Ryan Johnson, Published August 10 2012
UPDATED: Berg campaign agrees to alter ad after YWCA Cass Clay calls for it to be pulled
In a written statement to The Forum, campaign spokesman Chris Van Guilder said Berg “cares deeply about the YWCA and its mission” and re-spects the organization’s nonprofit tax status. He said the ad was intended to be “a personal testimonial of Rick’s commitment to our community,” not a sign of endorsement from the YWCA.
“To address the YWCA’s concerns, we have imme-diately notified stations that an updated ad is com-ing,” Guilder wrote. “The new version clarifies this is not an endorsement from the YWCA and Tammy Miller is a former board president.”
The issue came up when the ad, released Wednes-day, featured former YWCA board chairwoman Miller praising Berg for his role in helping secure millions of dollars to build a new YWCA emergency shelter for women and children in Fargo.
“When we first met with Rick, we thought we would just ask for a financial contribution,” she says. “That’s what we were ex-pecting. Rick so strongly believed in the mission and wanted to do more.”
In the ad, Miller says Berg offered to manage the project, and his work helped the YWCA get its new state-of-the-art shelter with room for 75 that opened in 2004 at 3000 S. University Drive in Fargo.
But the YWCA board of directors issued a written statement Friday afternoon calling for Berg to immedi-ately stop airing the ad.
“This advertisement is being perceived as a YWCA endorsement of the Rick Berg campaign,” the statement said. “As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organi-zation, the YWCA Cass Clay did not, cannot and will not endorse, support or engage in political cam-paigns or elections.”
An online version of the original ad posted to Berg’s campaign website and YouTube page included a written disclaimer that the video is a “personal testi-monial, not an endorse-ment by the YWCA.”
But the actual video didn’t make that same distinction.
Miller, CEO of Fargo-based Border States Elec-tric, was in Africa and unavailable for comment Friday afternoon, a com-pany spokeswoman said.
In a written statement to The Forum, Democratic-NPL Party spokeswoman Alison Kelly said the ad shows Berg “is trying to hide his long history of toeing the party line at the expense of North Dakota’s women.”
She said since becoming the state’s lone member of the U.S. House in 2011, Berg has voted twice – first in March and again in May – against considering the reauthorization of the Senate’s Violence Against Women Act.
“North Dakotans won’t forget that Rick Berg voted with his party leaders and against the bipartisan Senate version of the Vio-lence Against Women Act in Washington, leaving VAWA another victim to Washington’s partisan gridlock,” Kelly wrote.