Democrat Crabtree’s Criminal Complaint Flops

PSC Candidate Brad Crabtree

If there was a theme to the campaign style of Democrats in North Dakota this last election cycle it was efforts to try and silence speech critical of them, and supportive of Republicans, by claiming the speech in question was illegal. They accused Republicans of taking bribes in the form of 100% legal, 100% transparent political contributions (no kidding) and, in the case of Democrat PSC candidate Brad Crabtree (who took an almost 14-point shellacking at the polls) also accused a third-party group of illegal campaigning.

Unfortunately for Crabtree, in addition to having lost his race, his criminal allegations against Brighter Future Committee (started by former Republican House candidate Shane Goettle) just got tossed by Burleigh County prosecutors who won’t be going forward with charges.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Burleigh County prosecutors will not file charges over radio ads that criticized Democratic Public Service Commission candidate Brad Crabtree.

A nonprofit corporation called the “Brighter Future Committee” bought the ads. Crabtree filed a complaint last month, saying that violated state laws that bar corporations from spending money for political purposes.

Let’s be clear that these charges from Crabtree weren’t anything more than an election season stunt. Much like the lawsuit filed against Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, and Representative-elect Kevin Cramer, alleging bribery because both men took political contributions from members of industries they regulate, these charges were timed so that they would loom over the Republicans during the election season and not be resolved until well afterward.

These allegations Democrats have been pushing – whether they’re targeted at independent conservative groups or public figures like Kalk, Cramer and even Governor Jack Dalrymple – aren’t about ethics. They’re about politics. They’re about calculating candidates representing a marginalized party that is desperate to be relevant in North Dakota politics again.

The Democrats want to make gains by silencing certainly political constituencies that are supportive of Republicans. That has no place in a free and open democratic process.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Guest

    Only a Republican would attack bribery charges as an attempt to suppress speech. If you’re so convinced political donations could never have an effect on the donee’s legislative policy, why are you throwing such a fit about Heitkamp’s donors?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      You’ll notice that there’s s difference between thinking contributions are unseemly and thinking they’re illegal.

      The contributions to Republicans from the oil industry were all legal and disclosed. And if Dems were getting any of that money they wouldn’t have a problem.

      Regardless, if North Dakotans think certain politicians are too “in the tank” they can vote accordingly.

      • Guest

        You’ll notice that unseemliness and illegality are not mutually exclusive and that the crux of the problem is the same: the money will influence the donee.

        You’ll notice also that the difference in your opinion seems to fall on which party the money is going to. You have no evidence that they were all legal and disclosed. Just because there wasn’t a criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily mean nothing happened. Obama’s never been formally charged with any crimes, but it hasn’t stopped you or your readers from their firm belief that he’s committed crimes possibly deserving impeachment.

        I also love seeing the down-vote on my post everytime you respond. I really enjoy the fact that my posts are annoying you. Please continue with your positive reinforcement.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          You’ll notice that the difference in your opinion seems to fall on which party the money is going to.

          No, I’m pretty sure that’s just something you’ve invented. You seem to enjoy attacking strawmen.

          I made two major complaints about Heitkamp’s contributions. 1) I noted contributions from the Council for a Livable World. I objected to these not because I thought they were illegal, CLW has every right to exercise their speech through contributions, but rather because I thought that a group like CLW would support Heitkamp didn’t speak highly for the policies she’d vote for.

          2) Contributions from the Motley-Rice law firm, which was the firm of Jack McConnell whom Heitkamp appointed as ND’s legal counsel in the tobacco class action lawsuits. That appointment (among those of other states) made McConnell a lot of money (he still makes millions of dollars per year from the settlement) and he poured money into Heitkamp’s 2000 gubernatorial campaign, and his former law firm poured money into her Senate campaign.

          I guess Heitkamp’s apparent pay-for-appointment relationship with McConnell bothered me. It bothered a lot of people, which is why it made headlines.

          That’s not quite in the same league as the oil industry supporting politicians that are, in turn, pro-oil in the policies they support.

          That’s my rationale. Attack it if you will.

          I also love seeing the down-vote on my post everytime you respond. I really enjoy the fact that my posts are annoying you. Please continue with your positive reinforcement.

          Ha. This made my day. SAB’s comment database is home to just over 1.8 million comments from the going on 10 year history of the blog. At least half those comments are people arguing or insulting me directly.

          I’ve been doing this a long time. You’re a light weight.

          • Guest

            Well, I certainly can’t claim to weigh anything near what you do; you got me there.

            Again, you contradict yourself by implying that there is some sort of quid pro quo when it comes to Heitkamp’s donors but the same couldn’t possibly be true of Republicans taking money from businesses who have a direct interest in pending matters before the office the candidates are running for, other than baseless conjecture of course.

            And just a friendly reminder, you forget to down-vote my last post.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Well, I certainly can’t claim to weigh anything near what you do; you got me there.

            You know, a couple of threads ago, you were complaining about people name-calling. Now here you are making fat jokes.

            That’s just kind of sad, kid.

            Again, you contradict yourself by implying that there is some sort of quid pro quo when it comes to Heitkamp’s donors but the same couldn’t possibly be true of Republicans taking money from businesses who have a direct interest in pending matters before the office the candidates are running for, other than baseless conjecture of course.

