State Senator Tony Grindberg And NDSU Guilty Of A Felony?
I don’t raise this question lightly, but in reading the law it appears to me as though state Senator Tony Grindberg and North Dakota State University (specifically President Dean Bresciani) may be guilty of breaking the law.
Previously I broke the story of Senator Grindberg double-dipping on his salary as director of NDSU’s Research & Technolgy Park, one of the “centers of excellence” created at the state’s various universities. Grindberg’s employment contract (embedded below) requires that his salary be reduced by the amount he’s paid for his service in the legislator. This is no doubt to comply with the requirement in the RTP’s articles of incorporation (also embedded below) which holds that the organization not attempt to “influence legislation.”
There’s enough of a conflict of interest in the RTP hiring a legislator as their director, but allowing him to double-dip on his salary while at the legislature would be a bridge too far. Yet, that’s exactly what he’s been allowed to do to the tune of nearly $40,000 that I can prove with documentation, and probably more as I expect the practice is on-going.
NDSU’s Office of Ethics has investigated the matter but concluded that they could not rule on it because the RTP is a “separate entity” from NDSU (their report also embedded below) which is a ludicrous conclusion. The original incorporator for the RTP was NDSU’s general counsel. The RTP’s articles require that the President of NDSU serve as chairman of its board of directors, along with two other university officials. According to the timeline of the RTP posted on its website, the property it currently resides on was “included in the NDSU Facility Master Plan approved by the State Board of Higher Education.”
In 1999, former NDSU President Chapman outlined “plans for the park in his State of the University Address.”
The “proposed strategic plan” for the RTP was approved by the State Board of Higher Education in 1999, and the SBHE also granted permission for the formation of a “private, non-profit corporation” which is what currently employs Mr. Grindberg.
To say that the RTP is a separate entity is absurd. And Grindberg’s double-dipping may actually be a crime.
Section 12.1-23-07 of the North Dakota Century Code deals with the “Misapplication of entrusted property.” It reads:
A person is guilty of misapplication of entrusted property if the person disposes of, uses, or transfers any interest in property that has been entrusted to the person as a fiduciary, or in the person’s capacity as a public servant or an officer, director, agent, employee of, or a person controlling a financial institution, in a manner that the person knows is not authorized and that the person knows to involve a risk of loss or detriment to the owner of the property or to the government or other person for whose benefit the property was entrusted.
The RTP is a creation of NDSU. One of President Bresciani’s jobs as the head of NDSU is to be the chairman of the board for the RTP. Bresciani knows that Grindberg has been double-dipping on his legislator pay. He knows that it’s against Grindberg’s contract. He knows that the RTP’s articles of incorporation prohibit the influencing of legislation.
Thus, it would seem he’s guilty of breaking this law, which given the dollar amount would be a class b felony.
I’m exploring what it would take to file a criminal complaint in this matter.