Kent Conrad “Certainly Doesn’t Believe” Pay For Play Scandal Involving North Dakota Dems
Yesterday I broke the news about an alleged “pay for play” scandal involving former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp and Obama judicial nominee John McConnell. Revealed during McConnell’s confirmation process were massive political contributions he made to the North Dakota Democrat party and Heitkamp’s 2000 campaign for governor even as he raked in millions from his appointment as the North Dakota’s counsel in the tobacco class action lawsuits.
The scandal was brought up during floor debate in the Senate today over McConnell’s appointment, though ultimately cloture was invoked all but ensuring that McConnell will be appointed by the Democrat-dominated Senate. Senator Kent Conrad voted to advance McConnell’s appointment. Senator John Hoeven voted against it.
Forum reporter Kristen Daum asked Senator Conrad about his vote, and he claimed to be unaware of the scandal:
“Before today, I had never heard of the allegations against Mr. McConnell. And now that I’ve heard them, I certainly do not believe them,” Conrad told The Forum. “The fact is that Mr. McConnell is completely qualified to be the U.S. District Judge for the District of Rhode Island. He received strong bipartisan support when he was nominated and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
“And then earlier today more than 60 Senators voted in favor of taking up the McConnell nomination, including many Republicans,” Conrad added. “Mr. McConnell has the character and ability to perform as a district court judge. That is why he received my support.”
It’s a little hard to believe that Conrad was unaware of McConnell’s massive contributions during the 2000 election cycle. Not only did McConnell give $30,000 to Heitkamp’s campaign but he also gave $73,000 so the state Democrat party. That latter contribution made McConnell the 4th largest contributor to the state party for the election cycle.
Senator Conrad was running for re-election that year. Are we to believe that he wasn’t aware of the Rhode Island lawyer who was the 4th largest contributor to the state party?
That strains credulity.
Meanwhile, PlainsDaily.com attempted to contact Heidi Heitkamp about the story but was unable to get a call back. Shocking.
Update: For what it’s worth, McConnell gave Senator Conrad a $1,000 contribution in 1999 according to OpenSecrets.org.Tags: Heidi Heitkamp, john mcconnell, Kent Conrad, North Dakota News