Follow us on Facebook

Latest Comments

ND Outdoors Sites


Featured Link


Login Form

Support NorthDecoder

Search This Site


Amazon Search Widget

Feature Stories

The Low Road

Amazon Search

JoomlaWatch 1.2.12 - Joomla Monitor and Live Stats by Matej Koval
State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt: Law Breaker?
Written by Chet   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008 09:53

BannerI'm going to try to walk you through something I think is kind of a big deal.  You might disagree.  You might say, "it's pre-election silly season," and that's fine.  That doesn't make what I'm about to show you any less offensive.  Or less criminal.  (Allegedly.)

Follow along:

1.  North Dakota's State Treasurer is Kelly Schmidt.  The duties of the State Treasurer are set forth in North Dakota Century Code section 54-11-01 that you can read -- if you're really bored -- by clicking here

2.  The State Treasurer runs a website you can see by clicking here (pdf).  You'll notice that right below the Treasurer's photograph there's a little box alternating between saying "Manage Your Financial Future" and "Tomorrows' Money."  That's an advertisement. 

3.  If you click on that advertisement, you'll be taken to this page (pdf), which is a letter to you from North Dakota's Treasurer.  The Treasurer, in her letter, says she wants to help you with your planning for a "path to a successful financial future."  (Interestingly, I'd note that helping you with that planning is not one of the duties of the State Treasurer that's outlined in the statute I suggested you should read if you're really bored.). 

4.  Within her letter, the Treasurer invites you to link to a website called "northdakota.tomorrowsmoney.org " (pdf).  You'll get to that page and you'll think to yourself (quietly, I hope), "Hey!  There's the Great Seal for the State of North Dakota in the upper right left-hand corner, and it says 'North Dakota State Treasurer' so I must still be on a state government website."  You'd think that, of course, because you're a smart NorthDecoder.com reader and you know it's a Class B misdemeanor (click here) to use the Great Seal for the State of North Dakota for non-State purposes (with limited exceptions, none of which seem to apply here).  Well, you'd be right that it's a crime to use the Great Seal, but you'd be wrong about whether you were still on a State of North Dakota website. 

See, you've crossed over into the land of the United States Bond Market Foundation and their promotional website, "TomorrowsMoney.org." What is the "Bond Market Foundation?" you ask?  Good question.  

The Bond Market Foundation (TBMF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable and educational entity organized by members of the bond market industry. The Foundation was re-launched in 2000 to harness resources to help society strengthen communities.

TBMF is an educational and charitable partner of the Bond Market Association's membership. The Association graciously contributes the net proceeds from its Annual Awards Dinner; however, the Foundation raises money and is expected to operate on independent outside financing. The Foundation's Charter Partners are MBIA and Gartmore Global Investments/Gartmore Group. Barclays Capital is a contributing Partner. Project partners include the Bear Stearns Charitable Foundation. Other funding comes from individuals and foundations both within and outside the bond industry.
NorthDakota.TomorrowsMoney.Org (pdf)

Being the observant NorthDecoder reader that you are -- having had your brain trained to look for these sorts of things -- you will have noticed the Great Seal of the State of North Dakota, again, in the left-hand margin of that "about" page I just pointed you to, just above the North Dakota State Treasurer's name.  You'll again think to yourself, "This must be a State of North Dakota website, because it would be ANOTHER crime for them to have put it on this second page."  Again, you would be right that it could be a crime, but you would be wrong about being on a State of North Dakota website.

You might spend some time looking around on that website and find numerous other pages with the North Dakota Great Seal at the top of the page, next to our State Treasurer's name, or in the left-hand margin.  If you're like me you'll wonder "How many of those uses of the Great Seal are criminal, and how many are not criminal?"  You won't know.  Because nobody's been charged with a crime.  Yet.  (Feel free to contact your local law enforcement person or prosecutor and report a crime if you feel you've just witnessed one.)

