Doug Burgum’s campaign against the “good old boy network” hit a reality shaped ice berg this morning when it came out that he was one of the “good old boys” using investment subsidies intended to promote economic development in North Dakota to support out of state investments.
This afternoon the Burgum campaign emailed to let me know that Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s running mate, state Senator Nicole Poolman, voted to increase the lifetime cap on tax credits for angel fund investments.
“Wayne’s running mate, Nicole Poolman, apparently liked the angel fund credit so much that she voted to more than triple it,” Burgum spokeswoman Kate Mund emailed me.
They’re right. The bill was SB2325, and it did expand the cap on the tax credits, taking it from $150,000 to $500,000.
And Senator Poolman did vote for it:
The thing is, this seems like something of a deflection.
The argument isn’t against the tax credits, per se. The argument is against how Doug Burgum’s capital firm Arthur Ventures (among other investors) have been using these credits. Lawmakers assumed that they were being used to subsidize investments in North Dakota.
Instead, as I wrote earlier, these investments were being used to subsidize business out of state. Since 2011 Arthur Ventures has received subsidies for 14 angel fund investments, with 11 of them having no discernible benefit to the State of North Dakota.
I added this letter in an update to my post earlier today, but it’s pertinent here too. In September of last year – long before anyone knew Doug Burgum would be running for governor – the Commerce Department told Arthur Ventures that they had been using investment subsidies inappropriately:
In a nutshell, Burgum and his partners in Arthur Ventures have been receiving subsidies from North Dakota taxpayers to invest in things that have no benefit for North Dakota.
To the extent that Senator Poolman voted to expand a subsidy for which lawmakers are now admitting had not nearly enough oversight, shame on her. But the Burgum campaign trying to conflate her vote to expand this tax credit with the abuse of the tax credits is a little ridiculous.