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A Tiff In North Dakota Law Enforcement
Written by Chet   

CageI sat through a short legislative committee hearing Tuesday morning that got kind of spicy.  It was the North Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on House Bill 1416.  The part people seemed to be fighting about is this:

12-60-08.1. Power of the attorney general to issue subpoenas in bureau investigations. The attorney general may issue an administrative subpoena compelling the recipient to provide records or information to an agent of the bureau of criminal investigation in any criminal matter being investigated by the bureau.

HB 1416 

The horribly unconstitutional (in my opinion) provision is being pushed through the legislature by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.  It's kind of flown under the radar so far this session.  It was passed in the House and is now in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  What was interesting is that the States Attorneys showed up and testified in opposition to the bill.  So we had local prosecutors arguing with the state's top prosecutor about the legitimacy of his claimed need for this bill.  Here's how it played out:

Assistant Attorney General Jon Byers got up first, and testified that there's only one way for prosecutors to get subpoenas issued for out-of-state internet Internet Protocol (IP) information and that is by contacting a cop in the state where the Internet Service Provider (ISP) is located, convince them to set aside all their other work and go talk to a local prosecutor, and get the prosecutor convinced to seek the issuance of a subpoena by a judge.  Byers and the BCI cop who testified in support of this bill acknowledged that this relates, almost exclusively, to internet-related crimes.  He made it sound like the process for getting these out-of-state subpoenas is horribly burdensome, but it's the only way this can get done.  He claimed states attorneys can get subpoenas through the "States Attorney Inquiry" process, but that the subpoenas ultimately are issued without court participation.  He was wrong.

After Byers and the other A.G. employee supporter of the bill got done testifying about how the A.G.'s office needs this subpoena power, then McLean County States Attorney Ladd Erickson got up and essentially said -- without saying it -- that Jon Byers has no idea what he's talking about.  He pointed out that there's a process that involves both a state and federal statute that he and other states attorneys use all the time to get this out-of-state internet information.  He described the process.  It included court participation and the issuance of a court order.  He said states attorneys all around the state use the same process all the time.  It sounded like it was quick and easy and not a big deal, but that it also protected citizens' privacy and due process rights by involving the court and requiring a minimal showing of proof (something the A.G.'s bill doesn't include).  Intentionally or otherwise, Byers was made to look like he was completely clueless about how subpoenas are issued by prosecutors "in the real world."  I watched Byers as Erickson described this process.  His face turned redder and redder as Erickson explained how the real world works.  I couldn't tell if he was angry or embarassed.  Perhaps both.

Bottom line?  The A.G.'s office was either wrong, or they were deliberately providing false information to the committee.  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they probably just didn't know what they were talking about.  They usually don't.

Erickson was asked by the committee's chairman, David Nething, why he hadn't testified about this bill when it was in front of the House committee.  Erickson explained he had tried to work something out with the Attorney General.  It sounded as though the A.G. wasn't willing to work with him.  Erickson said he had some proposed amendments, but it sounded as though the A.G. wasn't interested in looking at them.  Erickson provided copies of the proposed amendments to the committee members.

What's interesting -- and controversial -- about this bill is that it purports to create a process for issuance of an "administrative subpoena" by the A.G.'s office -- without any checks or balances by the judicial branch -- in ALL criminal cases being investigated by the A.G.'s office and it's investigative arm, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.  For people who aren't law trained, that might not seem like a big deal, but it is.  Generally speaking, subpoenas can only be issued in the name of a court.  An exception probably exists in investigations by administrative agencies.  An example might be that the Department of Human Services has authority to issue administrative subpoenas when it is investigating a licensed daycare provider.  Or the Securities Department might issue an administrative subpoena when it is investigating a stock broker.  Same with the North Dakota Insurance Commissioner's office.  Those sorts of administrative subpoenas in non-criminal cases are fairly normal.  If evidence of criminal conduct is discovered during the course of information obtained with an administrative investigation, the agency might involve a prosecutor.  Again, that's normal. 

But this bill would open the door wide open for the A.G. to issue subpoenas in every criminal investigation with no standards being imposed and no judicial oversight.  It would essentially invalidate and/or circumvent Rule 17 of the North Dakota Rules of Criminal Procedure, which requires that all subpoenas in criminal investigations have to be issued "in the court's name."  If you're a constitutional law buff, you might know that the legislature has tried invalidating/circumventing court procedural rules in the past, with little success.  State v. Hanson comes to mind.  That was a case where the legislature tried to override the Supreme Court's rules relating to the exchange of information between defendants and prosecutors in criminal cases.  The Supreme Court said that's a power limited to the government courts  and threw out an entire section of the North Dakota Century Code.