Then you'll go back and read that "about" information (indented, above) and you'll say "Who is this 'Bond Market Association' and what have they done to get our State Treasurer to co-opt the Great Seal and "partner" with them to have our Seal put on their website?"  That too will be a great question.  

I'm going to leave that question open for today, but I will give you a couple things to chew on:  (1) do you think the Bond Market Association (or Foundation) has any kind of "other" relationship with our State Treasurer?  Hmmm...  That might be worth looking into; and (2) If you click here (pdf), you will find a list of 60 or so of the members of the Bond Market Association.  [And, oops, there's that Great Seal again.]  Some of them that may be of interest to you include "Bear, Stearns" and "Edward Jones."  Do those companies' names ring a bell to anybody out there?

If you're like me, you're probably still stuck back there in #2, above, where I've pointed out the fact that there is an "advertisement" for the Bond Market Foundation right there on our State Treasurer's website.  You probably think that's a scandal in and of itself.  The fact that the Great Seal is plastered all over a private foundation's website hasn't sunk in yet.  You're probably not ready to think about the possibility there might be other connections "of interest."  We'll let this stuff sink in a little before we continue this story. 

Because this story is... 

(to be continued)

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Tonight
Written by Chet   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008 08:54

E-mail just in from the Democratic-NPL party today:

If you are in the Bismarck area, we urge you to come out tonight to support governor candidate Sen. Tim Mathern in his first debate with John Hoeven.

Mathern will be laying out his vision for a better North Dakota and a governor's office that cares about all people, not just the rich and powerful. 

The debate is being held at the City/County Building, 221 N. Fifth St., tonight. It begins at 6:30 p.m., but seating is limited to 100 people, so please come early to get your seat.

DemNPL e-mail (no link)

These debates usually happen in the Tom Baker Room, which is downstairs in the City/County building.  This one might be interesting.

Update - Adam

Word is that the debate will be webcast here at freetv.org

I might liveblog.  We'll have to see...

How is this happening in a Democratic congress?
Written by Adam   
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 08:27
This is why congress's approval rating is so low:

The party leadership now appears likely to allow a vote on offshore drilling as early as this Thursday - but will wrap the measure into a genuinely progressive energy package designed to boost the renewable-energy sector, establish new efficiency rules for buildings, and overhaul tax provisions for oil companies. That’s essentially an attempt to call the GOP’s bluff, forcing lawmakers to show their true colors in a vote that would allow drilling, but would also boost genuinely clean energy at the expense of Big Oil.

This is happening because of a few "Republic" whiners that held a sit-in with the lights off whining as if the fate of america hung in the balance.  forget that it will have no impact on prices now(unless the speculators decide to let oil prices freefall to make it look like it is having this massive PR impact), forget that the oil industry is not drilling where they already have leases, forget that republicans are in the minority and don't control the agenda, Democrats are going to let the Republicans control the agenda again.  Just like they did on Iraq, just like they did on SCHIP, just like they have done on every other issue the past two years.  I frankly don't care if the president is going to keep vetoing it.  He will lose that battle, as would McCain if he were called to answer for his vote.  Instead, we are not only having a vote on offshore drilling, we are letting the tax credits for wind energy expire at the end of the year and the democrats won't take that vote up again , nor will they take a vote on SCHIP

The congressional leadership needs to get their heads screwed on straight.  Even if you do lose on those votes, you have them on the floor.  Then you can go to the voters in November and say, "See, the republicans care about oil more than they care about wind.  They care more about insurance companies than they care about our children.  they care more about investors on Wall Street than they care about families on Main Street.  And that's why you need to vote Democrat."  Instead they are laying down on the issue and letting the Republicans win

More and better.  More and better.
And That's Not All!
Written by Adam   
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 04:07

Does this sound familiar?

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.
Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official "duty station" is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.
The governor's daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show. 

Sounds kinda like a state legislator I know of...

