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D46 GOP Candidates call NDSU nursing program an ‘inside deal’

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Mailers attacking District 46 Democratic-NPL candidates placed Jim Roers, Jim Kasper, and Shannon Roers-Jones squarely against the NDSU Nursing Program.

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The ‘inside deal’ referred to in this dishonest mailer was when the State Board of Higher Education, Chaired by Kirsten Diederich, approved NDSU’s assumption of Sanford’s nurse training program in Bismarck.

Background

In 2012 Medcenter One of Bismarck merged with Sanford Health.  Medcenter had the last remaining hospital based Registered Nurse education program in the state.  In Fargo, St. Lukes once had a similar program, but that was long ago before the transition to Meritcare which also merged with Sanford Health.

Sanford decided to end its financial support for the RN education program for the same reasons St. Lukes in Fargo ended its program years ago.  But since the program had value and there was an obvious shortage of nurses, Sanford looked for an education institution to assume responsibility.  In 2014, after reviewing options, Sanford selected NDSU’s School of Nursing as the most logical option to take over the program.  NDSU had both the educational capacity and the institutional support to make it work.  NDSU’s School of Nursing is also listed among the top 30 in the nation.

Here is where it gets interesting.

Almost immediately, Representative Bob Martinson (R-Bismarck) attacked the deal and the State Board of Higher Education’s approval in March of 2014.  Martinson called it a “bailout of a multi-million dollar health care company“.

One has to ask why Representative Martinson was so exercised about the NDSU announcement.  Could it be because the University of Mary’s School of Health Sciences also had a competing offer, but lost out to NDSU?  Could it be because the University of Mary would have to compete against NDSU for nursing students for their RN program?  Why would Representative Martinson care?

Here’s the thing that not one enterprising news organization ever reported. Representative Martinson’s wife is the Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Mary.

Martinson had a conflict of interest a mile wide that was never discussed or exposed.

Fast Forward to the District 46 Republican Campaign

Jim Roers, Shannon Roers-Jones, and Jim Kasper would like to claim they are big supporters of NDSU.   Yet they are approving of attacking District 46 Democrats for the ‘deal’ that resulted in NDSU’s Registered Nurse training presence in Bismarck.

The entire basis of this preposterous attack was not a news source.  Instead it was an opinion blog based on Martinson’s complaints against NDSU, written by a person often referred to as ‘the underwear blogger’.

And no resident of District 46 would ever know this unless they grabbed a high powered magnifying glass to read references on the mailers.

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The Republican campaign in District 46 has to go down as one of the most dishonest efforts in local political history.

So here is the thing.  Jim Roers claims to be among President Dean Bresciani’s best friends.  Yet he is relying on a dishonest campaign that attacks Bresciani’s decision to rescue a nursing program in Bismarck under the NDSU Banner.

If Jim Roers and Shannon Roers-Jones can do this, they will fit in well with Kasper in the ‘good ol’ boys network in Bismarck.  That’s politics as usual in Bismarck.

But if you want things to turn in a better direction, residents of District 46 MUST re-elect Senator George Sinner and elect Kirsten Diederich and Dan Fisher to the House.

It’s time….

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$40,000 Contribution Exposes Roers Conflicts at NDSU Foundation

Why would a California developer make the largest donation to a ND legislative race in the history of the state?

What’s the connection?

The answer is found within the NDSU Development Foundation where both serve as Trustees and until only a few months ago, were both on the Property Management committee of the Foundation.

The nexus between their activity on the Foundation Board and on the Property Management Committee exposes a troubling conflict of interest within the foundation.

On March 2nd, the Foundation’s Property Management committee met to discuss development of the 1600 Block of University Drive and 12th Street N.   Committee Chair Jeff Volk advised about conflicts of interest for people who would be serving on the Foundation Board and bidding on the project. According to the Forum report, Volk’s comments were directed at Jim Roers and Bob Challey.

“I caution those of you that want to be on the other side of the table at the end (bidder for the project) to figure out where the conflict starts,” said Volk.