A nearly identical proposal was the subject of much debate in Washington, D.C., last month.  D.C. cops made all the same arguments being made by North Dakota's A.G.  The A.C.L.U. got involved in fighting the D.C. law, but we don't have any civil liberties in North Dakota, so they haven't engaged here.  This is an area of the law that's pretty hot around the country, yet our local media hasn't written anything about the fact there's a fight going on here.  They're too busy not writing about the way our legislators are trying to mis-use the stimulus money to not write about big fights between North Datota's law enforcement entities.

Those of us who work with this stuff sometimes wonder how the Attorney General -- a guy who has sworn to uphold the laws and constitution of the State of North Dakota and of the United States -- can be the person advocating for what appears, pretty clearly, to be an unconstitutional law.  It must be awkward for him and his staff, especially when they show up at the hearing so unprepared and end up making significant misrepresentations to the committee members.

It was interesting to see local states attorneys fighting for people's rights while our Republican Attorney General was fighting to circumvent the constitution.   One thing one of the county prosecutors said in his testimony was that he hates to ever be on the opposite side of the A.G.'s office on a bill.  You could cut the tension in the room with a knife.  This bill has obviously caused some stress in the relationship between the A.G.'s office and the local prosecutors.

It'll be interesting to see where this horrible bill ends up.  

Look for a story on this in tomorrow's Bismarck Tribune or Fargo For 'em, but don't hold your breath while you look.  This stuff is too hard for them.

 
Governor Hoeven's Elitist Parking Area
Written by Chet   
Staff Parking Only

If you've been to the Capitol Building during the legislative session this winter, you know parking is at a prime.  The best parking spaces are filled early and often.  But one thing that's new this year is a section in one of the best "customer parking" lots.  In the lot just West of the North Dakota Highway Department  building, in the row of parking spaces closest to the "circle drive,"  the entire row has flourescent orange cones set up and signs indicating "Parking By Permit Only." (Click here to see the yellow highlighted area I'm talking about.)

If you've ever worked in a service industry job, one thing you know is that employees always park in the parking spaces farthest from the front door of the business.  This is as true at any restaurant as it is at any big box retail store.  It's true in the parking lots of most businesses that have parking lots.  

Question:  Who gets the "Permits" for the parking spots closest to the front door of the North Dakota State Capitol?  

Answer:  Governor John Hoeven's staff. 

What's funny about this parking area is that anybody can park in those "permit only" parking spaces.  Despite the (mis)information on the signs, you don't need a permit to park there   We have a law in North Dakota that says nobody can do anything about it if you park in those spots during the legislative session.  Here's what it says:

Whenever any authorized law enforcement officer finds, on state charitable or penal institution property or on the state capitol grounds, a vehicle standing, stopped, or parked in a dangerous location or in violation of any official traffic-control device prohibiting or restricting the stopping, standing, or parking of any vehicle, the officer shall place a written warning on the vehicle for the first offense and thereafter an authorized traffic citation may be issued. However, no traffic citation may be issued for a violation of this subsection occurring on the state capitol grounds during a legislative session.

NDCC § 39-10-48(4) [emphasis added]

The signs your government has put up actually misrepresent the law.  Your Governor is lying to you so that his staff can get better parking spots than you and I get.  How pathetic is that?

The Governor should learn a little something about customer service from folks who've worked in the service industry.  His employees should park in the furthest parking spaces, not the closest.  Or they should have to fight for the same parking spots over which the rest of us fight. 

You pay taxes on those parking spots, too.  You should use them.  (I do.)

You deserve it, too.

 
North Dakota's CRAZY "Abortion" Bill
Written by Chet   

HearingThere's a bill working its way through the North Dakota legislature right now relating to "personhood."  It's a bill being ushered through the legislature by people (including legislators) who obviously don't understand what the bill says, does and/or doesn't do.  Here's the substantive text of the bill:

A BILL for an Act to provide legislative intent as it relates to references to individual, person, or human being.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NORTH DAKOTA:

SECTION 1. References to individual, person, or human being - Legislative intent. For purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens.

