Al Coen, Fargo, Published October 12 2012
Letter: Kasper helped state get an ‘F’North Dakota received an “F” rating from the Center for Public Integrity because of a lack of ethical standards for public officials. And the lack of public disclosure means citizens are unaware of real or perceived conflicts of interest among public officials.
For example, in 2005, District 46 Rep. Jim Kasper introduced legislation to make North Dakota a host for the international Internet poker industry. After the session, Kasper received expense-paid trips/vacations to Antigua, Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Montreal and Las Vegas. The point is, these industry-paid junkets give the appearance that Kasper is bought off by an industry widely perceived as corrupt. If not for scattered press reports, nobody would know about Kasper’s junkets. There may have been more.
It is worth noting that in 2005, legislation that would have required disclosure of Kasper’s trips was killed by the Republican state Senate. Further, Reps. Kasper and Kathy Hawken, and the entire Republican caucuses of the Legislature repeatedly defeated attempts to improve ethics standards, disclosure, and reporting. We need to establish state ethics standards and disclosure reporting so that I know who is paying the international travel or other perks of our state legislators. If we did, North Dakota wouldn’t receive a failing grade, and people like me will know why our representatives vote the way they do.
In District 46, I’ll vote for George Sinner, Lee Myxter and Diane Hill because I know some lobbying organization or industry isn’t paying their tab.