This not only reflects poorly on Palin, who is keeping our eye off of the ball, McSame.  What on earth was this man thinking asking someone to be his Vice President after meeting her once, and having her fill out a questionnaire.  Don't you like...do opposition research on them, thoroughly vet them, make sure they pass muster?  I guess when James Dobson and Pat Robertson tell you that you are supposed to pick her that means God has spoken and you need to listen.  

That's change we can believe in....

Is Palin Really More of the Same?
Written by Chet   
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 02:53

GWPYou know how Americans have all suffered through the lies and secrecy of the Bush Administration over the past 7.8 years?  You know how McCain-Palin keeps promising "change"?  

Check out this story: 

The Palin administration won't release hundreds of emails from her office, claiming they cover confidential policy matters. Then why do the subject lines refer to a political foe, a journalist, and non-policy topics?

In June, Andrée McLeod, a self-described independent government watchdog in Alaska, sent an open records act request to the office of Governor Sarah Palin. She requested copies of all the emails that had been sent and received by Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey, two top aides to Palin, from February through April of this year. McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich. (Bailey has been in the national news of late for refusing to cooperate with investigators probing whether Palin fired Alaska's public safety commission because he did not dismiss a state trooper who had gone through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister.)

In response to her request, McLeod received four large boxes of emails. This batch of documents did not contain any proof that Frye and Bailey had worked on government time to boot out Ruedrich. But there was other information she found troubling. Several of the emails suggested to her that Palin's office had used its influence to reward a Fairbanks surveyor who was a Palin fundraiser with a state job. In early August, McLeod filed a complaint with the state attorney general against Palin, Bailey, and other Palin aides, claiming they had violated ethics and hiring laws. Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential candidate, told the Alaska Daily News that "there were no favors done for anybody."

But more intriguing than any email correspondence contained in the four boxes was what was not released: about 1100 emails. Palin's office provided McLeod with a 78-page list (PDF) cataloging the emails it was withholding. Many of them had been written by Palin or sent to her. Palin's office claimed most of the undisclosed emails were exempt from release because they were covered by the "executive" or "deliberative process" privileges that protect communications between Palin and her aides about policy matters. But the subject lines of some of the withheld emails suggest they were not related to policy matters. Several refer to one of Palin's political foes, others to a well-known Alaskan journalist. Moreover, some of the withhold emails were CC'ed to Todd Palin, the governor's husband. Todd Palin—a.k.a. the First Dude—holds no official state position (though he has been a close and influential adviser for Governor Palin). The fact that Palin and her aides shared these emails with a citizen outside the government undercuts the claim that they must be protected under executive privilege. McLeod asks, "What is Sarah Palin hiding?"

AlterNet.org (read the whole thing)

She professes to have been against the Bridge To Nowhere, but then we find out she actually advocated for the Bridge to Nowhere, and kept all the Bridge To Nowhere money.

She's professes to be a fiscal conservative, but then we find out she increased spending by 33% in the little Alaskan village where she was mayor, repeatedly redecorating her own mayoral office and taking the town from zero debt to $22 million in debt.

She claims to be pro-family, but then we find out she used the line-item veto to slash funding for teenaged mothers who were less fortunate than her own pregnant seventeen year old daughter.

I've been lied to by secretive neocons and fundamentalist religious end-timers in the White House -- who think "the ends justify the means" -- for the last 8 years.  I'm about tired of being lied to.  

Measure 4 (regarding WSI) Approved by SOS
Written by Chet   
Monday, 08 September 2008 04:10

I just received word from one of the measure committee members that Ballot Measure 4 -- regarding curing some of the defects in North Dakota's Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) system -- has been approved as to form by the North Dakota Secretary of State's office [and has enough signatures to be on the November 2008 ballot].  Read the ballot measure petition by clicking here (it's short and pretty easy to understand).

WSI has some interesting perspectives on the measure.  Last week they gave me an internal memorandum addressing some of their perspectives.  You can read it by clicking here and reading pages 13 through 15.