SECTION 2. STATE TO DEFEND CHALLENGE. The legislative assembly, by concurrent resolution, may appoint one or more of its members, as a matter of right and in the legislative member's official capacity, to intervene to defend this Act in any case in which this Act's constitutionality is challenged.

ND Legislative Website

Where to start?!?  How about I start with this:  This bill is so ridiculously absurd that the Right to Life organization and the Catholic Bishops recognize it will not survive a constitutional attack if it is passed and challenged.  Huh?  An abortion law that is NOT supported by the Right to Lifers and the Catholic Church? 

C'mon!!!  

No.  Seriously.  I'm serious.

North Dakota Catholic Bishops Paul Zipfel and Samuel Aquila said they would support Ruby's bill as long as lawmakers amended the language. Otherwise, they will stay neutral on it.

Christopher Dodson, general counsel for the North Dakota Catholic Conference, said the amendments that the bishops are pushing would put an end to some of those "extraneous questions that keep coming up."

The extraneous questions that Dodson mentioned during a Thursday press conference could range from the serious (how would defining an embryo as a person affect abortion and birth control in North Dakota?) to the ridiculous (would the bill make it illegal for a pregnant woman to ride a bike because of state law?).

"We have not felt we have had consistent interpretations as to what it would do," Dodson said. "The bill itself does not indicate what the bill would do. It might not do much at all. But it could do something."

Ruby said he wants his bill to stay untouched, adding he doesn't understand why the bishops are not agreeing with the current language in his bill.

Bismarck Tribune

I know, I know.  It says the bishops will "stay neutral" on the bill if it's not amended.  But that's the same as saying they're against it, as far as I'm concerned.   You have to ask yourself, "How bad is an abortion bill if the Catholic Church can't even support it?"

Answer:  It has to be pretty bad.

I attended part of the hearing on this bill this morning at the North Dakota Capitol.  I listened to all of the proponents' testimony and only about the first 20 minutes of the opponents' testimony.  The proponents included the following cast of characters:  (1) Rep. Ruby, the bill's sponsor, (2) a guy who held himself out as a "constitutional law expert" (even though he is no more a constitutional expert than I am); (2) a woman from Seattle who adopted a 4 year old fertilized egg and had it implanted in her, with her offspring, (3) a 12 year old boy who read an essay, (4) a young woman who had been born at 24 months gestation [she showed a "dramatic" powerpoint presentation, with a soundtrack, clearly intended to evoke some kind of emotional response], (5) right-wing rag publisher Steve Cates, (6) a lobbyist for a fringe pro-life group, (7) an angry, loud guy who cited a lot of scripture, waved his arms around, and who wore a leather hat and "really cool" dark sunglasses, (8) Sen. George Nodland, who wanted everybody to think really, really, really, really, really, really hard about how important this bill is and (9) maybe another person or two that I can't think of right now.  They were all very passionate about the abortion issue, but none seemed qualified to talk about this particular bill, or the problems with the bill.  It seemed to me as though all had gotten some really, really bad information about what this bill will and will not do.  That's unfortunate.

I was only able to stick around for the testimony of the first opponent to the bill and about 2 minutes of the testimony of the second person. The first was a Dr. Stephanie Dahl, an OB/Gyn doctor specializing in fertility issues at MeritCare in Fargo.  Dr. Dahl systematically addressed about 5 or 6 of the problems with the bill, giving specific examples of how it will effect doctors who work with women.  She talked about ectopic pregnancies and molar pregnancies.  (All you "scientists" out there should look these things up.)  Dr. Dahl talked about women who have all kinds of complications with pregnancy and the fact that this bill will make it difficult or impossible for those patients to get proper medical attention in North Dakota.  She systematically picked this bill apart.  If the proponents of this bill had engaged in 20% of the intellectual analysis Dr. Dahl engaged in, the debate might have been worth listening too, but it wasn't.  

One of Dahl's best points -- particularly poignant in a hearing where one of the proponents had claimed we need this law because she had adopted a fertilized egg that had been frozen for four years -- was that if a fertilized egg has the same legal rights and protections as a person, then it would be torture or false imprisonment to put that person (a/k/a fertilized egg) in a freezer for four years, four months, four days, four hours or even four minutes.  The woman from Seattle -- and others in her shoes -- wouldn't be able to adopt a four year old fertilized egg in North Dakota if this bill becomes law.  Any intelligent person in the room recognized the amazing irony of this fact, but I'd bet none of the proponents saw it.

