Erratic Legislator Berates State Contractor In Committee


Anyone who follows North Dakota politics, particularly the politics of the state legislature, is well aware of Senator Connie Tripletts antics. She was the legislator who brought the state Senate to a standstill last year by throwing a fit and storming off the floor, going MIA (video here). She’s known for standing and berating her fellow Senators during floor speeches, another no-no in the legislature, and last year faced disciplinary actions after apparently stiffing a client (Triplett works as an attorney).

Triplett’s excuse in that instance was that she was depressed and has been taking anti-depressants.

Yesterday, during a meeting of the interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee, Triplett went off on a state contractor who is studying the future impacts of the oil boom. The contractor – KLJ – was testifying before the committee about a draft of the report they had sent out for review by industry experts and government agencies so that their assumptions in the report could be validated. They told the committee that they would have their report available for legislators after the review.

That wasn’t good enough for Triplett, who wanted the report immediately and threatened to withhold the contractor’s pay according to Forum Communication’s Mike Nowatzki.

Ultimately the committee did decide to withhold KLJ’s pay until they get the report on April 8th, but in private conversations with other legislators on the committee I’m told Triplett’s behavior was seen as bizarre and unbecoming.

“I don’t mind KLJ getting some tough questions but she was out of line,” one committee member told me. “It’s just Connie being Connie.”

I asked what had inspired Triplett’s behavior, and at least one other committee member thinks it’s retribution for KLJ winning the contract. “She voted to hire the other consulting firm, and she is going to look for every reason to show why she was right and we were all wrong,” I’m told.

Triplett did vote for a New York-based firm over KLJ for this contract. But losing that vote doesn’t seem like just cause to berate the contractor that did win the contract, especially over the contractor wanting to ensure that a report is accurate, with valid assumptions, before it’s presented to lawmakers.

Regardless, this is why these committee meetings need be recorded on video, and streamed to the internet, like the legislature’s floor sessions are.