Challey and Roers appeared to argue with Volk, not understanding the issue.

“I don’t think the committee should try to exclude the expertise that’s there, certainly in the early part of the process,” Challey said.

Jim Roers appeared to want to continue to serve on the Property  Management side of the project until it came to voting.

Other prospective developers likely heard is that Jim Roers would advise the Committee as they lay out the plans, timelines, and work on the requirements of the project.  They should have also understood that Roers Development would likely have inside information on the project well in advance of other firms – putting Roers in the drivers’ seat.

On March 6th, the Forum opined that both were missing the larger point. ‘some developers appear to have an inside track on foundation/university projects…, by virtue of insider status with the foundation, enjoy what other builders might see as unfair advantage’

Roers eventually resigned from the Property Management Committee, but not the Foundation that the Property Management Committee represents.

This fall, the Property Management Committee narrowed the list of proposals from developers down to three.  Roers Development was one of the three selected.  Robert Challey remains on the Property Management Committee as do numerous other members who served with Jim Roers.

The Forum editorial continued, ‘The university and foundation are being scrutinized as never before..  The foundation, in particular, has found itself in a harsh spotlight in the past couple of years.  If ignored or even minimized, the conflict-of-interest matter could be a headline-making blowup.’

Well, blowup time has arrived.  Given Bob Challey’s willingness to buy a win for Roers in a Senate race, why would anyone believe Challey wouldn’t try to deliver the 1600 project to him as well?

Roers Development already appears to have received favored treatment in several University area projects including: T Loft Apartments; Stop & Go Center; and STEM Building.

Given all of this, how could any other developer believe bidding on a Foundation driven project is anything other than a stacked deck?

Just because Jim Roers resigned from the Property Management Committee doesn’t mean that the conflict was removed.  Roers is still a Trustee and he submitted a development proposal for the 1600 block while still a Trustee.  And unless he resigns his position, Roers will be on the Development Foundation Board when the 1600 block project is awarded.  Roers will be on the board of a non-profit that may award a development contract to himself!

The ONLY WAY for Jim Roers to remove himself from this glaring conflict of interest is to withdraw his development proposal.

If Jim Roers is really concerned about the future of NDSU and possible harm that will come if Roers Development is selected as the contractor, he would withdraw now.  If he thinks people will believe Bob Challey (and other foundation friends) won’t give him favored treatment – he needs to think again.

If Jim Roers doesn’t want to harm President Bresciani as he faces challenges before the SBHE, he should pull his bid and quit attacking the NDSU’s Nursing Program with campaign fliers in the district.

District 46 already has one Legislator in Jim Kasper who can’t see a conflict of interest in a forest full of them.  We don’t need to elect someone else who doesn’t get it to join him in the State Senate.

Jim Roers Misleads and Violates the Law

It seems that Republican Senate Candidate Jim Roers has a terrible time following the law when it comes to political activity.

We’ve just discovered that an televised attack ad unleashed against Senator George Sinner illegally misrepresents the sponsor of the ad.

The ad is laughable in one respect.  It refers to Senator Sinner as a ‘career politician’.  Let’s see, is one term in the ND Senate is a ‘career’?  Really Jim?  Perhaps you were referring to Jim Kasper who has been in the ND House for 15 years!

At the end of the ad, the disclaimer reads, ‘PAID FOR BY DISTRICT 46 REPUBLICANS, MARK THELEN, CHAIR.’

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The only problem is that the disclaimer if ABSOLUTELY FALSE!

A quick check of the Federal Election Commission public inspection files for WDAY, KVLY, and KX4, clearly show that the sponsor paying for the was JIM ROERS FOR SENATE.

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So, what is the penalty for violating the law when it comes to proper campaign disclosures?

For small items, failure to have a disclaimer on a brochure (which D46 Republicans have already done this year), it is unlikely that authorities would do anything.

This, however, is a much bigger issue.  The reason Jim Roers didn’t want to claim his purchase is because some people might not think kindly of him for sponsoring a nasty attack ad.  By diverting attention, he can try to look like a ‘good guy’.  This is, of course, precisely why state law requires disclaimers on ads – so voters know who is actually sponsoring political advertising.

