In Fargo, City Council candidate John Strand is now undergoing a police investigation because he used a digital projector to cast a campaign message onto a public water tower. The prosecutor leading the charge is Birch Burdick.
I noted in a post about the matter yesterday that these sort of piddling campaign violations are pretty common. I found that no fewer than 18 candidates for the state Legislature were using state-issued email addresses, something that’s pretty clearly not allowed under the law.
The folks at Valley News Live piggybacked on my story from yesterday and took a much more expansive look at the use of state emails by candidates. They found no fewer than 82 candidates statewide using government email addresses for their campaigns (full list below).
But here’s the funny party: Among those candidates was…Birch Burdick:
According to the Secretary of State’s records, Birch Burdick, current Cass County State’s Attorney, registered with his government email address. He’s also the attorney reviewing the complaint against John Strand. Burdick didn’t return our phone calls, but he did respond over email.
“You are the only person to have used it to contact me pursuant to finding it on the election form, and I have not used it to contact others for a campaign purpose,” Burdick wrote. Later, he says, “I am confident the use of this email address does not violate the statute.”
Of course, the guy guilty of misusing his official government email would say that, right?
Many I’ve spoken to since I first posted about this yesterday tell me that the issue is a minor one, and they’re probably right. But then, is this really all that different from House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad, a Democrat from Parshall, using official Legislative letterhead to fundraise for his fellow Democrats?
The law is the law, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect our politicians to follow it. Up to and including those responsible for enforcing the law.