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Mike Haugen, Fargo, Published October 27 2012

Letter: Anti-defense group backs Heitkamp

Due to the rapid expansion of energy production, our vast farmland coupled with ingenuity and hard work, it’s no wonder North Dakota is currently the envy of America. With this gift of a great economic environment, it can be easy to overlook the role that our two military bases play in both the security of our nation and the economic vitality of our state, and it would seem that our Democratic candidate for Senate has done just that.

It has been widely reported in the media that Heidi Heitkamp has actively solicited and accepted tens of thousands of dollars from a radical anti-defense organization called The Council for a Livable World. One report cited them as her third-largest campaign contributor. After a little research into this group, I learned that one of their missions is to advocate for progressive national security policies and help elect candidates who support those policies. According to their website, the council believes America gets little return in terms of security from our defense budget.

I find that statement appalling.

We North Dakotans lived on the front lines of the Cold War. We know the dedication and commitment of the men and women who serve our country and that their sacrifices are the reason why we live in a free society. Minot Air Force Base is responsible for employing more than 6,000 people and indirectly supports the employment of more than 2,000. The financial impact in Minot and the surrounding region reaches a half-billion dollars a year. Beyond the financial impact, the base is also central to the defense of our nation.

The Grand Forks Air Force Base serves a similar role employing thousands and leaving an economic impact that reaches into the tens of millions. This base is also key to the global war on terror – home to drones which successfully decimated al-Qaida members across the world.

This type of fundraising raises very serious questions. First, why would Heitkamp accept contributions from a radical group that wants to decimate our nation’s defense? Second, what on earth has she said to get them to donate so much money to her campaign?

Certainly I understand the need to raise money to compete with your opponent, but on issues like these, I expect more from our candidates. I expect them to fight for North Dakotans, protect our jobs and protect our security, not associate and raise money with radical organizations that would be content to see our very livelihoods destroyed and our defenses crippled.

Heitkamp owes the people of North Dakota, particularly the airmen in Minot and Grand Forks, an explanation as to why she is associating and funding her campaign with donations from such an extreme group.

Haugen is a former North Dakota adjutant general and a former member

of the state Board of Higher Education.