Letter to the editor: Forum ignored own positions by endorsing ChristmannIn endorsing Randy Christmann for public service commissioner, Forum Communications disregarded its own editorial positions and misled roughly 150,000 readers statewide by knowingly withholding important factual information.
By: Brad Crabtree, Ashley, N.D., The Jamestown Sun
In endorsing Randy Christmann for public service commissioner, Forum Communications disregarded its own editorial positions and misled roughly 150,000 readers statewide by knowingly withholding important factual information.
The Forum has consistently and correctly editorialized against the unethical practice of PSC commissioners accepting campaign contribution from companies and executives they regulate.
However, despite learning of Christmann’s financial disclosure report before its endorsement, Forum Communications did not reveal that my opponent accepted $55,000 in contributions from companies and executives he would regulate on the PSC.
My opponent has received as much money from regulated interests in just four months as incumbent Commissioners Kevin Cramer and Brian Kalk accepted over four years combined.
It’s not yet Election Day, and Christmann has already embroiled himself in conflicts of interest that have landed Cramer and Kalk in federal court at North Dakota taxpayer expense. If elected, my opponent will begin his term legally vulnerable to challenges under federal and state law.
In endorsing Christmann, Forum Communications’ editorial board members acknowledge that Cramer and Kalk may have broken North Dakota’s bribery law by accepting contributions from regulated interests. Yet, they dodge the issue with Christmann, claiming my campaign should have addressed my opponent’s actions, rather than sitting PSC commissioners.
The Forum pointedly ignores the fact that I pledged not to accept contributions from interests with business before the PSC, voluntarily disclosed those contributions monthly, and repeatedly invited Christmann to join me in my pledge — he refused.
The Forum also fails to acknowledge that my opponent used lax state election laws to delay release of his contributions until one week before the election — after tens of thousands of North Dakotans have voted.
Forum Communications’ claim that I should have focused on my opponent, rather than on actions of incumbent PSC commissioners, is dishonest. Forum editors know that Christmann refused three media invitations to debate (which I accepted). They also overlook the fact that my opponent never held a substantive press conference, nor offered specific recommendations for tackling energy and agricultural issues before the PSC.
How can the Forum expect me to campaign against an invisible opponent who does not take the job of PSC commissioner seriously or respect North Dakota voters enough to debate and openly engage the public?
In contrast to Christmann’s personal attacks, I have offered constructive proposals for responsible energy development, saving consumers money on utility bills, protecting farmers from grain elevator bankruptcies, sustaining our lignite industry with clean coal technologies, and ending financial conflicts of interest on the PSC.
Newspapers have a right to support the candidate of their choice. However, Forum Communications failed its obligation to readers by withholding critical information and not presenting a full and honest context for their decision.
(Crabtree, a Democrat, is seeking a seat on the PSC)