A new campaign ad in the North Dakota Senate race claims Republican contender Kevin Cramer gave himself a five-figure raise as a public official.
“Could you give yourself a $23,000 raise?” the ad voiceover says. “Ask Kevin Cramer. On the Public Service Commission, he raised his pay to over $93,650.”
Cramer did get raises totalling that amount. But the ad completely distorts Cramer’s hand in securing the pay increase.
The Public Service Commission has three commissioners who are elected to six-year terms. They regulate utilities, pipeline safety, telecommunications, railroads and other state services.
Cramer joined the commission in August 2003. He served until the end of 2012, when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Commissioners’ salaries usually originate from the governor’s office, which works with the Office of Management and Budget to determine how much money is available for public officials, according to Jeff Larshus, director of state financial services at the OMB.
The governor then submits a budget to the Legislative Assembly, which writes the salaries into statute and votes on their approval.
So saying Cramer raised his own salary ignores the arbiter of that salary.
The OMB proposed and received across the board salary hikes for elected officials every year between 2005 and 2012. These include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, superintendent for public instruction, state auditor, state treasurer, and the tax, insurance, public service and agriculture commissioners.
In 2005, they all got a 4 percent hike from their last salary number, determined in 2002. They got three more 4 percent hikes in 2006, 2007, and 2008, a 5 percent increase in 2009, another 5 percent increase in 2010, and then 3 percent in 2011 and again in 2012. While their salaries all differ, the percentage increases were equal across the board.
That’s how Cramer’s salary jumped from $69,874 to $95,611 from the time he was elected to the time he left office — a $25,737 increase.
“So did it go up considerably during that time frame?” Larshus said. “Yes. But it wasn’t because the commissioner asked for the salary.”
Commissioners submit a budget to the OMB every two years. There, they can suggest compensation for commissioners. But staff at the Public Service Commission and at the OMB said they could not recall an instance in which they had requested salary bumps for commissioners.
The OMB had three of the four budget requests during which Cramer served and got salary hikes on file. Only one asked for equity funds to raise administrative staff salaries. But that does not include the commissioners, according to Jill Kringstad, Accounting Budget Specialist. She could not recall any instances where commissioners’ salary increases were included in budget requests.
The bottom line is that the legislative assembly needs to approve, write into law and vote on any proposed salaries for elected officials proposed by the OMB. These salary changes were all ultimately set by the legislature.
Heitkamp’s office said Cramer could have refused to accept the raises or requested lower salary numbers to the OMB. The current governor had to change a North Dakota statute in order to fulfill his campaign promise to refuse pay.
Heitkamp said, “Could you give yourself a $23,000 raise? Ask Kevin Cramer. On the public service Commission, he raised his pay to over $93,650.”
Cramer’s salary increased by $25,737 during his tenure on the Public Service Commission. But he didn’t give himself that raise. The governor proposed it, the OMB drafted it, and the legislative assembly voted on its passage. The other 12 elected officials in North Dakota received the same percentage salary bump.
We rate this statement False.
- Heitkamp said “we need to take politics out” of this process, so why did she release a political ad touting her position?
- Heitkamp announced her decision last Thursday and released her new ad Saturday, though she had been in Washington DC the entire time. Did she film the ad out of state, or did she film it before she told North Dakotans her position?
- Heitkamp says in this ad she doesn’t think he’s telling the truth, but she told local reporters “that doesn’t mean I don’t believe him.” Why is she telling media one thing, and voters another?
- Heitkamp said in her ad this is about judgment and temperament. If so, does she agree with her colleagues that Brett Kavanaugh should be impeached?
- The mean-spirited, thoroughly repugnant crusade against Kavanaugh by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s political party has created a backlash which has damaged her re-election campaign.
- Cramer, a Republican, has led in every single poll released to the public since February, but until the Kavanaugh fight began those leads were consistently small.
- Democrats, meanwhile, are doing damage control.
- What we are left with, then, is a Democratic Senate incumbent who, lacking the courage of the convictions expressed in her campaign messaging, has utterly failed to call out her own party for perpetrating a weeks-long travesty on Judge Kavanaugh and his family.
- Now she’s paying for it at the polls, and even voting for Kavanaugh may not be enough to reverse the trend.
Trust The Polls: Heidi Heitkamp Is In Trouble
- Poll of the week: A new Fox News poll gives Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer a 53% to 41% lead over Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in the North Dakota Senate race. The bottom line is that a loss in North Dakota leaves Democrats in a far worse position in the race for control of the Senate.
- Perhaps because of the importance of North Dakota, a number of Democrats have argued that the polling in North Dakota may be wrong. Specifically, people like to point out that Heitkamp won in 2012 even though the public polling showed that she was going to lose.
- Most of the public polling in 2012 painted a picture of a closer race than the polls do now.
- Moreover, it’s not as if there has been a consistent pro-Democratic bias in the polling out of North Dakota.
- Heitkamp’s decision to vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court may help her, though polls suggests the opposite.
