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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 11 2012

Blogger alleges Heitkamp campaign behind request to pull Berg TV ad

FARGO – A conservative blogger is charging that a family tie between North Dakota Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp and the executive director of the YWCA Cass Clay may be behind a request to have a Rick Berg television ad pulled from the air.

Rob Port, who writes Say Anything Blog, called the situation “dirty politics” in a blog entry headline posted Friday evening.

Port insinuated that because the executive director of the YWCA, Erin Prochnow, is a niece of Heitkamp, that the Heitkamp campaign used the tie to influence the YWCA board.

“But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, right?” Port wrote of the YWCA board’s request to have the ad pulled.

“It just goes to show that Heitkamp and her allies will stoop to any level to win this campaign,” Port added later in his post.

The YWCA board had asked Berg, the Republican Senate candidate, to pull an ad featuring a former board chairwoman praising Berg for helping to secure funding for a new emergency women’s shelter in Fargo.

In a written statement, the board said the ad could be perceived as a YWCA endorsement of Berg’s campaign, which would jeopardize its nonprofit status.

Berg’s campaign said it would update the ad to make clear that it wasn’t a YWCA endorsement.

A Heitkamp campaign spokesman said Saturday that no attempts were made to influence the YWCA board.

“My understanding is that this was a decision of the board,” Brandon Lorenz said. “We read this in the newspaper like I think a lot of other people did.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583