Back in February of last year I was the first to report that North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was the only Republican Attorney General to sign on to an amicus brief defending Obamacare in the King versus Burwell Supreme Court case.
Now that Stenehjem is in the midst of a battle for the NDGOP nomination to be governor that signature on an amicus brief has become a big issue.
Stenehjem’s opponents – state Rep. Rick Becker and Fargo businessman Doug Burgum – have been ripping Stenehjem for the filing. Burgum, specifically, has targeted Stenehjem over the filing in a mailer sent out just days before the NDGOP’s nominationg convention (which will not be decisive as Burgum has vowed to continue to the June primary regardless of the convention outcome).
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]“I think that’s a bait and switch,” Stenehjem told me during an interview earlier this month (audio), adding that it would be “unconscionable” to deny people that subsidy.[/mks_pullquote]
The mailer is below, sent in by a reader. It’s signed by Dr. Beth Allmendinger, a Naturopathic Physician and Acupuncturist at Dakota Natural Health Center according to her Facebook profile.
The Burwell case challenged the federal government’s ability to deliver subsidies for Obamacare policies purchased through the federal exchange. Proponents of the lawsuit argued that it would have made the law unworkable and led to its downfall. Stenehjem didn’t agree, saying that North Dakotans who signed up for policies through the federal exchange would have lost subsidies they were promised.
“I think that’s a bait and switch,” Stenehjem told me during an interview earlier this month (audio), adding that it would be “unconscionable” to deny people that subsidy.
“I look at these things without a political agenda,” Stenehjem told me when I asked why he was the only Republican to sign the brief.
I’m not sure those explanations are going to convince the Republican base showing up to the NDGOP convention this weekend, or voting in the June primary.
This is probably the most substantive criticism of Stenehjem the Burgum campaign has come up with to date.
Though, for the record, Stenehjem did join North Dakota to the state-led class action lawsuit against Obamacare, so it’s not like he’s a supporter of the law.