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Do I Owe Jim Poolman An Apology? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Wednesday, 17 June 2009 19:00

"It wouldn't be neighborly!"No. 

I don't. 

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post about how it seemed pretty clear former North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman had his hand in the cookie jar while North Dakota's media slept at the switch.  Well... as it turns out, I only got part of the story.  There's more.  It's worse.  Bismarck Tribune Editor John Irby's neighbor -- Poolman, a Republican -- was prominently featured in a major, national news story again recently.  Once again North Dakotans are being deprived a major news story about questionable conduct by one of North Dakota's Republican politicians.

So what's new?  

This latest story was in the Washington Post.  It was published almost a week ago.  This is going to sound quite familiar to regular readers of NorthDecoder.com.  It's a story about how Poolman was courted by insurance industry big-wigs, accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from them, and then went to bat for them, drafting new model laws that benefit them.  It's a story about Poolman getting an offer he literally couldn't refuse from those insiders, dishonoring his commitment to the people that elected him, and going to work making the big bucks working for the exact same people that courted him.  And -- predictably -- John Irby's neighbor denies there's anything wrong with what he did. 

But this Washington Post story isn't about Poolman (and the NDGOP) accepting $45k in campaign contributions from one company in the viatical settlement industry and then Poolman going to bat for them.  No.  This new story is about how Poolman took money from a group of insurance companies, and their lobbyists, and then, two months later, Poolman spearheaded "the coalition's efforts to change the way life insurance is regulated. The change would alter long-standing prescriptions for how much money insurers must keep in reserve -- a crucial variable that can influence their profits, the premiums they charge consumers and their ability to pay claims."  (Washington Post).  These historical changes, according to the WaPo story, could leave policyholders -- that's you and me -- "in a weaker position." 

The alliance went on to host receptions honoring Poolman and another top NAIC official, Sandy Praeger of Kansas.

The alliance hosted receptions for those commissioners because "they were listening to us" and "they were committed to the process," Harrison said. It is "very difficult to get these things done at the NAIC, and you need commissioners and other regulators who are committed to achieving the desired outcome," he said.

Harrison initially described the events for Poolman and Praeger as fundraisers but later said he preferred to call them receptions because guests were not required to give money. In a separate interview, Poolman made no such distinction.

Poolman said the money didn't influence him.

[ ]

How much money the alliance helped Poolman raise is unclear from the public record. Of the 22 contributions his campaign reported receiving in 2005, 18 were dated May 19, according to a report filed with the North Dakota secretary of state. That may or may not have been the same day as the event organized by the alliance; Poolman said he didn't recall the date, and Harrison said only that it was in May 2005.

Measured in dollars, Poolman's campaign reported receiving nearly half of his total 2005 contributions -- $9,550 -- from political action committees of insurers that belonged to the alliance, individuals whose names were consistent with those publicly identified as working for the alliance, or individuals who appeared to be executives of member companies. Neither Poolman nor Harrison provided clarification, and some others declined to comment.

"We're not willing to answer your questions," said Stephen P. Horvat Jr., chief legal officer of former alliance member Midland National Life Insurance Co.

Two months after the gathering at the Caucus Room, in a conference call with other members of his NAIC committee, Poolman said he was changing the agenda for an upcoming meeting "to focus entirely on the long-term strategies to arrive at a principles-based approach to reserving," as paraphrased in the minutes of the call. In August 2005, Poolman presided over a two-day hearing on the issue at which members of the insurance industry pressed their case.

Washington Post (page 3)

Hmmm.   Two months after getting over $14,000 at this May 19th fundraiser, Poolman changes the committee's agenda to better fit the priorities of the folks at that fundraiser.  Hmmm.  Interesting. 

This was a rather long story in a major national newspaper based in our nation's capitol.  But here in North Dakota, the first you've heard anything about any of these stories is here on NorthDecoder.com.  

So you ask yourself, "Why is that?  Why do I have to get information about my local Republican politicans from a blog?"

By now you should have learned that stories like this don't appear in the North Dakota news.  The North Dakota media is too busy regurgitating John Hoeven press releases.  They have better things to do than publishing stories about scandals involving politicians who are their neighbors. 

