Mailers attacking District 46 Democratic-NPL candidates placed Jim Roers, Jim Kasper, and Shannon Roers-Jones squarely against the NDSU Nursing Program.
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.
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.
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.
“Don’t assume that the State of North Dakota will step up to the plate with those (Diversion) dollars.”
This statement by Representative Jim Kasper at the September 13, 2012 FM Diversion Public Meeting (1 hr, 19 m) foreshadowed Kasper’s public position only a few short months later. Kasper was cautioning local leaders not to expect state support for the project. Kasper’s statement was applauded by Diversion opponents attending the meeting. And numerous columns written by opponents referenced Kasper’s statement as they vigorously argued against the project.
Only a few months later during the 2013 Legislative Session, Representative Al amended the State Water Commission budget with what local leaders called ‘diversion killing’ amendments. Carlson’s amendment reduced state support for Fargo Flood protection by $125 million, prohibited funds to be used for: a river diversion, dikes and levees associated with the diversion, and limited protection to less than the Army Corps 100 year level.
The Forum’s editorial at the time said Carlson insulted local leaders and betrayed the people he purports to represent
But Carlson was not alone. Jim Kasper was one of two Fargo Republican legislators who publicly supported Al Carlson’s attempt to scuttle the FM Diversion during the 2013 Session (Forum, February 27, 2013).
In contrast, Representative Kathy Hawken (R, District 46) had the following comment about the amendment. “They’re truly awful. We haven’t done what they’re doing to Fargo to any other district on any other water bill. It’s a micromanaging of it.”
It took weeks and a great deal of hard work by Senator Tony Grindberg (R, D41) and Senator George Sinner to undue Carlson and Kasper’s damaging amendments.
It’s now four years later and Jim Kasper and his friends are telling people they are ‘born again’ Diversion supporters.
So here’s a statement of caution for the residents of District 46.
Don’t assume Jim Kasper and his allies will step up to the plate to provide permanent flood protection for District 46.
He tried to scuttle the Diversion once.
Will you trust him again?
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.
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.
Get Your Voice Back
As the 2015 Legislative Session was winding down, Al Carlson, Jim Kasper and their extreme cronies put personal interest above the public interest when they adjourned without resolving the SB2022, the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) Budget Bill.
This last minute dysfunction, led by Carlson and Kasper, resulted in a special session that unnecessarily cost ND Taxpayers at least $69,000.
In February of 2015, the ND Public Employees Retirement System Board awarded health coverage for state employees to the Sanford Health Plan after a competitive bid process.
Note: As legislators, Carlson and Kasper participate in the NDPERS Health Plan. Despite statements that they were trying to ‘protect’ state employee benefits, it isn’t a big leap to believe they were more concerned over how this change in coverage could affect them!
HB1475 was introduced and referred to the House IBL Committee where Kasper is a member. The amended measure was intended to interfere with the contract awarded to the Sanford Health Plan by the NDPERS Board. On March 26th, HB1475 passed the House. The Senate voted 46-0 to defeat the measure after concluding approval of the bill would be a breach of contract.
Late in the session, however, the House insisted on adding the provisions of HB1475 to the PERS Budget Bill. The Senate did not agree and appointed new conferees to resolve their differences. Meanwhile, Kasper, Carlson and their cronies adjourned the Legislative session in a risky attempt to force the Senate to comply. They did not.
Because of concern, related more to personal interest than public interest, Kasper and Carlson lost at a risky game of chicken. And ND taxpayers had to pay more than $69,000 for their dysfunctional actions.
Fire Jim Kasper & his Extreme Cronies on November 8th!
AND Get your Voice Back
Re-Elect George Sinner
Elect Kirsten Diederich and Dan Fisher
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.
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?