North Dakota's Measure 2: The Takeaway
Written by Chet   
Monday, 08 September 2008 00:50

There are a lot of things you might say about Duane Sand's initiated measure (Measure 2).  You might say that it's an irresponsible way to blindly reduce the State of North Dakota's revenue sources at a time when we don't even know what the State's bills are.  You might say that it's sponsored by an astroturf group funded, we all think (but don't know because they won't tell us) by out-of-state big businesses looking out for their corporate bottom line.  You might say that ballot proponents have been charged, criminally, with ballot fraud for (allegedly) faking signatures on ballot petitions, etc.  You might say that the Attorney General's Office run by Wayne Stenehjem (R) screwed up by approving the ballot title in the way that they did. You might say that the Secretary of State's Office run by Al Jaeger (R) screwed up and might be illegally modifying approved ballot measure language after it has authority to do so. Here's the language:

This initiated statutory measure would amend sections 57-38-30 and 57-38-30.3 of the North Dakota Century Code.   This initiated measure would amend sections 57-38-30 and 57-38-30.3 of the North Dakota Century Code for tax years beginning after December 31, 2008 by lowering the state corporate income tax rates by fifteen percent and the adjusted state income tax rates by fifty percent, except for one taxpayer bracket where the reduction would be forty-five percent and for two other brackets where some income would not be taxed.

YES – Means you approve the measure as summarized above.

NO – Means you reject the measure as summarized above. 

NDSOS (emphasis added by NorthDecoder.com)

You can say that it's causing a division in North Dakota's Republican Party that's kinda fun to watch from a distance.

But what I love most about North Dakota's Measure 2 -- and what you should take away from all of this -- is that Measure 2 is littered with "typographical" errors that its proponents think should be "corrected" by others (but not "other" others) because Duane Sand and his friends at Americans "for" Prosperity didn't bother to take 10 minutes to proofread it, and they want you to vote to adopt their junk into law.

Yeah, I want to send this guy to Congress.

Voting for this initiated measure wouldn't just be irresponsponsible; it'd be stupid.

Happy Monday: Never Gonna
Written by Chet   
Monday, 08 September 2008 00:11

Barack Astley

North Dakota: The Lay of the Land
Written by Chet   
Saturday, 06 September 2008 19:00

[Updated X 1]

While in Denver for the DNC convention, I had a couple opportunities to visit with Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga, the founder of DailyKos.com.  Markos knew North Dakota was in play but he noted our state has kept below the radar fairly well.  He really wanted to know more about what's going on here and asked me to give him a "lay of the land."  While we talked, Rick Spisak of AveryVoice.com was shooting video of at least part of our conversation.  Next thing you know... it's on YouTube.

Over the course of the week I've gathered information from various sources and wrote up an e-mail to Markos.  I sent it off and Kos has since asked me to post the info here.  Here goes:

North Dakota

The population of North Dakota is about 650,000.  To the extent you want to believe what you read on Wikipedia, North Dakota's largest City is Fargo with about 100,000 people and a metro area of about 195,000 people.  The state's two main political parties are the Republican Party and the Democratic-NPL (Non-Partisan League) Party.  The NPL has a rich history going back to the early 1900's and generally relates to prairie populism with a smattering of socialism We're the only state with a state-owned Bank and a state-owned Mill and Elevator.  Every now and then a Republican will call the Democratic-NPL party "Marxists" or "Socialists," but, strangely, nobody here -- not even Republicans -- ever talks about getting rid of our socialized bank or mill and elevator.  It's kinda funny.  