We deserve better.

[A SHOUT OUT:  Greetings to our friends from www.first-draft.com.  Our friend Athenae threw us a snark bone this morning and some of her friends are stumbling by.  Howdy gang.  When's the next crack van event?] 

Comments (14)add comment

nimrod said:

What are they thinking?
Maybe the news media think of us as lemmings, but that's too strong. Maybe we are thought of more along the lines of a complacent, obedient, barnyard animal, that belongs to a herd. Like cattle, or sheep, or domestic turkeys. The SBHE might keep the media's perception of the ND public in mind if we have to adopt a new mascot for UND Athletics.
June 18, 2009
Votes: +1

Deb' said:

The Luck o' The Irish is with 'im
with his Blarney Stone placed firmly in front of him, the media won't be able to see around it to the real story. Smart lad.
June 18, 2009
Votes: +0

doug d.riley said:

been sayn
a true investigative reporter is going to go live an work in another state,what north decoder has is a truly controlled media,they are spooned fed their news and are very content with what comes in,there are many hands in the cookie jar,if the real truth ever gets out this state would be worse than watergate....
June 18, 2009
Votes: +1

Truth said:

And the political contributions to Obama from the UAW and other unions had not affect on the fact that the unions now own more ownership interest in GM than the people who had borrowed money to GM. The money borrowed to GM by the investors exceeded the amount of indebtness to the unions in terms of dollars but the unions get a bigger share of the pie after the Obama administration takes over. Oh no, there is no paybacks to the unions for electing Obama. More hypocricsy from the Dems.
June 18, 2009
Votes: -1

Chet said:

So... if I'm tracking "truth" here... It's okay that the media is ignoring the latest Poolman scandal because Democrats do it too. Right?

Hey Truth. I think Fox News is covering the "story" you're talking about. Lotsa people in North Dakota watch Fox News (obviously). How many people here read the Washington Post?

You obviously don't get it. Luckily I have low expectations for you, so it's okay.

June 18, 2009
Votes: -1

Truth said:

I'm not saying that, what I am pointing out is the fact that the story refers to political paybacks and I'm saying it works on both parties. And if you want appropriate coverage on issues, where is the MSM covering the fact that the Obama administration will not release the visotors lists at the White House. Remember how many liberal groups were up in arms when Cheney wouldn't release his visitors list but we here little or nothin about the fact that Obama is doing the same. Maybe ND papers don't think its newsworthy, much like some of the things that Obama/Dems the liberal MSM doesn't think its newsworthy.

And way to throw an insult, which is typical of Democrats/liberals. Its becoming clear that anytime someone doesn't agree with a liberal point of view (that obviously includes yours) they just don't get it and are labeled as stupid.
June 18, 2009
Votes: +0

Deb' said:

quick question
if truth doesn't believe in or like anything that he/she reads here -- why is that person constantly reading the decoder? i would think that person would be much happier over at say anything blah or any of the other billion right wing blahs that cater to his ilk. just sayin'...
June 18, 2009
Votes: +0

Chet said:

You have to be smarter than this, Truth
You're seriously suggesting the mainstream media isn't covering the "White House visitor list" story?!? Are you on crack?

Seriously. I'm not even kidding. Are you on crack?!?

Are you?

Or maybe I should ask... How much crack are you on?

I just did a google news search for white house visitor list and came up with 399 recent stories on that exact topic. (and the story is only two days old). The top one is CBS News. Then the San Francisco Chronicle. Then the Boston Herald. Then Reuters. Then UPI Then the New York Times. Then CBS News (again). Then UPI (again). Then CBS News. Then AFP. Politico. Newsweek. AP. Washington Post. Reuters. ABC News. Fox News. UPI. AP. eTaiwan News. Washington Post. Politico (AP). Politico. Washington Post. Ad nauseam.

What rock are you living under?

It's a national news story and it's been all over the national media for at least two days. Don't tell me you're not getting enough of it.

And, seriously, every time you post something here you call me and/or all Democrats "hypocrites" and you're all offended because I said I don't expect much from you? Pot? Meet kettle.

I really don't feel your pain, Mr. Pot. Sorry.

