What people are telling me is that it’s against the rules of the Department of Veterans Affairs to film political campaign ads in a veteran’s cemetery. And that’s accurate. Per DVA rules, “Political activities, including filming of campaign ads, are not permitted on cemetery grounds.”
But the thing is that the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery isn’t federal property. It was created by the Legislature in 1989, opened in 1992, and is run by the State of North Dakota. It remains the property of North Dakota, even though it has received some federal funding.
“Even though they may have been established or improved with Government funds through VA’s Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, state veterans cemeteries are run solely by the states,” says the DVA website.
So the cemetery is run by the state. What do North Dakota officials think of the ad? They think it breaks the rules, and they said they weren’t told it was being filmed. They’re also trying to get the ad pulled.
I called North Dakota National Guard, which oversees the cemetery, and asked them what their policy is.
“The answer is no they cannot do it,” August Honeyman at the National Guard told me when I asked if political ads could be filmed in the cemetery.
Honeyman told me that the Cramer campaign never contacted their office about filming the ad. “We never got a call asking permission,” he told me.
“They are trying to get that stopped,” Honeyman said, referring to the Guard’s JAG office.
You can bet that Democrats are going to make this gaffe hurt for Cramer.
Cramer’s opponent, George Sinner, has already hit the incumbent on veterans issues, accusing him in a September 29th television ad of cutting funds from veterans benefits.
Update: Rep. Kevin Cramer tells me he’s pulling the ad.