sunny.png
Wednesday June 3rd, 2020 8:18AM

North Dakota governor funds PAC targeting fellow Republican

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Burgum is helping bankroll a political action campaign that so far has set its sights on defeating one of the state's most powerful legislators, a member of his own party.

The move to campaign against House Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer in the June primary has drawn criticism that the first-term Republican governor and wealthy former software executive is crossing the separation-of-powers-line by reaching deep into his own pockets to buy a Legislature more obliging to his wishes. Political and election law experts say such a move by a governor to oust a member of his own party is unusual.

Burgum turned down interview requests from The Associated Press to discuss the contributions. There is nothing in state law that prohibits such contributions, said John Bjornson, director of the Legislative Council, the Legislature’s nonpartisan research arm.

Burgum’s relationship with the Legislature was rocky even before he took office. The former Microsoft executive largely self-funded his campaign and ran as an outsider, angering legislators from both parties with TV ads that said they had squandered much of the state’s oil bounty and criticizing what he called the “good old boy” establishment.

“He’s forming his own good old boys club,” said Republican state Rep. Rick Becker, of Bismarck, an ultraconservative and former gubernatorial candidate who has taken to social media criticizing Burgum and his political maneuvering. “He’s being very ‘handsy’ in trying to get a Legislature which will abide by his desires politically.”

The GOP-led Legislature has clashed with Burgum over the governor’s veto powers in the past two legislative sessions, and with many of his spending priorities.

One of his main foes has been Delzer, a bachelor farmer with a reputation for tight-fisted budgeting, who has served in the Legislature for parts of four decades from a sprawling rural district north of the capital city.

Delzer was a big part of an effort last year that amended longstanding rules to essentially disregard Burgum's budget proposal and use the Legislature’s previous budget as a starting point instead. He also was an outspoken critic of Burgum's top priority, a proposed Theodore Roosevelt presidential library in western North Dakota, though that ultimately was approved by the Legislature.

Campaign filings show the governor contributed $195,000 to the Dakota Leadership PAC, headed by two of his former policy advisers. With Burgum’s money, the PAC has raised about $400,000, much of it from out-of-state donors and two of the governor’s relatives, filings show.

Robbie Lauf, Burgum’s former policy adviser and the head of his first election campaign, said in emails that the PAC was formed to “help elect conservative Republicans who share the governor's vision.” Lauf said it's supporting candidates in six campaigns and one for state treasurer. Lauf declined to name the legislative candidates, but the PAC has supported a pair of Delzer's challengers, David Andahl and Dave Nehring, with mailers and a flurry of TV ads.

GOP House Majority Leader Chet Pollert called it “pretty obvious” the PAC’s primary purpose is to get rid of Delzer.

“This is a conflict between two very strong-willed folks,” Pollert said of Burgum and Delzer. “The governor has overstepped his boundaries by funding a campaign against (an incumbent) House member. The primary should be decided by voters and not influenced by another branch of government.”

Dina Butcher, a Republican who was one of the main sponsors of a successful citizen-led ethics reform measure in 2018 that Republicans fought, called Burgum's involvement in the primary race “horrendous for North Dakota and ill-conceived.”

It’s not the first time Burgum has been criticized for pulling out his wallet in a perceived attempt to curry favor with lawmakers. In 2016 and just ahead of the Republican nominating convention, Burgum sent checks to several legislators, and many of them returned the money.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who got the party nod but lost to Burgum in the general election, called the move “tacky.”

Burgum’s PAC contributions probably aren’t illegal but they are highly unusual, said David Schultz, a professor of political science and legal studies at Hamline University, and Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia University Law School who specializes in state and local government law.

It’s relatively common for “executive branch people” to raise money to lobby for legislation “but not to oust members of the Legislature, particularly in their own party,” Briffault said.