The medical issues are all interesting, but the real problems with the bill are legal.  I'm not going to go through all of them, but I'll touch on some.  I wish I could take credit for thinking all of these up, but I can't.  Most of these come from questions senators -- both Democratic and Republic -- asked during the hearing:

1.  The bill purports to provide an explanation of the "legislative intent" of the framers of the state constitution.  Amendments to the constitution require that legislation goes through special procedural hoops, none of which are being followed here.  

2.  Courts only look at legislative intent when a statute is ambiguous.  (It's true.  Look it up.)  There's no reason for a court to look at this bill/law unless the statute being applied is ambiguous.  A fairly good argument can be made that we have a couple hundred years of jurisprudence on the issue of "personhood" (not to mention a much longer history of dictionary definition), so it's likely nobody would ever have a reason to look at this bill/law, if enacted.

3.   According to the sponsor's testimony today, the legislator appointed (under Section 2 of the bill) to defend the state in litigation wherein this bill/law is challenged wouldn't have to be a lawyer.  We have a law in North Dakota that says people who defend things in court have to be... wait for it... lawyers.  The sponsor -- a non-lawyer -- said he wants to be the legislator appointed to defend the law in court.  It's called "practicing law without a license" and it's a class A misdemeanor.  Look it up.  (And where the hell is the State Bar Association?!?  Shouldn't they take a position on this?!?)

4.   Section 2 ignores the separation of powers clause.  The Attorney General -- an executive branch elected official -- has been assigned the job of defending laws.  This bill would give that function to a legislative branch official.  This is patently unconstitutional.  

5.  The bill's sponsor testified today that there are two fringe law firms out East that would be willing to defend this law pro bono.  It's his thought that the state could avoid any defense costs by just having one of those firms defend the law.  It was his testimony that his intent iis that that should be done.  This would be a patently unconsitutional delegation of an executive branch power.  

6.  The proponents -- and all the North Dakota House of Representatives members that voted for this bill -- obviously haven't thought about any of the other areas this bill would impact.  Family law, including child support.  Probate.  Criminal law.  Tax law.  Welfare.  Child abuse.  Drinking age (and any other age-related laws).  Education.  This law would hit almost every area of law and the proponents haven't considered any of that.  They have engaged in legislative malpractice.  We should fire all of them, including the Democrats who voted for this bill.  Sorry to say that, but it's what I think.

I could go on.   These are just a few of the constitutional/legal problems with the bill.

Other problems were raised by senators today.  One senator asked the bill's sponsor -- Rep. Ruby -- what would happen if this bill was enacted an it was determined that the life of the woman was at risk if the fertilized egg was allowed to remain in the woman's body for nine months.  Ruby's response was... um... crazy.  He said that any time the woman's life was at risk, the bill would allow for the termination of the pregnancy.  Why is this crazy?  The bill says the fertilized egg has the exact same rights as its host.  If they have the exact same rights, how can one argue that one's rights are superior to the other's rights?  It's an indefensible assertion by Ruby.  It's as if he hasn't even read the bill he's sponsored.  

Therein lies the real problem with this bill.  The people supporting this bill haven't engaged in the kinds of analysis that any intelligent legislator should engage in.  The lack of intellectual curiousity was overwhelming.  

But I have to confess something:  There's a part of me that would like to see this law enacted.   It is so incredibly unconsitutional and so illegal that it's the sort of law that is almost certain to be stricken down by every court that looks at it.  Why is that a good thing?  These proponents want to take it "all the way to the Supreme Court."  That's what they said.  That's a quote.  After every court -- including the Supreme Court (if they even bother to grant cert. on this bill) -- would probably recognize that the State of North Dakota had overstepped its constitutional and legal authority.  At the end of the case, the State of North Dakota could very well be required to pay the huge attorney fees of the opponents of an abortion bill.  Think about the justice in that.  The State of North Dakota could end up funding Planned Parenthood's legal team for three years.  That would be frosting.  It would almost be worth it to have this bill enacted into law, just to see that happen.

But the people of North Dakota deserve better.

 
Steele Toast
Written by Chet   

Steel ToastMichael Steele's days as Chairman of the Republic National Commmittee (RNC) are numbered.  Steele spoke candidly about his position on abortion in an interview for GQ (as pointed out on DailyKos):

How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?

Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it… Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.

Explain that.

The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?

Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

You do?

Yeah. Absolutely.

Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?

I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?

