This guest column is by Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, a plastic surgeon who represents Bismarck's District 7 in the North Dakota House of Representatives.
BISMARCK — An opinion writer for Forum Communications gets it wrong again, in a huge way. Rob Port's recent piece entitled “Bastiat lawmaker pushes sweeping resolution aimed at stripping Gov. Doug Burgum’s emergency powers” has gone so far off the rails that a published correction is required.
Much of his piece is about the legislative resolution I have been alleged to be “touting” to my Republican colleagues. Based on this alleged touting of the resolution, he directly or indirectly labels me as “atrociously misguided,” politically impotent, irrational, uninspiring, vengeful and hypocritical. But here’s the catch: I didn’t write it or promote it.
Until his unfortunate opinion piece was published, I hadn’t even read it. He states that he “attempted to contact Becker multiple times via telephone and text message,” but just as with his opinion pieces, his statement is largely fabricated and wildly spun. He sent me a single text at 9:54 a.m., when I was in surgery, and no phone calls. Nevertheless, it’s still an improvement from his last several hit pieces, when he hadn’t made a single attempt to contact me for factual information (sometimes facts don’t make good clickbait).
His redundant pieces usually take aim at me and at the Bastiat Caucus (shrewdly similar to some powerful people in Bismarck). If you have been reading Port’s stuff, you are aware that I started the Bastiat Caucus in 2013. You would also be likely to believe that we are extreme radical libertarians bent on destroying the Republican Party, and that a few legislators in the Bastiat Caucus have been alleged to say or do controversial things, and these “stories” represent the views of all legislators involved with the Bastiat Caucus.
Would it surprise you to know that the entire mission of the Bastiat Caucus is to further the actual points in the North Dakotan Republican Party platform; nothing less, and nothing more? This includes personal freedom, personal responsibility, low taxes, less government regulation, and less government spending.
Would it also surprise you to know that there were 30 dues-paying legislators in the Bastiat Caucus this biennium? I formed the caucus, because I believed the state was spending too much and not adhering closely enough to Republican Party principles. Although many people, like Port, take issue with that and demean us, we continue to do what we can for the citizens of North Dakota.
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Another point to clarify Port’s odd obsession with misinforming his readers about me include this quote, “As retribution, Becker attempted to organize a write-in campaign for fringe gubernatorial candidate Michael Coachman.” This is another lie. I did not organize anything for Coachman. In fact I spoke against him being able to run in the general as a Republican due to legal concerns.
After he decided to run a write-in campaign, however, people asked me about him. I encouraged them to consider voting for Coachman if they were dissatisfied with Burgum. I also said he had zero chance of winning, but at least they would feel good about their choice. Although Port says the effort was a “belly-flop," I disagree. Coachman received about 5% of the vote. While that may sound small, his write-in campaign with so little name-recognition and almost no money should have received about 90% less than it actually did. Good for Coachman, I say! Far from a belly-flop.
Back to the resolution: I did have one drafted by Legislative Council. I presented it to Republican leadership two weeks ago, and to the House Republican Caucus last week. It is one page, and has my name on it. It simply ends the governor’s State of Emergency. It doesn’t affect federal funding, nor does it affect the ability of cities and counties to enact restrictive ordinances if they choose. And it doesn’t create a council, or have any of the other clauses Port takes issue with. We’ve been in a State of Emergency for eight months, and it is likely to go on for much longer. It’s time to end it. Although that would have been a less interesting story, at least it would have been accurate. As crazy as it seems, I believe even opinion pieces should be honest.
One last item: Referring again to the misattributed resolution, Port stated, “he hasn't shared a copy of it with many lest a certain 'blogger in Minot get his hands on it'." What I actually said was, “I’ve only shared the resolution with leadership, because I didn’t want a blogger from the Forum to get it, and turn it into a story about personalities.”
Isn’t it ironic that he did exactly that ... and still got it wrong?