- If the polls stay where they are, the forecast will grow worse for Heitkamp and it’s quite likely she will lose. That would likely mean Republicans would continue to hold their majority in the Senate come next year.
- The National Rifle Association is going after Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) after she announced she will vote no in opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
- “Today, Heidi Heitkamp put partisan politics above the rights of law-abiding North Dakota gun owners. Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court is split 4-4 on the basic right to keep a firearm in the home for self-defense. Therefore, a vote against confirming Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a vote against the fundamental right to self-defense,” the NRA released in a statement.
- “Today, Heidi Heitkamp announced her intent to vote against the basic right to keep a firearm in your home for self-defense. Make no mistake – that is what’s at stake.”
- Her decision is already impacting her chances for reelection in the state.
The country’s most vulnerable Senator, Heidi Heitkamp, just made her final stand against the people of North Dakota, voting NO on Brett Kavanaugh becoming our next Supreme Court Justice.
Heidi Heitkamp today voted no on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, just as President Trump said she would. Heitkamp wants to paint her obstructionist opposition as non-political and courageous, but the opposite is true.
North Dakota voters want for a Senator who won’t side with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Chuck Schumer over their own interests. They are ready for Kevin Cramer, who will always put North Dakota first.
President Trump came to Fargo, ND in June for Kevin Cramer and made this proclamation about Heidi Heitkamp:
“Heidi will vote ‘no’ to any pick we make to the Supreme Court.”
The President was right. Heidi Heitkamp just sided with liberals Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to obstruct President Trump and oppose the exceptionally qualified Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
LET’S BE CLEAR— Heidi Heitkamp just failed North Dakota, and voters know it. This race is now between a candidate who will be a voice for North Dakota and another candidate who politicizes every issue and staunchly opposes President Trump at every turn.
Given that a majority of her constituents want this exemplary nominee confirmed, Heidi Heitkamp is on the wrong side of history, and this will be the last consequential vote of her career.
Heidi Heitkamp is running scared. From her record, from her critics, from taking a stance on Kavanaugh, and today, from reporters in the Senate basement:
Bloomberg Congressional Reporter
As the Senate gets closer to voting on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the faster Heitkamp seems to get. When Judge Kavanaugh was first announced, she was “practically jogging” from reporters:
Forum Commentator Rob Port:
When her friends on the Judiciary Committee began their obstructionist tactics, she “bolted” from answering CNN about it:
CNN Congressional Correspondent:
And now, she’s literally running.
But no matter what she does, Heidi Heitkamp can’t escape the nightmare scenario President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has created for her.
- Their released poll began in mid-September.
- Their released poll only covered three cities (Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks)
- Their released poll is only sampled to include 45% of North Dakota’s voting population.
- Their released poll’s self-proclaimed hope is to prove this race is still a “toss-up,” despite how leading election forecasters see it.
With 34 days left until the election, the most vulnerable Senator in the country just had one of the worst 24 hour periods of her campaign.
- NBC News: The ad … says Heitkamp ‘did nothing’ to defend law enforcement or protect property rights during Dakota Access Pipeline protests in the state in 2016.
- House Majority Leader Al Carlson: My communications when we had any were always with Sen. Hoeven. I did not have any discussion or did their [Heitkamp] office ever reach out … Sen. Hoeven to his credit stepped forward and he was in constant communication with us. We received basically no communication, at least I did not, from the other side of the aisle.
- Buzzfeed: New ad from the North Dakota Republican Party hits Heitkamp over DAPL
- Forum Commentator Rob Port: Make no doubt about it, this is a damaging ad for Heitkamp. No North Dakotan who was living in the state during the protests will believe that Heitkamp behaved like a leader.
- Breitbart News: The state party pointed to a congressional race fundraiser Heitkamp once held for pipeline protest leader Chase Iron Eyes at her D.C. home.
- NTK Network: New Ad Hits Heitkamp For Not Protecting Law Enforcement During Pipeline Protest
- I gave up my career and began working on Kevin’s campaigns in a professional capacity as campaign manager. Recently, Senator Heitkamp’s campaign hit a shameful new low with the release of a television ad specifically targeting me and the fact that I get paid for my work on Kevin’s campaign.
- Clearly, Senator Heitkamp is only supportive of women when it suits her political objectives. Should I not have worked in that role just because I’m Kevin Cramer’s wife? Worse yet, should I have not been paid for my work just because I am his wife? I’m disappointed to think that Sen. Heitkamp would diminish a woman’s role like this and insinuate that it is somehow wrong for a woman, any woman, to be compensated for her work.
- As typical of the ads we’ve seen coming from her campaign, Sen. Heitkamp also went to great lengths to sensationalize her attack by making the amount I was paid seem like a giant one-time payment rather than monthly compensation over several years.
- I firmly believe this escalation in negative rhetoric, demonizing a working professional who just happens to be a woman and drawing our family into the political fray is a shameful development. The people of our state don’t deserve it and my family doesn’t deserve it. We must demand better from Senator Heitkamp.