The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.

men.style.com

So Michael Steele's pro-life-ness is based upon women's individual right to choose, which is not really an individual's right, but a state's right?  I hadn't really thought about it that way before.  That's a brilliantly ridiculous position/non-position. 

Put a fork in him.  This guy is toast.

 
ND Corruption Report
Written by Chet   
[UPDATED X 1]
 
NDC

This thing you're looking at (above) is an advertisement from Tuesday's Bismarck Tribune.  I've smudged out the e-mail address.  There's a reason for that.  I think it was irresponsible of the Bismarck Tribune to publish this advertisement without providing more information.

Why?  

Well, think about it.  What do you know about the person behind this advertisment?  Is he a "good guy?"  Is he a "bad guy?"  Will he share your information without your permission?  Will he share your name without your permission?  Is he a corrupt, unethical or dishonest person?  Will he get you fired?  Is this someone with a known and/or well-publicized history of obsessive harassment, stalking and/or violence? 

Seriously.  What if the person behind this advertisement is one of the "corrupt judges, states attorneys, police, probation officers, or any elected officials" the advertiser claims to be seeing to expose?  What if the person behind the ad is a of any of those "corrupt" people?  What if there is a group of bad guys out there, they think they're about to get caught, and they want to find out who's turning them in?  Great way to catch the person who's informing on you, don't you think?

Listen.  I'm all for exposing corruption in government.  I do it all the time.  But you know who I am.  (Or if you've read the "about" page, you know who I am.)  And you know my track record.  People who've come to me with stories about corruption in their workplace know I won't disclose their names without a subpoena or a court order.  (And maybe not even then.)  But we know nothing about the person who placed the ad above.

It just seems incredibly irresponsible for the Bismarck Tribune to allow an ad like this to be published in the official county newspaper.  What if you found out the Bismarck Tribune knows the person behind this advertisement to be an obsessive, harassing and/or violent person?  Wouldn't that seem like the Tribune is setting someone up to get hurt?  Sure, they're almost certainly going to get fired and won't have any recourse, but what if they get physically injured too?  Doesn't the Bismarck Tribune have some responsibility if that happens?

We already know our Government doesn't protect whistle blowers.  We already know our Government retaliates against whistleblowers, and that the Government gets away with it.  We already know our legislature doesn't care to do anything to give whistleblowers more protection.  Now our local newspaper is being used as a tool to identify all the other whistleblowers so they can be appropriately "dealt with?"  Is the Bismarck Tribune actively engaging in helping someone victimize -- or re-victimize -- good, honest, hard-working people of North Dakota?

If so, shame on you Bismarck Tribune.

[UPDATE #1Click here to read my Q&A with the person behind the ad.]

 
ND's Only Democratic Statewide Partisan Race Official To Resign
Written by Chet   
Video clip of ND Ag Commisioner Roger Johnson
at the DNC Convention in Denver in August 2008

North Dakota's partisan Republicans should be celebrating in the streets today.  Soon they'll be handed the only partisan-race office currently held by a Democratic-NPLer in North Dkaota.  North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson was elected as the president of the National Farmers Union organization today and will resign his office as ND Ag Commissioner soon.

Gov. John Hoeven will name a successor to fill out the remaining two years on Johnson’s term.

Hoeven is expected to pick a fellow Republican. The appointee would be the first Republican in the office in 20 years. Democrat Sarah Vogel served two terms before Johnson. Another Democrat. Republican Kent Jones served from 1981 to 1988.

Ron Rauschenberger, Hoeven’s chief of staff, said the governor has not set a timeline for deciding on Johnson’s successor. He said half a dozen people have expressed interest in the job, including Lance Gaebe, Hoeven’s deputy chief of staff and agriculture policy adviser, and Doug Goehring, who twice was defeated by Johnson.

Fargo Forum

I assume it will be Goehring.  Gaebe, a nice enough guy, has never run for office (has he?), probably doesn't have the kind of background needed for the job and has never been in charge of a statewide political campaign, to my knowledge.   Goehring ran a couple close races against Johnson, despite the controversy surrounding his role in scandals at the Nodak Mutual insurance.  (Click here and click here for more on that.)  Goehring would likely continue to have the ultra-conservative Farm Bureau behind him.  But our lazy, inneffective press barely followed or understood the Goehring-Nodak-Poolman story when it was happening, and nobody in North Dakota's media was smart enough to understand it even after I dumbed it down and spoon-fed it to them.