North Dakota's congressional delegation is made up of two Democratic-NPL Senators (Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan) and one Congressman (Earl Pomeroy).  Conrad and Dorgan are considered fairly progressive Democrats, though both are also considered to be fiscal conservatives who aggressively monitor our nation's purse strings.  Many Democrats here and elsewhere feel Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and known for his attention to detail and his use of charts, voted wrong on FISA and the confirmation of Sam Alito, but also, significantly, feel he voted right on authorization of the use of force in the war in Iraq.  Dorgan, author of Take This Job and Ship It, chairs the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and is chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee.  Both senators are very popular here.  Neither is on the ballot this year.  Pomeroy, who serves on the House Ways and Means and House Ag committees, is a "blue dog" who, again, many disagree with his position on FISA, but he is incredibly accessible and popular.  His seat seems secure in a race against a Republican opponent who doesn't even seem to have the support of the leadership in his own party. 

Yesterday Xavier Cromartie at the Daily Kos pointed out the importance of North Dakota (and Montana) in the November election.  Cromartie points out that our three electoral votes could be the difference between an Obama presidency and a McCain presidency.  Cromartie calls for help in registering voters here, but that reflects a common misunderstanding about North Dakota's landscape.  See (for those of you not from here), North Dakota is the only state in the U.S. that does not have any form of voter registration.  Any citizen who shows up with a driver's license or other statutorily acceptable proof of residency is allowed to vote.  And we have the usual HAVA ability of voters to vote by provisional ballot if there is some question about eligibility too vote, though – as usual – a regular ballot is always preferred. So voter registration doesn't help us.  What North Dakota needs isn't voter registration.  What North Dakota needs are (a) better small-donor fundraising mechanisms and (b) stronger down-ticket campaign operations.  These two obviously go hand in hand.  I'll try to explain why these things are important.

 Many North Dakotans -- including leadership and top candidates for both Democrats and Republicans -- favor hunting rights and favor reduction in the numbers of abortions.  North Dakota's white, homogenous population is Norwegian-Lutheran and German-Catholic, religions.  Our fundamentalist Christian friends and neighbors are doing a fine job of populating our state.  The movie "Jesus Camp" was about a fundamentalist bible camp right here in North Dakota.  Our Native American population -- and our Indian Reservation counties -- lean strongly Democratic.  At a parade yesterday in the state's capital of Bismarck, it seemed as though every other parade entrant was carrying a sign that said "First Americans for Obama."  

Photos Courtesy of JL

 Our Republican Media

The Democratic-NPL party in North Dakota, over much of the past 20 or 25 years, has been unheard and unseen.  Republicans hold all of North Dakota's statewide elected offices except for Agriculture Commissioner, an office held by Roger Johnson, a Dem-NPLer.  Republican Governor John Hoeven polls higher than any other governor in the nation, with approval numbers occasionally bumping up to the mid to high 80s.  Hoeven gets a free pass from the state's largest newspaper outlet – Forum Communications, Inc., which owns 4 or 5 of the state's largest daily newspapers (Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, Dickinson Press, and the Pioneer Journal of West Fargo [which may be a weekly, I'm not sure]) and TV stations in four of North Dakota's largest cities.  Forum Communications is owned by the Marcil family.  Bill Marcill is said to be a very close, personal, long-time family friend of John Hoeven's father, a wealthy banker in Minot, North Dakota.  This relationship is clearly reflected in the pages of Forum newspapers and on the Forum-owned TV stations.  Forum Communications had at least two (2) reporters at the RNC convention in St. Paul after having exactly zero (0) writers at the DNC convention in Denver. 

The Bismarck Tribune – likely the state's next largest newspaper – is owned by Lee Enterprises.  You may know that Lee Enterprises is sucking air right now, with stock prices plummeting and no bottom in sight.  The Bismarck Tribune's editorials lean far to the right and support Democratic-NPLers only half-heartedly and only when they "have to" to give an appearance of objectivity.  Otherwise, Tribune writers and editors are almost never critical of Hoeven or any other Republican.  Not only that, but they are critical of anybody who dares to be critical of their pal Hoeven, Republicans, GOP policies and/or their scandals.  North Dakota's TV and radio is pretty disappointing, too, having last engaged in hard investigative journalism during the Eisenhower administration.

