According to the Bismarck Tribune, Governor Jack Dalrymple owns stock in an oil company that made headlines earlier this week by staking out an oil well near the historic Theodore Roosevelt National Park. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but Dalrymple shutting down requests for transparency about the matter in advance of his ruling on that oil pad as a part of the State Industrial Commission is:
Through a spokesman, Dalrymple said he is not going to disclose the details of those shares, including how many or their value.
“He is not going to discuss the details of his personal finances,” said Jeff Zent, the governor’s policy adviser.
He said the governor did disclose his financial interests with the secretary of state’s office, as required.
The governor lists interest in ExxonMobil and dozens of other companies on an attachment separate from his Merrill-Lynch retirement plan. The list doesn’t contain the number of shares owned.
Not only is Governor Dalrymple not disclosing details about his investments, but his office is pushing back against the idea that he ought to recuse himself voting on this company’s proposal.
That is unbelievably tone deaf. And a little arrogant.
There are already plenty of accusations – most of the the result of exaggeration or outright conspiracy theories – about North Dakota being “bought and paid for” by big oil. The Governor isn’t helping to dispel any of those myths by stonewalling good-faith inquiries into his financial stake in “big oil.” I doubt very much that a single well pad in western North Dakota is going to swing the value of Dalrymple’s stock all that much, but that’s not the point.
The people have a right to know. Enough people are already suspicious of Dalrymple’s relationship with the oil industry that two petitions have been circulated (ultimately unsuccessfully) to convene a grand jury to investigate the matter. Now his office is throwing fuel on the fire.
Dalrymple should have been out in front of this, disclosing to the public his financial interests and explaining how they impact his decision making if at all. Instead his office is rebuking inquiries, turning what might be a small and irrelevant financial holding into a big deal.
Here’s a copy of Dalrymple’s financial disclosure, which as you can see is pretty thin on details: