Lawmaker, Gubernatorial Candidate, and Businessman File Bizarre Claims to Nearly $2 Billion of Western North Dakota Land

Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, and Paul Sorum, a former North Dakota gubernatorial candidate, held a news conference Monday, March 19, in Fargo to discuss a lawsuit they filed in Cass County District Court. The suit challenges the constitutionality of a statute that they argue gives away nearly $2 billion of the state's mineral rights and royalties under Lake Sakakawea. Kim Hyatt / The Forum

MINOT, N.D. — Marvin Nelson is a Democratic member of the North Dakota House of Representatives from Rolla.

Michael Coachman is a frequent fringe candidate for office, as both a Republican and an independent, currently challenging incumbent Gov. Doug Burgum for the NDGOP’s nomination.

Paul Sorum has also been a fringe candidate for state office, and a fan of bizarre legal arguments. In 2014 he tried to have himself and Coachman, his running mate at the time, declared the winners of the 2012 gubernatorial election because of a clerical error in the Secretary of State’s office.

That Sorum and Coachman had earned less than 2% of the statewide vote was, apparently, irrelevant.

As you can probably guess, since I’m sure you don’t remember a Sorum administration in the recent past, his gambit wasn’t successful.

Anyway, to the matter at hand.

Nelson, Coachman, and Sorum have, together, filed claims in Williams, Mountrail, and McKenzie counties to some 120,000 acres of western North Dakotan land worth an estimated $1.8 billion by my back-of-the-envelope calculations.

The men plan to split ownership among themselves, which would net each some $600 million.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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