Because of this imbalance in media coverage and scrutiny, the Dem-NPL candidate for governor -- Senator Tim Mathern -- doesn't have much of a chance to beat Hoeven unless some Hoeven-related scandal is uncovered.  If such a scandal is uncovered, don't look for it in any North Dakota newspaper or on radio or TV until after it shows up on NorthDecoder.com.  That is just our reality.

 North Dakota's Republican Legislature

Until 2 years ago, Republicans held a super-majority in both houses of the North Dakota legislature.  Their majority was strong enough that they could override a veto without the help of any Democrats, and could (and did) basically ignore the Democratic-NPL caucus, sometimes even going on the offensive against Democratic-NPLers to "put them in their place."  The right-leaning media in North Dakota has also largely ignored the Democratic party, primarily interviewing them in response to controversial Republican proposals, and then portraying their responses as "whining."  

Things changed a little leading up to the election in 2006.  The North Dakota Democratic-NPL party had hired a communications director.  Somehow -- mysteriously -- Democrats started getting their message out.  There were press releases, media advisories, letters to the editor, press conferences and constant contact between the party and reporters and editorial staff all over the state.  Instead of always playing defense, the party started playing some offense.  This blog -- NorthDecoder -- showed up, too, and started to show the state's major newspapers what investigative reporting looked like.  Suddenly -- mysteriously -- Republican scandals started to show up every now and then.  Unfortunately, the party lost its communications director a few months ago and has failed to replace him, noting "other priorities."  If North Dakota Democrats don't do well in November, this will be one of the big reasons why.

Today Republicans hold 26 seats to Democratic-NPLers holding 21 seats in the state Senate.  If Democrats pick up three (3) senate seats, they will have a majority in the state senate.  Some Senatorial districts look very available to the Democratic senatorial candidates. 

 Across the hall in the state capitol, Democratic-NPLers are outnumbered 60 to 33 in the House of Representatives.   It would take a modern miracle for Republicans to lose that majority in November of 2008.  DakotaPolitics.com has a good breakdown of the current legislative status here:  http://www.dakotapolitics.com/legis_2007

In the 2006 election the Dem-NPL picked up more legislative seats (by percentage) than any other state party picked up in any other state legislative body.  Here's an excerpt of an analysis written by North Dakota's former DemNPL executive director, Jim Fuglie, right after the 2006 election: 

Tuesday's election was a bit unusual [ ]. There were a total of 51 incumbent Legislators on the ballot Tuesday, and 11 of them lost. 40 were re-elected.  About 80 percent.  Interestingly all 11 were Republicans. No incumbent Democrat lost (okay, to be fair, the GOP had a lot more incumbents running than we did, but still . . .).

So if you get elected to the Legislature here in North Dakota, the odds are at least 4 in 5 that you will be re-elected. So these people get to know each other, become friends, and there's much less acrimony in the Legislature than most other places, I think.

There will be an unusually high number of new Legislators in the capitol this winter, however. Because of retirements and the 11 Legislators losing, there will be 23 new Legislators in the next session. Sixteen of them Democrats and 7 Republicans (Oooohhh, it was fun to write that).

It can be expected that the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party will target senate seats in districts like District 42, a university district in Grand Forks, where there were no legislative races (because even numbered legislative districts didn't have legislative races) in 2006 but where Democrats won every statewide race in 2006 except for the A.G.'s race in which a former Grand Forks legislator, Wayne Stenehjem, avoided the scandals he's been unable to avoid since.  There were similarly Dem favorable results in District 42 in the 2008 Primary and there are strong Dem-NPL candidates running for all three legislative seats.  District 18, also in and around Grand Forks, is another example of a district where Democrats did well in 2006 and have some hope of picking up legislative seats.  District 18's numbers also looked pretty good for Democrats in the 2008 Primary.  There are other districts where Democratic legislative candidates are hoping to find supportive voters.

