State Senator Tony Grindberg Appears To Have Double-Dipped Nearly $40,000 From The Taxpayers
Tony Grindberg is a Republican state Senator from the Fargo area who has also been rumored to be eyeing higher office. A run for the US House has been rumored, as well as a possible run for Governor. Grindberg is well known as one of the most outspoken advocates for expansionist higher education policy in the state, being a consistent vote for bigger institutions and more spending.
A lot of citizens may not know that Grindberg, when he’s not legislating, is also an employee of the university system working at one of the “centers of excellence” institutions created during the administration of former Governor John Hoeven. Grindberg is the director of the NDSU Research & Technology Park, Inc. which is overseen by the President of NDSU (formerly Joe Chapman and currently Dean Bresciani) and funded by state and federal taxpayer dollars.
Now, I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the idea of Grindberg both working for a “centers of excellence” institution, and NDSU generally, and also being a legislator voting for bigger budgets for both. But that’s a tough standard to apply to a citizen legislature. After all, just about every legislator probably has a conflict or two, and it’s not like Grindberg can just pass a budget by himself.
That being said, there are some facts about Grindberg’s compensation that should raise some eyebrows.
Below you will find embedded a PDF of Mr. Grindberg’s employment contract signed by himself and former NDSU President Joe Chapman, records of his legislative pay and records of his salary as the director of this “center of excellence.”
In the contract, under Section 4, it states that, “The Employee’s [Grindberg's] regular monthly salary during actual Legislature service shall be reduced by his Legislative compensation (excluding the $250/month payment for public duty)….”
In 2006 Mr. Grindberg was paid $120,143 in salary from the NDSU Technology Research Park (TRP). He was also paid $5,982.50 for his work as a legislator. There was no reduction in his salary.
In 2007 Mr. Grindberg was paid $115,293 in salary. He was on unpaid leave for nearly four months, from January 3rd to April 25th, for the legislative session. His pay for this service in the legislature was $20,262.50, but only $10,125 was deducted from his salary. Per his contract, it should have been reduced teh full amount.
In 2008 Mr. Grindberg was paid $133,748 in salary. He was also paid $7,542 for legislative work. His salary was not reduced at all.
In 2009 Mr. Grindberg was paid $123,466 in salary. He was, again, on unpaid lead or the legislative session from January 6th to May 4th while serving in the legislature and earned $25,090 for his service. Yet only $9,855 was deducted from his salary.
In total, it appears Mr. Grindberg was overpaid $38,896.50 from 2006 – 2009 and, as far as I know (though I don’t have the information yet) this pattern continued into 2010 and may even still be happening now in 2011.
There are several problems here, not the least of which is the obviously double-dipping on the taxpayer’s dime. But in addition to that, there is the question of legislative ethics.
This matter was brought to my attention by a reader who has filed complaints about the matter with NDSU President Dean Bresciani (you’ll find en email from him in the embed below dismissing the matter) as well as the State Board of Higher Education. They’re aware that this is going on, has been going on for years, and they’ve done nothing to stop it.
When you remember that Senator Grindberg is an ardent supporter of higher ed expansion and spending, this blatant look-the-other-way on his salary over payments takes on the smell of a sort of back channeled gift to a lawmaker. And remember that contributions to legislators, as well as money spent on lobbying legislators, are both highly regulated.
I think Senator Grindberg and the university system owe the taxpayers an explanation not just for the over payments (which themselves ought to be repaid) but also for the appearance of ethical impropriety.dean brescani, North Dakota News, north dakota state university, tony grindberg