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Perrie Schafer, Mandan, N.D., Published November 02 2013

Letter: Judge’s PSC ruling on point

I agree with Judge Dan Hovland’s ruling that reiterated our Public Service commissioners were justified in accepting campaign contributions from people associated with the state’s lignite industry. From the beginning, this case was about the use of frivolous lawsuits by environmental groups that hoped to silence the voices of those they disagree with.

I run a business that sells engineered equipment to lignite mines and power plants in North Dakota. In fact, you might say that they are my bread and butter, my reason for coming to work and hiring other employees.

It is our constitutional right in this country to associate with the political groups and candidates we agree with, and to support them. Environmental groups have millions of dollars at their disposal and are free to use that money as they see fit. They can donate it to the candidates who agree with them. But when they use their million-dollar war chests to file frivolous lawsuits that aim to restrict my right to free speech and restrict my ability to participate in the political process, they subvert the political system in place.

In North Dakota, my company’s employees are part of the 17,000 jobs related to the lignite industry. We have the right to contribute to candidates we agree with, just as radical environmental groups do.

Just because my salary and that of my employees comes from the sale of equipment to the mines and power plants doesn’t strip me of my constitutional rights.

Schafer is president/CEO, Environmental Services LTD.