Republican Scandals

During the past 18 months or so, North Dakota's Republican Party leadership has been plagued by scandals relating to our Workers Compensation Bureau (Workforce Safety and Insurance [WSI]).  Our current WSI scheme has been constructed over the past 15 to 20 years by Republican legislators, with the support of our Republican governors, to provide kick-backs in the form of "dividends" and "safety grants" to big business and Republican-friendly organizations.  The Exec Director -- recruited out of the fall-out from Ohio's workers comp scandal -- resigned amid his own various scandals (e.g. criminal charges relating to alleged misspending of public money, etc.) earlier this year and the Chairman of the Board also resigned when the newspapers could no longer ignore the scandals being exposed here on NorthDecoder.com in a blog post I entitled "Why Bob Indvik Should Resign."  The E.D.'s criminal charges were dismissed by a district court judge, appealed by the prosecutors to our Supreme Court, the dismissal was reversed and the felony criminal case is still pending.  The former board chairman avoided criminal charges probably by resigning from the board, his county government job and by moving some money around in a way that might also have been illegal.  Both of these Work Comp resignations -- and an assortment of other departures from WSI -- happened, in part, because of public records exposed here on NorthDecoder.com.  The State Auditor's Office is currently looking into another issue that could potentially blow the lid off a multi-million dollar illegal government handout shrouded in secrecy by Republican-favored exceptions to our state's open records laws. 

Many are expecting a report from Republican State Auditor Bob Peterson laying out the problems with the program, but the word on the street is that State Auditor Bob Peterson (R) is being pressured by the Governor and the Attorney General to stall the report or to water it down for obvious (and some not-so-obvious) reasons.  After decades of holding most of the statewide elected offices and supermajorities in the legislature, more than anything else, North Dakota's Republicans are afraid of being held accountable.

One of the many victims of North Dakota's WSI scandals is Jim Long.  Long was a top-level official at WSI.  He blew the whistle on the corruption he witnessed and, along with three other insiders, Long was fired after seeking whistleblower protection. Long is running for a state Senate seat in District 14, is working hard to replace his entrenched opponent and is working hard for small donations to help his campaign. 

Another Republican party scandal involves our former Insurance Commissioner, Jim Poolman (R), who resigned about a year ago and went to work in the insurance industry after lobbying for legislation that was beneficial to one particular New York company called Inscap.  I broke this story on NorthDecoder.com and the state's media -- though they read this website every day -- knew about it but ignored it for months but eventually picked it up when out-of-state news entities started covering it.  An Inscap executive and the exec's wife donated something like $35,000 to Poolman and the ND GOP during the period of time when Poolman was lobbying for the pro-Inscap legislation in North Dakota and as a model law supported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).  Poolman resigns and... guess who he goes to work for!!!  

The NAIC has since enacted a watered-down ethics rule purporting to stop state regulators from doing what Poolman did.  I like to call the new rule "the Poolman Rule."  Poolman's Governor-appointed replacement -- a political newcomer/hack -- was caught, recently, abusing federal dollars to produce and broadcast "public service announcements" to elevate his name I.D. in T.V. and radio ads.  The states' TV stations have agreed to give his opponent, Jasper Schneider (D), equal time under the FCC's "equal time" rule.  Schneider, a strong Dem-NPL legislator is using that "equal time" but -- unlike the Republican -- he can't use tax money to pay for his ads.  Schneider has to raise money to catch up.  Aside from the taxpayer money he's spending, the Republuican's campaign is being bankrolled, primarily, by Poolman's insurance industry buddies and by the Republican's parents.

