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Greg Stites, Bismarck, Published January 13 2014

Letter: Harms’ ‘gaffe’ tells us the truth

It seems today that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. We can then thank Robert W. Harms, North Dakota Republican Party chairman and registered lobbyist, for his gaffe when he recently said we should take a moderated approach as we move forward with oil development in North Dakota. That makes sense to me, and I expect it does to you.

But, unfortunately, Harms’ words were not what the Republican supermajority wanted to hear at all. It appears Republican legislators and statewide elected officials have all come down on their chairman like a ton of bricks. Harms has had to apologize to them in an email that was then leaked to the public.

Harms has been forced to distance his reasonable comments from a Republican Party that believes Big Oil should be able to do anything it wants without interference from the government. To prove this, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said in direct response to Harms’ comments that “the oil industry out west is going to maintain its own pace. You can’t slow it down or speed it up. It is what it is.”

It is clear that moderates are not welcome in the North Dakota Republican Party. And that is dangerous when the Republican Party controls every level of state government. Just ask the residents of Casselton and Ross.