It will be interesting to see which political hack Hoeven puts into this position.  And it'll be interesting to watch the Republicans and their mouthpieces at their official newspaper, the Bismarck Tribune, go after Johnson for leaving in a way they will continue to ignorantly characterize as being "similar" to Jim Poolman's departure.  But that's okay.  An ineffective, disinformational, lazy media isn't quite so bad once you get used to it. 

 
My Open Letter to the State House Committee on Human Services
Written by Adam   

From: Adam

To:Robin Weisz, Vonnie Pietsch, Tom Conklin, Kari L. Conrad, Chuck Damschen, Robert Frantsvog, Curt Hofstad, Richard G. Holman, Robert Kilichowski, Michael R. Nathe, Todd Porter, Louise Potter, Gerry Uglem

Subject: S.B. 2278


Dear Human Resources Committee Member,

I am writing to you today to urge your support of SB 2278. As I'm sure you are aware, this bill bans employers from discriminating against their workers based on sexual orientation, and is going to come under your committee's consideration shortly. This legislation is an important step that is necessary to insure that employers are evaluating their employees based on their ability to do their job instead of basing decisions on their own personal prejudices.

We can argue over gay marriage, or civil unions, or any other number of issues affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgender individuals, but there should be no question about a person's right to go to work and bring home a paycheck without a person's sexual preference hindering their ability to support themselves.

There is absolutely no evidence that an individual's sexual orientation affects their ability to do a job. Allowing employers to discriminate based on anything that doesn't affect a worker's performance on the job is bad economics, is unfair to workers, unfair to customers, and only helps employers rationalize personal prejudices. The GLBT community is not asking for much, just to be treated fairly, and without prejudice. They(and I in support of them) just want the government to make sure that the market makes rational decisions, not irrational ones that cost us all more in the long run. Please support this important legislation,

Thank you,

Adam Blomeke
NorthDecoder.com


 
John Irby Completely Misses The Point Again
Written by Chet   

Today Bismarck Tribune editor John Irby bloviates about how similar the move by former North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman into a job as "consultant" for companies in the industry he regulated after receiving tens of thousands of dollars (for himself and North Dakota's Republican Party) is to the possible move by North Dakota's Ag Commissioner Roger Johnson to the position of president of the National Farmer's Union.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson announced he would resign from his state post if he is elected to serve as National Farmers Union president. We'll know the outcome in a few days.

I like Johnson. Some time back I met with him at his office and was introduced to several of his staff members, and we snacked on fresh fruit. It seemed like a fun place to work and we had good discussions.

But the political bed he has made might get a bit uncomfortable.

While not the exact situation, Johnson's possible departure is similar to former Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman, who resigned from his position to become a consultant. A Republican, Poolman took major political heat from Democrats for leaving his office early.

Bismarck Tribune

"Not the exact situation," John?!?  Seriously?!?  

Irby completely misses the point of the criticism of Poolman for leaving his elected position as top regulator of insurance companies in North Dakota.  Here's a refresher:  Poolman -- in his capacity as North Dakota's Insurance Commissioner -- served [as chairman of] a committee at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).  On that committee, he strong armed "model legislation" -- laws to be proposed in every state in the country -- that favored a single company over all other companies in an insurance-related industry, the viatical settlement industry.  At the time, Poolman was taking tens of thousands of dollars in non-campaign campaign contributions (i.e. he never ran for office after receiving the money) from an executive at that one company, and his wife.  Then he ushered the same law through North Dakota's legislature, without disclosing his improper relationship with the company.  Then he announced he was leaving his post as Insurance Commissioner because he had received "an offer he couldn't refuse," but he couldn't tell anybody what that offer was.  It was a big secret, but he was going to go do some "consulting" for someone in the insurance industry.  

For the whole story, click here, John.  It's the story your newspaper never did a meaningful job of covering.

For some follow-up on what Poolman's "butt healing" process has included, click here.  It's another Poolman story your newspaper never covered.

Now, only today, months or years after you and your newspaper have ignored these stories about North Dakota's former insurance commissioner, you disclose that Poolman is your neighbor.  

Nice. 

Next, we'll find out that the reason your paper hasn't written anything about the junkets Adam Hamm and his staff take many times a year -- though he claims the most they get is an occasional back-yard barbeque -- is that he's also a neighbor.

 
Saturday Diversion:Bob Marley
Written by Adam   

Is this Love?

 
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