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Al Coen, Fargo, Published April 06 2012

Why ND needs an ethics panel

The recent article in The Forum about North Dakota Public Service Commissioners Kevin Cramer and Brian Kalk and their conflict of interest pertaining to taking campaign contributions from the people who own the company they are responsible for regulating is troubling. Although the contributions are from individuals, those individuals actually own the company to be regulated by Cramer and Kalk.

When one makes a sizable contribution, there is an implication one wants something in return. The very taking of the contribution casts a shadow over the judgment of the PSC. At the very least, Cramer and Kalk should recuse themselves from granting a permit for the coal project at South Heart. And at most, they should also return the contributions. The appearance of corruption is evident.

North Dakota is the only state in the nation that does not have an ethics commission. This situation is a case study as to why we need one.