeff recently claimed in a local press story that if the money did not go to Ironworld then it would go into the state’s general fund. This is completely false. Respectfully, Mr. Zeff has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. The resources would go towards local schools and cities.

Furthermore, we find it peculiar that you would use the ultra-conservative Taxpayers League as a source for this story. This right-wing advocacy group, which is secretly funded by only a handful of multi-millionaires, knows little about the rich history and tradition of the Iron Range, let alone Ironworld. These are the same anti-government folks that lobbied this past legislative session against additional education funding, support for our nursing homes and replacing the state’s thirteen worst bridges.

The story is correct that the center is intended to preserve and promote the history and cultural heritage of Northern Minnesota, and we believe the facility and staff provide this important service to the entire state. Ironworld hosts a premier archive for local and regional genealogy and is used extensively by amateur and professional genealogists. It’s disappointing the KSTP story failed to focus on the positive educational influence Ironworld provides.

We are proud that Ironworld is the largest museum complex in Minnesota outside of the metropolitan area and is visited by thousands of people every year. We believe it would be difficult to find a museum that is not subsidized to some extent at some level.

As Iron Rangers we are proud our history and culture. We are glad we have a museum that preserves and protects the history of Northern Minnesota because if we did not, stories such as yours might be relied upon as the truth.

This attempt at investigative journalism was lacking in both meaningful investigation and factual journalism. We suggest you issue a retraction immediately and correct these misleading statements. Frankly, we believe a station of your stature should hold themselves to a higher level of journalistic integrity. We expect a written reply to our concerns. Thank you for your consideration.


Rep. Tony Sertich
District 5B- Chisholm

Rep. Tom Rukavina
District 5A- Virginia

Rep. Tom Anzelc
District 3A- Balsam Township

Rep. Loren Solberg
District 3B- Grand Rapids

Rep. David Dill
District 6A- Crane Lake

Senator David Tomassoni
District 5- Chisholm

Senator Tom Saxhaug
District 3- Grand Rapids

CC: Lindsay Radford, KSTP News Director
Minnesota Media Outlets


  1. Anonymous says:

    Whether it’s contrived controversy at a Muslim school, the search for a specious smiley-face killer, or an inaccurate Ironworld investigation you can count on KSTP’s assistant news director Sam Zeff to be at the center of the confusion. It is truly shocking how much damage one psychotic person can do. Fired from his last job for abusive, sexist, and racist behavior, Zeff is a one man wrecking crew. His impact will be felt in the KSTP newsroom long after his departure. How long will it take KSTP management to cut out the cancer?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I worked with Sam Zeff and seen he is out to make a name for himself. He dosent care about truth because he wants every one up in arms. I heard rumors of his unsavory past at other news stations. I still have journalistic integrity so I did some research of my own. Mr.Zeff has been fired from his last two positions. He has stated publicly that he has been a reporter for over 30 years. I found that hard to believe looking at him. I mean no offense but hes not reporter material so I checked this out as well. Mr Zeff has not been a reporter for over 30 years because hes never been a reporter period. It all can be googled. There is plenty out there to show his track record. Here is just one of the many links to show this guys track record.
    You cant imagine how shady this guy is until you see this.I said shady but more accurately…dangerous.I ask the following question. Does anyone check references?

  3. If you watch the video of the story online, you would see that this really isn’t Leah McLean’s fault. She was doing her job as an anchor announcing a story. She probably thought it was accurate. But, there is not one mention of reporter Bob McNaney anywhere in this letter. Leah didn’t work on this story; it was Bob McNaney’s fault.

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