            Well, the situations are very different. In one instance we have Heitkamp taking contributions directly from someone, and their law firm, to whom she gave a very lucrative appointment. Both the law firm and the individual are from out of state, and wouldn’t normally have an interest in ND politics.

            I’m saying that stinks a lot more than the oil industry supporting a governor with a lengthy pro-oil track record.

            But, I should note, I don’t think either situation is specifically illegal

            See how I got there? Probably not. Because if a conservative says it, it’s wrong.

            And just a friendly reminder, you forget to down-vote my last post.

            It may surprise you, but thousands of people read these posts. I usually don’t vote on the comments.

          • Guest

            If you’ll recall, my official policy on name calling was it’s allowed if sufficiently biting and accompanied with substantive argument, a nuance many of the posts on the blog fail to adhere to. My explanation on that hasn’t changed, unlike you’re rationale for criticizing Heitkamp on Hoeven’s letter.

            So if I understand your argument, in Heitkamp’s case, you believe that because one person possibly stood to benefit from donations it’s unseemly since they’re out of state, but the same consideration doesn’t apply to donations to Republicans receiving money from business who had no connection to the state besides having matters pending before the office the candidate sat on or was running for.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Yes, I think there’s a difference between an industry supporting a candidate who is friendly to that entire industry in terms of policy, and a lawyer basically buying himself a very lucrative appointment with campaign contributions.

            But that’s just me, and I tend to be very objective and principled about this sort of thing.

          • Guest

            Quite. Getting getting some appointment more than a decade before a political donation? Outrageous! Getting a favorable decision from a regulatory board after a political donation to them? Perfectly fine and reasonable.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            You should read more carefully. The appointment came while Heitkamp was AG, and McConnell’s contributions (as well as those of his law firm) landed in Heitkamp’s 2000 campaign coffers (as well as those of the state party for which McConnell was the #3 contributor that cycle).

            The law firm, though not McConnell as he has since been appointed to the federal bench, was also a contributor to Heitkamp’s 2012 campaign.

          • Guest

            The appointment still occurred a decade before the current election. McConnell was apparently not so undeserving of the appointment when Stenehjem reappointed him after Heitkamp left office. Moreover, according to the Forum, “In 2011, Heitkamp provided documentationthat shows McConnell served in the North Dakota Attorney General’s office without compensation.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Well of course. Class action lawyers almost never bill their clients by the hour. They get a chunk of the settlement.

            McConnell was compensated from the settlement, not from ND directly. That doesn’t change the reality of the appointment.

            And sorry, but things Heitkamp did as AG are part of her record and pertinent to the campaign even if they happened more than a decade ago.

          • Guest

            If there was some buy in, then why did Stenehjem reappointed him? All you have to go by here is Heitkamp received something from a donor after a favorable decision, and the same is absolutely true of the businesses here receiving favorable decisions from the candidates they support and assume he basically bought his seat which is totally unfounded. If the fact that pro-oil candidates favor pro-oil candidates excuses any impropriety, so does the fact trial lawyers generally donate to Democrats, a not very uncommon phenomenon either. McConnell gave to numerous other Democratic candidates as well, after all. http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/toprecips.php?id=D000022121&cycle=A

            But I suppose you’ll still struggle in some frutiless effort to differentiate the two, like you did in the Kramer/Heitkamp issue.

          • Thresherman

            Let us not forget that this is old hat in the Democratic playbook of smears. Recall that back in the 80’s they went after George H W Bush with the phony baloney October Surprise, were he was supposed have brokered a deal for the release of the hostages in Iran just prior to the 1980 election. There was no evidence to support the clain and later it was shown to totally fabricated, yet the Democrats went forward with an investigation based upon the claim that it wasn’t the total lack of evidence but “the seriousness of the charges” that mattered. In fact, they claimed that the complete lack of evidence justified an investigation to see if there was any evidence.
            Now Crabtree has falsely muddied the good names of both Kalk and Cramer and yet he cannot be sued for slander because his statements were political in nature and considered free speech. I however think that a good public horsewhipping should be in order and we all then would be spared future repetitions of this kind of amoral behavior. Who knows, if this should catch on and given the Democrats inclination to these kind of dirty tricks, we might even have a economic boom in the horse and buggy whip industry.

          • Guest

            What about the birthers? Do you wish to punish them as well?

          • Thresherman

            NIce try, but no cigar. Being a natural born citizen is a requirement for the office of President and Obama could have laid the whole issue to rest by producing his birth certificate. Instead his nibs decided to set the tone for his entire adminstartion by deciding that adhering to the law was for less august personages than himself. So in that case he carries a large portion of the blame for that himself.

          • Guest

            Nice try, those arguments were patently meritless and they had no reason to argue otherwise. He did produce a short form birth certificate at the start but whatever gave was always accused of being a fake or forgery and their arguments continued through the current election without any shred of evidence to support otherwise.

          • $8194357

            And “still” no transparency on the One’s personal info..

  • Harold

    Good try though Brad. Maybe next time around you can get those charges and accusations to stick.

    • camsaure

      Maybe he should be required to pay expenses though, instead of us taxpayers paying for his frivolus lawsuits.

  • OobieDoobie

    Please, please, please! Let this be the last gasp from this goofball. Back to the mud hut, Crabapple. No more wasting of our time with your tilting at windmills.

    • Roy_Bean

      Please stick to the facts here, he lives in a straw hut not a mud nut.

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