Jim Roers needs to apologize for attempting to deceive voters in the District for violating the law.

If not for the District 46 Democratic-NPL shedding light into the matter, nobody would know this rule breaking was going on.  But then again, we are used to Roers breaking campaign rules.

You’ve already read about sign violations in this campaign. (A Matter of Respect)

In 2012, Roers violated city sign ordinances by placing mobile billboards within the district.  It took numerous requests from the city to get Roers to remove them.

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In the same campaign, Roers appeared to have violated state law prohibiting corporate contributions.  Those trailers belonged to Roers Construction.  His campaign website was hosted by Roers Construction, and Roers Construction pickups were regularly seen within the district as employees were distributing campaign literature.  None of these contributions from Roers Inc. were reported.  And frankly, it appears that this activity allowed Jim Roers to deduct campaign expenditures as a business expense – and that also would be illegal.

Certainly, Jim Roers should have known better.  And his corporate attorney, Shannon Roers-Jones, should have known better too.

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Finally, it is important to point out that Roers’ television buy of $35,250 unprecedented by one candidate in a ND State Senate race.

The ND Secretary of State’s website shows a Jim Roers Senate campaign received an astounding $40,000 contribution from one wealthy California businessman.  Clearly, this was intended to finance the television media buy.  (For more on the Roers-Challey connection, click here.)

It seems that Roers and his friends are intent on purchasing a ND Senate Seat in 2016.  District 46 Democratic-NPL is committed to keeping that from happening.  We need a Senator who represents District 46, not a wealthy California businessman.

We need to re-elect Senator George Sinner!

Kasper: Ethics and Legislators Don’t Mix

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Teachers, Law Enforcement Officers, Medical Professionals, and Firemen all are are required to abide by an established Code of Ethical Conduct.   Why then, shouldn’t Legislators like Kasper have to follow similar ethical standards?

‘There’s not one instance of impropriety,” Kasper said.  “We don’t have a problem with unethical behavior in North Dakota.” (March 12, 2015, Associated Press)

Jim Kasper has dismissed every ethics reform measure to come before the House of Representatives.

Ethics Standards are about avoiding Conflict of Interest or the appearance of Conflict of Interest.  On those measures, North Dakota scores poorly.  The Center for Public Integrity’s most recent report gave North Dakota a D- overall and an F in categories of Political Financing, Legislative Accountability, Lobbying Disclosure, and Ethics Enforcement Agencies.

A code of ethical conduct and appropriate public disclosure would provide North Dakota citizens basic information on conflicts of interest, self dealing, and  how interest groups are influencing legislators. 

Kasper is the poster child when it comes to industry sponsored influence peddling.  In 2005, Kasper sponsored legislation to provide the internet poker industry a U.S. location to conduct business.  His bill was defeated in the Senate. Kasper was rewarded with industry sponsored vacations to Montreal, Antigua, Las Vegas, Costa Rica, and the Bahamas in exchange for short presentation.  None of Kasper’s trips were reported.  They were known only because of reports published by the industry.

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Kasper at Poker Industry Expo, December 3-4, 2005 in Costa Rica.

Here’s the real truth – The reason we don’t have ethics violations in North Dakota is because WE HAVE NO RULES!

In 2015 the following Bills were introduced, sent to Representative Kasper’s committee, and with Kasper’s recommendation, killed on the House floor on a nearly party line vote.

HCR3060 – A Constitutional Amendment to create a State Ethics Commission

Three bills were introduced related to campaign funding.  HB1253 would have prohibited personal use of campaign donations.  HB1290 required reporting on expenditures of $200 or more.  HB1289 required reporting of gross contributions of $200 or less and cash on hand.

HB1292 required reporting of ‘Scholarship Funds’ – money paid for travel and other expenses by interest groups and lobbyists to attend conferences, meetings, or other events.

