The Fargo Forum Attacks Contributions From Citizens With The Wrong Sort Of Job
There are a lot of interesting things in the campaign disclosures of North Dakota candidates. Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Taylor, for instance, has nearly 23% of his campaign financing from labor unions, political action committees and the campaigns of Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad. Democrat House candidate Pam Gulleson has received roughly 1/3rd of her campaign financing from political action committees. For Democrat Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp, the top “industries” that have contributed to her are leadership PAC’s and trial lawyers. Heitkamp’s #1 group of contributors? Lawyers from Jack McConnell’s old law firm Motley Rice.
McConnell, of course, was the attorney Heitkamp appointed to the very lucrative position of representing North Dakota in the national tobacco class action lawsuits, something for which McConnell still earns millions of dollars per year. Since that appointment, both McConnell and the Motley Rice law firm have showered money down on Heitkamp’s campaigns, both in 2000 and this cycle.
But the folks at the Fargo Forum don’t care about contributions from trial lawyers or unions, or even contributions indicating an obvious and ethically questionable quid pro quo relationship between one candidate and a former trial lawyer now sitting on the federal bench. The Forum wasn’t troubled at all when, in election cycle after election cycle, the state’s all-Democrat federal delegation got more than 90% of their contributions from out of state.
What the Fargo Forum cares about is contributions from oil. Because they hate oil. Which is the subject of the paper’s editorial today, following up “reporter” Kristen Daum’s story attacking oil contributions yesterday.
Keep in mind that this is the same newspaper that once wrote an editorial citing negative “facts” from a totally unsubstantiated email forward, which they assured us were “verified.” Problem was that the “facts” weren’t facts at all, something both the Minot Daily News and Prairie Public called the Forum out on. That the paper is relentlessly negative in their coverage of oil issues is not an opinion. This is something even Democrats in the state acknowledge, though not publicly given that the anti-oil bias benefits them generally in coverage.
But why are oil contributions industry so bad?
Alongside Daum’s report the Forum also included a poll, asking “Is it a conflict of interest for North Dakota politicians to take contributions from oil and gas companies?” But that’s a false question. Corporations can’t give to political candidates. It’s illegal. The contributions in question come from employees of the oil industry.
So if you’re a rig worker and you gave a few hundred bucks to Kevin Cramer or Jack Dalrymple your contributions are bad according to the folks at the Forum because you have the wrong sort of job in the wrong sort of industry. But should we really be surprised that most of the people now finding employment and prosperity in the state’s burgeoning oil industry don’t really want to support candidates from a political party that, if given free rein, would shut it all down? Or at least seriously hamper it?
That this is a standard the Forum would never apply to teachers or government workers or social workers or farmers doesn’t matter. Oil workers and executives are bad. All those other people are good. At least in the eyes of the Forum.
Which makes me think maybe we should just stop paying attention to the Forum. The paper’s liberal bias is one thing, but to attack contributions from citizens because they have the wrong sort of job is above and beyond mere bias. It’s journalistic malpractice.
You have to wonder what’s really so threatening to the folks at the Forum. Is it an ideological bias? An environmentalist bias? Or are they just afraid that the state’s political power base is going to shift from the east, where they are, to the west?Tags: bakken, fargo forum, media bias, North Dakota News, oil industry