Dunn County residents submit petition to put governor Jack Dalrymple before grand jury

Dunn County residents submit petition to put governor before grand jury by Amy Dalrymple, October 31, 2012, The Dickinson Press
Residents of Dunn County want a grand jury to decide if campaign contributions Gov. Jack Dalrymple accepted from the oil industry may be considered bribery. More than 170 residents signed a petition submitted Wednesday that could force the Dunn County District Court to convene a grand jury and consider whether Dalrymple should be prosecuted under Class C felony bribery statutes. The petition, which uses a state statute that may not have been used in decades, stems from money Dalrymple’s campaign accepted while he was also serving as the head of the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

Lisa Guenther, Dunn County clerk of court, said she received documents Wednesday, but they were not yet filed as an official record. Because the documents involve criminal allegations, Guenther said Dunn County State’s Attorney Ross Sundeen will review them before they are filed.

A report written by two Grand Forks attorneys raises questions about $81,600 in campaign contributions that were accepted in late 2011 through May 2012, the same time Dalrymple and other Industrial Commission members were considering a controversial Dunn County case that involved a large area designated for oil development that included Little Missouri State Park. The commission gave oil developers a favorable ruling.
Attorney David Thompson, who wrote the report with recent law school graduate Erik Escarraman, equates the campaign contributions to bribing a judge. The contributions came from people who had an interest in a pending administrative case that Dalrymple presides over, Thompson said.

“We’re deeply concerned about the influence of oil in corrupting our political process and extreme amounts of money that are now in play,”

“We’re tired of the corruption,” McAlpin said.

The attorneys’ report focuses on contributions made by Continental Resources employees, including a $20,000 gift from CEO Harold Hamm, as well as contributions from other oil companies who had an interest in a spacing unit near Killdeer. Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. petitioned to develop nearly 31,000 acres as one large unit as opposed to developing typical 1,280-acre spacing units. Several companies have interests in the “mega-unit,” but Burlington has more than 68 percent of working interest.

Other contributions he ties to the unit include a $25,000 gift from John Hess, CEO of Hess Corp., and other donations that add up to $81,600.

Kristin Miskovsky, Continental Resources vice president for public relations, called the bribery allegations outrageous. “We have a code of ethics policy and we take it very seriously,” Miskovsky said. “It is an absolutely outrageous allegation and totally false.” John Morrison, the attorney for Burlington Resources and Conoco Phillips, declined to comment about the attorneys’ report.

“I am deeply grateful to the citizens of Dunn County for insisting that some official review take place of this kind of behavior,” Chaffee said. “I think it took courage on their part and I think it’s the right thing to do.” [Emphasis added]
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