In response to a question about creating an Ethics Commission at the LWV Forum on October 18th, Jim Kasper said, “They were terrible bills.”  Shannon Roers-Jones said, “It was a bad bill, because it provided no due process.”  Jim Roers completely confused criminal acts with ethics rules (meant to avoid conflicts of interest or their appearance) saying, “If you have a complaint, go to the States Attorney.”

Not one Republican candidate mentioned that D46 Republican Representative Kathy Hawken was a co-sponsor of HCR3060 in the 2015 session.  Hawken broke from her caucus to vote in favor of HCR3060 and all four ethics related bills mentioned above.

Speaking in favor of the resolution, Hawken said she’s noticed a change during her 20 years in the Legislature, “and it’s a very sad one.”

In reality, language set forth to establish an ethics commission was model legislation adopted in other states.  It is the non-partisan commission’s responsibility to recommend legislation, establish codes of conduct, and rules (including due process) of operation.  An Ethics Commission clears the path for a more ethical state government.

North Dakota will never have an Ethics Commission or establish a Code of Ethical Conduct for Legislators until we get rid of Jim Kasper.

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Get Your Voice Back

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A Matter of Respect

 

Earlier, you may have read how, during the 2012 campaign, District 46 Republican candidates led by Jim Kasper and Jim Roers decided to violate city sign ordinances.

Read: Obnoxious Campaign Signs? Thank Representative Kasper, June 9, 2016

At that time, they turned Roers Inc. trailers into illegal billboards and placed them throughout the district.  It took quite an effort by the City of Fargo to get them removed, but eventually and begrudgingly, Jim Roers removed the illegal trailer billboards.

In the 2013 session, Kasper’s committee amended a bill, to eliminate all city and county regulation of political signage.  Kasper’s committee misrepresented court rulings and wiped out all ND political subdivision sign laws so he could get his way back home.

This year, the Roers/Kasper/Roers-Jones (RKR-J) campaign decided to ignore rules once again.  A large portion of Rose Creek agreed to covenants limiting the size and number of signs that may be placed, and prohibiting placement in certain locations (like perimeter fences).   What is interesting is that, when notified, residents who had agreed to RKR-J signs asked RKR-J to remove them after the new covenants were approved.  The RKR-J campaign is apparently contending that Rose Creek Covenants are a violation of state law (Kasper’s law from 2013).

Democratic-NPL candidates Sinner, Diederich, & Fisher decided early on to: 1) respect Fargo’s sign ordinances regardless of Kasper’s law to overrule them; and 2) respect all development association covenants.  That’s why you won’t see 4’X8′ or 3’X5′ signs hanging on fences throughout the district from their campaign.  Nor will our candidates place signs against the wishes of development subdivisions when notified.

We anticipated the RKR-J campaign would take advantage to Kasper’s sign law, but we didn’t think they would thumb their nose at development association covenants.

Here’s why.  On April 16, 2013, when they were considering Kasper’s sign law in Conference Committee, the topic of covenants was raised.

Representative Koppelman responded to Senator Carolyn Nelson’s question about covenants, “Covenants are also not ordinances. They are contracts. Unless otherwise prohibited by state law, you can contract and agree not to do this. ”  Kasper then agrees saying, ‘”The long and short of it is that it appears that you may do a covenant with a subdivision, but this bill does not address that.  This deals with the  political entities. ”  Senator Nelson: So if they want a clutter free subdivision they can?  Representative Kasper: It appears so.

So here are our questions.

  • Why can’t the District 46 Campaign team of Roers/Kasper/Roers-Jones simply respect Fargo’s sign ordinances?
  • Why can’t the District 46 Campaign team of Roers/Kasper/Roers-Jones simply respect the covenants of a large portion of Rose Creek?
  • Why does the District 46 Campaign team of Roers/Kasper/Roers-Jones insist on ignoring the authority of Covenants (contracts) when in 2013, even Jim Kasper agreed Covenants could restrict signage?

Why should District 46 voters elect a team that ignores local rules, but wants to go to Bismarck to make them for everyone else?