Democrat PSC Candidate Brad Crabtree Is Being Hypocritical About Campaign Contributions

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Two far-left environmentalist groups, in an attack that was no doubt carefully coordinated for an election year, have sued Public Service Commissioners Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer for accepting perfectly legal, 100% disclosed contributions from coal interests.

These same coal interests also have a mining permit that the PSC will eventually be ruling on, and according to the Dakota Resource Council and the Sierra Club, because Kalk and Cramer took the aforementioned legal political contributions they are somehow unfit to to regulate the project. Which is patently ridiculous. The PSC applies state and federal laws to the regulatory process. Absent some evidence that Kalk and Cramer didn’t follow the law during any part of the regulatory process, these groups don’t have a leg to stand on.

But remember, this isn’t so much about the law as it’s about making political hay. Which is just what Brad Crabtree, the Democrat-endorsed candidate for the PSC this election cycle, is doing:

Bismarck, ND – A Public Service candidate says getting campaign contributions from companies or owners regulated by the state agency is unacceptable.

Democrat Brad Crabtree says he will reject campaign donations from political action committees of companies and cooperatives regulated by the PSC.

He says he also won’t accept contributions from officers or executives of regulated companies. …

Crabtree says, “As regulators, PSC Commissioners must be held at a higher standard than other elected officials. The reason for this is clear, in a regulatory proceeding, even the perception of a conflict of interest matters. This legal form of corruption must end.”

If Mr. Crabtree thinks it’s wrong to take money from groups that the PSC would regulate, it’s a belief he apparently just found this election cycle. You see, Mr. Crabtree has run for the PSC before (Cramer gave him a shellacking, getting over 61% of the vote) and during that campaign he took thousands of dollars from at least one energy company that would have been under his regulatory purview had he won that election.

The donations came from Great River Energy (a power company that manages coal plants among other things) in two payments, one for $1,500 and one for $1,000 according to disclosures on the Secretary of State website.

That’s not a lot of money from energy interests (though Crabtree could certainly have gotten more filtered through the thousands he got from the state party and various PAC’s), but it does make him a bit of a hypocrite.

Clearly, he thought it was ok to take money from groups he would regulate, until his friends at the DRC and the Sierra Club filed this lawsuit.

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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  • Demosthenes

    I still don’t know why these guys care about contributions. Form 501 C4 Take all donation through “Shell” who do NOT have to disclose donors and then funnel all that secret money into your Super PAC Who doesn’t have to disclose donations or donors. Done and Done. All perfectly legal.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Right.  You start batting this issue around like a political football, and pretty soon all the donations go behind a smoke screen.

      Better to have them out in the open.  If the PSC guys take a bunch of coal money, and start ruling in favor of coal all the time when they shouldn’t be, the voters can settle that at the ballot box.

      • bobby

        Thank god for super pacs. Rob, is it hypocritical for a municipal judge who, while running for reelection, basically ran a campaign designed to abolish property tax (related to town ordinances in casselton) in contravention of judicial rules to sue other political officials over public discourse?

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Huh?

          For the record, what Im against is the use of taxpayer funds for political putposes, which is exactly what groups like the Chamber are doing.

  • guest

    It is not hypocritical unless he says one thing and does another.  In this case, Crabtree has acknowledged that this is a change in his position and that he will not receive contributions like that he got in the past.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Where is he acknowledging that he took these contributions in the past? Because that’s news to me.

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