The Cost of North Dakota Campaigns

Political campaigns in North Dakota are relatively inexpensive.  The word I get from inside the Dem-NPL party is that the average state legislative campaign runs on a budget of about $8,000 to $12,000 per candidate.  An incumbent's race in a rural area might be a little less expensive than that, but in bigger towns an aggressive challenger's campaign might cost $40,000 or $50,000.  A legitimate challenger's statewide campaign will cost at least $100,000, and probably twice that.  Entrenched Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) was able to win his re-election two years ago after reporting only 18 donors totaling $16,400 in contributions.   Radio and TV ads are relatively inexpensive here, compared to many other states.  Compared to other states, North Dakota is a cheap place to run a campaign.  Democratic-NPLers here haven't done very well at tapping into small online contributions so far, but they've told me they're working on that.  If the party did better at small-donor fundraising, it would help deflect the big criticism the party gets from right-wingers; that the party has historically gotten much of its operating budget from donors whose contributions come through our federal congressional delegation.  Without more small dollar donations, the party will continue to depend on the congressional delegation.  Political contributions under $200 don't have to be reported in North Dakota.  The party accepts small donations -- $5, $10, $20 and up to $200 -- online.

Polling and other recent N.D. info regarding Obama/McCain

Sept 1, 2008 – Last weekend, the North Dakota United Transportation Union (UTU) released data from its recent poll showing Obama leading in North Dakota, currently, by 3 points, with a margin of error of +/- 5%.  I received the press release as I was typing this summary to you.  (I can forward it to you if you're interested.)    Governor Hoeven (R) leads in the poll by 63% to 19% over state Senator Tim Mathern, a long shot. 

Aug 25, 2008 – Jamestown Sun – McCain seems to have abandoned North Dakota's Republicans, having announced he will not open any offices in North Dakota.  (click here).  By comparison, Obama's campaign has announced it intends to have 12 offices opened in the state by October 1st, in 11 towns/cities, including 2 offices in Fargo.  The smallest town on the list of likely Obama office towns in October is Linton, a great little town in southcentral N.D. with a population of about 1,300.  Five of the nine currently opened offices had their Grand Openings this week.

July 21 - 23, 2008 -- Research 2000/DailyKos -- McCain was up by a statistically insignificant 3 points. 

July 10, 2008 – Rasmussen Reports – "North Dakota is as safe a Republican state as any in Presidential elections. George W. Bush carried the state by twenty-seven points in Election 2004 and twenty-eight points four years earlier. The state has voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate just once since 1936 and three times since 1916. Despite that history, John McCain and Barack Obama are tied in the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of North Dakota voters. Both men earn 43% of the vote. When leaners are included, McCain holds a statistically insignificant one-point advantage, 47% to 46%"  (Click here )

July 2, 2008 – NorthDecoder.com – at a 4th of July picnic (on July 2), Sen. Kent Conrad spoke.  During his talk, Conrad said internal polling numbers were, at that time, showing Obama leading in North Dakota by 1%.  (Click here ).

April 3, 2008 -- Dakota Weslayan -- McCain was reportedly up by 6 points in North Dakota.  

Mar 6, 2008 – Survey USANorth Dakota 3 electoral college votes   McCain – 42%   ///////  Obama - 46%   3 EC votes for Obama.


North Dakota is in play, but it will take a lot of work and some new financial support and some state party legwork to turn the state blue.  The Obama campaign is doing great work. They have a solid team on the ground here and are building and growing every day.  The Obama campaign organized fifty-nine "watch parties" for Senator Obama's acceptance speech in Denver, compared to the McCain campaign's four.  There are currently 1,000 active volunteers working for the Obama campaign and -- with no offices -- one could guess there aren't 20 McCain volunteers in North Dakota.  

The real question in North Dakota isn't whether the Obama campaign can do the job (yes, they can); the question is does the the rest of the Democratic Party here have the resources to provide the foundational support the Obama campaign needs.  That remains to be seen.

[Welcome Kossacks!!!  You're killing the gerbils in my little server.]

[Update #1:  Rasmussen Reports shows huge post-convention McCain bump in poll released September 10, 2008.]

<< Start < 181 182 183 184 185 186 188 190 > End >>

Page 188 of 253