Governor Burgum Announces That He’s Reimbursing Xcel Energy for His Super Bowl Tickets

I’ve been very critical this week, both here on the blog and on the radio show, of Governor Doug Burgum’s decision to take free Super Bowl tickets from Xcel Energy.

Burgum got to sit in Xcel’s luxury suite during the big game.

Per this statement just emailed to me by Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki, the Governor has reimbursed the company for the price of the ticket.

The full statement is below. Nowatzki told me previously that all other expenses from Burgum’s trip to the Super Bowl were paid by him personally.

Earlier today I reported that the Governor’s office doesn’t currently have an ethics policy. Nowatzki told me they are working on developing a policy and will release it to the public when it’s ready. It will be interesting to see how that policy will address gifts such as this one.

“One of my priorities as governor is working to attract capital and talent to North Dakota to ensure our state can be competitive in the 21st century economy.

“Many of the large companies that play an important role in North Dakota’s economy are headquartered in other states. And these organizations all can and do make choices about where to deploy their capital investments.

“Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy is an investor-owned utility that serves eight states. In North Dakota, Xcel has significant investments in generation and transmission, as well as local distribution, including in three of our four largest cities.

“Since taking office, I have been a strong and consistent advocate for increased investment by Xcel in their local distribution infrastructure. Aging infrastructure creates issues with reliability and capacity, affecting our ability to attract businesses and workforce to our city centers.

“One of the three pillars of my Main Street Initiative is smart, efficient infrastructure, which includes working with our utility providers to ensure all our communities have the infrastructure they need.

“While in Minneapolis, I was afforded quality time to engage in constructive conversations with top Xcel executives, expressing my strong desire for Xcel to invest additional capital in their North Dakota markets.

“At the end of the day, I am fully confident I’ve kept the best interests of North Dakotans at the heart and forefront of everything I do. And while I recognize some may feel differently, I know with certainty that tickets to a sporting event have not influenced, and will not influence, my decision-making as governor.

“However, to eliminate even the perception of any conflict, I have reimbursed Xcel Energy for the full cost of the tickets. I look forward to working with Xcel and other organizations to continue to make the case for enhanced investments in our great state.”

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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