Yesterday left-wing talk radio host Joel Heitkamp announced on his show that he would be accompanying President Barack Obama during his historic upcoming trip to Cuba.
That was the headline for the article written about Heitkamp’s announcement by a KFGO reporter. A more accurate and honest headline would have stated that Heitkamp is accompanying his sister, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, to Cuba.
Because Senator Heitkamp is the only reason why talk radio host Heitkamp is going to Cuba.
And it’s the latest troubling example of Joel Heitkamp getting extra special access to things because of his connections to his sister the Senator. Back in September KFGO announced that Heitkamp would be traveling to Washington D.C. for the historic visit there by Pope Francis.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Can Senator Heitkamp, an elected public servant, really think of nobody else in North Dakota more worthy of invite to these events than her brother?[/mks_pullquote]
That invite was because of Senator Heitkamp as well.
It’s not clear whether or not Joel Heitkamp has been paying his own way, or if these trips are in anyway subsidized by the taxpayers, but that’s just one area of concern.
Another is an ethical question. Is it kosher for a U.S. Senator to user her access to high-profile events to advance the media career of her brother?
Can Senator Heitkamp, an elected public servant, really think of nobody else in North Dakota more worthy of invite to these events than her brother?
The Cuba trip, in particular, is egregious. Cuba is an important trade partner with North Dakota. I am happy with the work Senator Heitkamp, not to mention Senator Byron Dorgan before her, has done to help normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Is there not a business leader, or a state official, more worthy of this trip than her brother? I understand that the audience for Heitkamp’s show is shrinking, and that he probably needs a boost, but I would like to think she’d take her trip there more seriously than this.
Her brother’s inclusion in the trip doesn’t reflect well on her.
At best this is an unseemly bit of nepotism. At worse, it’s an abuse of Heitkamp’s duties and privileges as a U.S. Senator.
By the way, add this to the growing list of evidence suggesting that Heitkamp isn’t running for re-election again in 2018. Heidi Heitkamp is an astute politician. Does she do something this tone deaf if she actually planned on running again?