It’s not been an auspicious couple of week for Democrat campaigns in the state. Last week Agriculture Commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor came out swinging against his opponent Doug Goehring, accusing him of not supporting mandatory technology for pipelines in the state which, according to Taylor, could have prevented or mitigated a recent saltwater spill near Mandaree. What we found out later is a) every single Democrat in the state House except one voted against such a mandate last year and b) the Mandaree pipeline was already equipped with the technology in question.
Pretty embarrassing for Taylor.
Well Democrat US House candidate George Sinner just managed to put his foot in his mouth too, accusing incumbent Rep. Kevin Cramer of missing too many votes in the House.
It’s a pretty thin case against Cramer – as I explained yesterday most of Cramer’s votes have to do with him being on official business back here in North Dakota – but it gets worse for Sinner. Turns out he missed some pretty important votes too, and got paid for it.
Sinner took a vacation the last two days of North Dakota’s 2013 Legislative session. People who follow the Legislature know that last year’s session went down to the wire, to 5:00am on the 80th and final day, as they were considering some crucial bills for the state (because legislators don’t work until 5:00am on routine stuff) including:
HB 1013 – A funding bill for K-12 education and the Department of Public Instruction which included the much-talked-about property tax reform
HB 1015 – The budget for the Office of Management and Budget which contained considerable funding for infrastructure projects
HB 1198 – Major reforms for oil royalties, including tax withholding, and a controversial close to the so-called “stripper well” exemption
HB 1290 – A bill requiring notice to property owners for impending increases in assessments
SB 2003 – The North Dakota University System budget which included major appropriations to building projects
SB 2200 – Major reforms to the funding formula for North Dakota’s universities
Those were some key votes among those taken in final day of the legislative session, which Sinner missed as you can see from that days Senate journal. Where was Sinner?
His campaign had to admit today that he was on vacation, attending a family reunion. What’s more, he received pay for that day, even though he said this in today’s Grand Forks Herald: “If a member misses votes for unexcused reasons, they don’t get paid. Period.”
Sinner is playing some word games there. In the North Dakota Legislature the members vote every day to excuse absent members so that those members can still collect their pay for that day. So Sinner is giving himself some rhetorical wiggle room, I suppose.
“One of the most important lessons my dad taught me was that the work comes first,” Sinner said in a press release yesterday attacking Cramer for his missed votes. Maybe that was something his father told him while he was not showing up to work in the Legislature to attend a family reunion. And getting paid for it.