Crabtree rips ad painting him as environmental radicalPublic Service Commission candidate Brad Crabtree blasted on Friday a new radio advertisement attacking his campaign contributions and accused his opponent Randy Christmann of ducking the issues in favor of unfounded name calling.
By: By Marino Eccher , Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Public Service Commission candidate Brad Crabtree blasted on Friday a new radio advertisement attacking his campaign contributions and accused his opponent Randy Christmann of ducking the issues in favor of unfounded name calling.
Christmann said Crabtree was trying to detract from what Christmann termed “a radical environmental agenda,” a claim he’s often leveled in the campaign.
Speaking at a news conference, Crabtree said the ad, paid for by a Republican political action committee, falsely accuses him of freezing out campaign contributions from energy industry employees while taking big money from environmental groups.
“I have not received one cent from environmental groups, or from political action committees associated with environmental interests,” said Crabtree, a Democrat.
Crabtree said he also hasn’t taken money from paid executives in environmental groups. He said the group behind the ad, Bismarck-based Brighter Future Committee, tried to pass off donors from previous campaigns and contributors — such as “one mid-level employee of an environmental group who works on international fishing” — as environmentalist heavyweights.
The Democrat, who has pledged not to accept contributions from companies or executives of companies regulated directly by the PSC, also said the prohibition doesn’t extend to all employees of those companies — some of whom have given him money.
“I respect their right to contribute to me or my opponent as citizens,” he said.
The treasurer of the PAC, former North Dakota commerce commissioner and Republican US House candidate Shane Goettle, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. In an email provided by Crabtree, the PAC’s lawyer said the group “stands by all statements made in the advertisement.”
The issue of campaign contributions has been a major point of contention in the campaign. The current commissioners, who are not up for reelection, have taken tens of thousands of dollars from PACs and executives of companies the PSC regulates directly — a practice Crabtree has likened to bribery.
Crabtree has challenged Christmann, who has taken money from interests Crabtree considers off-limits, to do the same. Christmann has not done so.
On Friday, Christmann claimed Crabtree’s focus on campaign finance is a smokescreen for Crabtree’s environmental views, citing Crabtree’s support for cap-and-trade carbon policy, energy efficiency mandates and public financing for renewable energy projects.
Christmann cited Crabtree’s time living in a straw-bale house near Kulm, N.D. a decade ago, disconnected from the electrical grid, as cause for alarm.
“Brad Crabtree is going to tell us all how to live,” Christmann said.
Crabtree said his track record of working with people from across the political and business spectrum on energy issues is at odds with Christmann’s characterization.
He also said the attack ad financed by an outside PAC is a rarity for a PSC race, or any statewide race, and is a sign the race is close.