Maybe if you toned it down a notch or two I could start expecting more from you.
June 18, 2009
Votes: +0

Marty said:

The defense of Poolman will be, "Hey, legislators, congressmen, politicians all get money from lobbyists, so what?" Regulators should be held to a different standard. They should hold themselves to a different standard. The NAIC should hold its members to a different standard. I wonder if Hamm is holding himself to a different standard?
June 18, 2009
Votes: +1

doug d.riley said:

i thought
that this story was about the poor investigating that the north dakota media does about any high profile thats got their hand in the cookie jar here in north dakota,it is a real shame that usa today and the washington post are leting the world know and the folks here in north dakota are still in the dark,THANKS CHET,do you ever think about starting your own paper,the blogs nice but not all north dakota is reading the blogs,and this state really needs to wake up....
June 19, 2009
Votes: +0

Truth said:

Deb, the reason for my reading/posting here is that I try to get all viewpoints, and there has been a recent study that indicates that the people who tend to have conversative views are the ones who read more often read viewpoints of the other side than those with liberal views. Based on that study, it appears liberals only think their views are the ones that matter.

And on that list published, where is precious MSNBC and CNN? In fairness I have read the story on MSNBC (the one I linked to earlier) but haven't heard anything on the network talking heads. Its the lack of talking about the story from Ed, Rachel, Olberman, Anderson Cooper, etc that I am talking about. Now granted they aren't journalists, they are commentators, but you know as well as I do that more people take what they hear from commentators (Hannity and Limbaugh) included as the real news, so its them I am criticizing.
June 20, 2009
Votes: +0

Marty said:

Okay then, Truth...
Take your fight to MSNBC, and Fox, and the EIB. Take it to Ed, Rachel, Olberman, Anderson Cooper, Hannity and Limbaugh. You've made your point here. Ad nauseum. We got your point the last 100 times you tried to make it. Chet's just a guy with a blog; he ain't "the News." And if you think we're too dumb to realize that, well, you're too dumb to understand what we know. See, a lot of us used to think of ourselves as Republicans. A lot of us used to, and sometimes still do, listen to Hannity and Limbaugh and O'Reilly. But we also know when they are full of it, which is a lot of the time. And we don't need you to protect us from believing there is only one side to a story, or that when Republicans do wrong, Democrats don't. We're smarter than you think. You insult our intelligence.
June 21, 2009
Votes: -1

Chet said:

To Truth
I wish I could get at the substance of the "study" you reference. I've found a few news stories about it and it sounds mildly interesting. I'm suspicious of the vague descriptions I've seen so far but am open to the possibility it might be legitimate.

But a couple of the things that jumped out at me as being flawed include: (1) it appears to have been a study of about 160 Ohio college students. I can imagine how projecting the results of a study of 160 Ohio college students across the entire population of the United States might not work. I also wonder how much influence issues such as "creative headline writing" and "reading speed" might influence such a study. It also seems like a little bit of a stretch to suggest that just because an Ohio college student clicked on an article suggests that he/she might have actually read -- or understood -- any of it.

I'd also like to know how they determined whether a person is "conservative" or "liberal." Is it based upon self reporting (e.g. "Are you a conservative?" and "Are you a liberal?)? Or did they ask them questions about specific issues (e.g. "Do you support the idea of having a socialistic military, paid for with federal tax dollars?" and "Do you believe teachers should receive fair compensation?") and make their own independent determination?

There are many, many ways a study like this could be biased or could be just poorly administered. There is, of course, a possibility that this is a legitimate study, but I've seen way too many poorly conducted studies to just accept it as gospel without knowing more.

Though I'd like to know more about the study, I'm not willing to subscribe to the journal it's published in (because I don't care that much). I'm certainly not willing to just accept it for what you suggest it says, though I'd guess it reinforces your predispositions and so I'm sure you do.

Isn't that ironic?
June 22, 2009
Votes: +0

nimrod said:

Truth -- Check out Bob Herbert's editorial in today's (6-23-09) New York Times. "Liberal" editorial writer at "liberal" newspaper criticizes President Obama. Wow - journalistic integrity.
June 23, 2009
Votes: +0

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