Governor Dayton Says North Dakota Was “Just Trying to Pull Other States in” to #NoDAPL Protests


Governor Mark Dayton remarks about the short amount of time the legislator has to come up with bills for him to sign during a press conference at the Veterans Services Building on Friday night, May 20, 2016. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

The feud between the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and Governor Mark Dayton keeps getting uglier.

It started with the MSA sending Dayton a letter accusing him of making a political decision to ignore requests for assistance with the #NoPAL protests made by North Dakota officials through a state compact. Dayton then responded with his own letter saying he the MSA’s accusations were “offensive” and accusing the State of North Dakota of playing politics with the requests in the first place.

Today, at a press conference, Dayton was asked about the criticism and doubled down on his criticism of North Dakota.

Chris Berg has the audio.

An excerpt from Dayton’s comments:

The political decision was made by North Dakota and the pipeline company months ago that forced this matter, and, so I think it was uncalled for. I think it was unwise. I think it was unnecessary…North Dakota has plenty of money that they can use to send their own law enforcement, their own National Guard. They sent out a request of all 50 states just to try to pull other states into this and make it a broader political dispute than what they already had.

First things first, North Dakota was not in any way asking the State of Minnesota to help pay for the protest response. All states who send personnel and resources have been or will be reimbursed in full. In fact, a big chunk of the more than $38 million in expenses the state accumulated in responding to the protests is the cost of law enforcement assistance from other states.

Dayton suggesting otherwise is evidence that he’s either ignorant of the facts of the situation or being something less than honest.

Second, the idea that North Dakota was just trying “to pull other states” into a “political dispute” is absolute bunk. At the peak of the protests there were more than 10,000 activists in south central North Dakota. Over the course of months these protesters committed hundreds of crimes ranging from trespassing to property damage which can be measured in the millions of dollars.

Our state simply did not have the resources to respond to the protests while continuing to provide route law enforcement services.

Third, the State of North Dakota’s response to the protests was about law and order. Like it or not, the Dakota Access Pipeline was and is today a legal infrastructure project. It has been approved by the proper policymakers and regulators, and those decisions have been repeatedly upheld by the courts. Energy Transfer Partners had every legal right to build their pipeline, and it is law enforcement’s job to protect them from criminal interference.

Dayton has claimed that his handling of EMAC requests from North Dakota was not political. That’s a laughable at this point. It’s clear that Dayton was motivated by animus toward the pipeline, and sought retribution through denied assistance.

That’s a shameful reality.

Earlier today Governor Doug Burgum’s office told me they had no comment on this situation. I hope that changes soon. While I can understand Burgum’s desire not to get drawn into a food fight with Dayton, at this point he’s promoting falsehoods in need of official rebuttal.