Audio: Treasurer Kelly Schmidt Says She Felt Ambushed by Legislation to Eliminate Her Office

North Dakota State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt

Yesterday on my radio show I interviewed Treasurer Kelly Schmidt and Rep. Mike Nathe, both Republicans, about the latter’s push to eliminate the former’s office.

You can hear the audio of both interviews below, Schmidt first and Nathe second.

Schmidt told me she felt ambushed by the announcement of legislation, backed by members of her own party, to eliminate her office.

“I was the only one in the room during my budget presentation that didn’t know about this,” she told me, saying she didn’t even get a copy of the press release announcing the initiative which apparently went out during the presentation of her budget to a legislative committee.

Nathe and his co-sponsors said in their original release that their effort to eliminate the office had nothing to do with Schmidt personally, but when I asked Schmidt about whether this was personal she pointed out that there is no effort to eliminate any other office in state government.

“I was the only one in the room during my budget presentation that didn’t know about this,” she told me

“I’ll leave it up to your listeners to decide that,” she said, adding that she was “very disappointed in the way this came forward.”

Nathe disputed the idea that Schmidt was blindsided. “Nobody knew that the release was going out other than my self,” he said, adding that he talked to Schmidt about it after her budget presentation.

“She’s been very well versed,” he continued. “I didn’t see the need to belabor the point.”

Nathe said his legislation will his fellow Republicans to decide if “we are serious about right sizing government.” When I asked him about the fact that voters have twice before rejected the elimination of the Treasurer’s Office – once in the 1980’s and again in 2000 – he said that was irrelevant.

“We have some people today who weren’t voting back then,” he said.

“Things have changed since 2000,” he added.

But Schmidt maintains that she’s done all the right things in office. “We would be a perfect example of what to do right,” she told me.

“It will be an exercise that goes through the process to be decided by the people,” Schmidt said when I asked her, at the beginning of the interview, if she supported this legislation. The Treasurer position is a constitutional office, meaning that eliminating it requires amending the state constitution. Any legislative amendments to the constitution have to be approved on the statewide ballot by voters.

When I pressed Schmidt on how she, as a citizen, would vote on the measure she said she’d vote against it.

“I would vote no because it puts more layers between the people and their money,” she said.

Here are the full interviews:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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