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Pam Gulleson, Published September 04 2012

Letter: It’s high time for Cramer to stop lies, tell the truth

It’s time Kevin Cramer told the truth.

I got into this race because I believe that North Dakota needs a new kind of leadership in Congress – an independent leader who puts the needs of our state first. I believe that public servants should not cross the line into impropriety – we should not even get close to the line. North Dakotans deserve better than that. Those are the values I’ve brought to my run for the U.S. House.

And that’s why I’ve been so disappointed to see my opponent, Kevin Cramer, not only come close to that line but even cross it. Congress has seen quite enough unethical dealings from politicians who put self above service. I don’t think that’s what our state needs in a leader in Washington.

My opponent is trying to change the subject and go on the attack, and it’s pretty clear why. The North Dakota Public Service Commission, on which Cramer sits, is currently being sued because Cramer and Brian Kalk accepted potentially illegal campaign contributions that constitute a conflict of interest. To date, he has received $64,000 in campaign contributions from the same interests he regulates as a commissioner. At best, these contributions are ethically questionable; at worst, they’re illegal.

In addition, Cramer and Kalk have also violated North Dakota’s Bribery Statute, which prohibits commissioners from accepting contributions from contributors who have an interest in pending cases before the Public Service Commission. This is a serious criminal matter – a Class C felony.

Now, because Cramer and Kalk made the decision to accept these contributions, the state of North Dakota is forced to defend the Public Service Commission in a federal court case, or risk losing jurisdiction over regulating our coal industry. That’s unacceptable.

Last week, I asked Cramer to come clean and let taxpayers know how much this lawsuit – defended by expensive out-of-state lawyers – will cost North Dakota taxpayers. I also asked him why he didn’t simply return these contributions and end this fiasco so our state could move on.

Instead of being honest with voters and answering those questions, Cramer lashed out at me. He did not deny that he took thousands of dollars in political campaign money from interests that had pending cases before the commission. He did not deny that after taking the campaign contribution money, he went right ahead and made decisions in favor of the parties that had given him the money beforehand. He didn’t even acknowledge that his decisions will cost our taxpayers thousands and thousands of dollars and put our coal industry in jeopardy.

We’ve had enough lies in politics already. It’s time to hear the truth.

Gulleson is the Democratic-NPL candidate for the U.S. House from North Dakota.