“I can’t think of anything like this in modern times,” Schultz said. “It doesn’t respect the separation of power and checks and balances.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Powell warns of a possible sustained recession from pandemic
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned of the threat of a prolonged recession resulting from the viral outbreak and urged Congress and the White House to act further to prevent long-lasting economic damage
3:39PM ( 11 minutes ago )
North Dakota governor funds PAC targeting fellow Republican
Republican North Dakota Gov. Burgum is putting $195,000 of his own money into a political action campaign that has set its sights on defeating one of the most powerful members of the Legislature and a member of his own party
3:38PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Hikers fight plan for border wall at start of scenic trail
Hikers of the 800-mile Arizona Trail are opposing the proposed construction of a border wall they say will destroy the beginning marker of the nationally protected route
3:25PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Paul Manafort released from prison due to virus concerns
Paul Manafort has been jailed since June 2018 following his conviction as part of the special counsel’s Russia investigation
2:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
Unforgivable? Restaurants fear loans won't bring relief
Restaurant owners across the country are worried that the government's coronavirus relief loans won't live up to their promise of forgiveness
2:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
Justices fear 'chaos' if states can't bind electors' votes
Supreme Court justices invoked fears of bribery and chaos to suggest they think states can require presidential electors to back their states’ popular vote winner in the Electoral College
1:30PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Greece to open some beaches ahead of heat wave
Greece will allow the reopening of some beaches Saturday when a heat wave is expected to hit the country
12:01PM ( 3 hours ago )
Merkel: evidence of Russian role in German parliament hack
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday there's “hard evidence” of Russian involvement in a cyberattack on the German parliament in 2015 that reportedly also involved the theft of documents from her own parliamentary office
11:42AM ( 4 hours ago )
Flynn case boosts Trump's bid to undo Russia probe narrative
The Justice Department's dismissal of the Michael Flynn case has been swept up in a broader push by President Donald Trump and Republican allies to reframe the Russia investigation as a plot to sabotage his administration
11:22AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
AP Courtside: Kavanaugh cites 'chaos' in electors case
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh says he would apply the “avoid chaos principle of judging.”
11:59AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Courtside: Fear of bribery invoked in telephone arguments
The Supreme Court justices have invoked fears of bribery and chaos to suggest they think states can require presidential electors to back their states’ popular vote winner in the Electoral College
11:26AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Courtside: Professor, solicitor general in phone argument
The attorneys speaking before the Supreme Court on its last scheduled day of phone arguments include a professor and a state solicitor general
11:04AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Elections
Biden plans to stay home, testing limits of virtual campaign
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has no foreseeable plans to resume in-person campaigning amid a pandemic that is testing whether a national election can be won by a candidate communicating almost entirely from home
9:50PM ( 18 hours ago )
Trump casts doubt on mail voting. His campaign promotes it.
President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is helping Republican voters cast their ballots through the mail even as the president calls the process unreliable
12:15AM ( 1 day ago )
Biden campaign reports raising $60 million with DNC in April
Joe Biden's presidential campaign says it jointly raised $60 million in April along with the Democratic National Committee
6:41PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Powell warns of a possible sustained recession from pandemic
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned of the threat of a prolonged recession resulting from the viral outbreak and urged Congress and the White House to act further to prevent long-lasting economic damage
3:39PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Hikers fight plan for border wall at start of scenic trail
Hikers of the 800-mile Arizona Trail are opposing the proposed construction of a border wall they say will destroy the beginning marker of the nationally protected route
3:25PM ( 25 minutes ago )
US report predicts broad risk of COVID-19 at wildfire camps
A federal document says outbreaks of the coronavirus could sweep through large camps where crews typically stay as they fight wildfires across the U.S. A U.S. Forest Service draft risk assessment obtained by The Associated Press predicts that even in a best-case scenario, nearly two dozen firefighters could be infected at a camp with hundreds of people
3:25PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Pandemic wrecks many state budgets, could trigger deep cuts
As the nation enters a third month of economic devastation, the coronavirus is proving ruinous to state budgets
3:23PM ( 28 minutes ago )
As new clusters emerge, WHO warns virus may be here to stay
New coronavirus clusters have appeared as nations struggle to balance reopening economies with preventing a second wave of infections and deaths
3:19PM ( 31 minutes ago )