Leaked Email: Senator Heidi Heitkamp “Not Obsessed” With Keystone Pipeline, Has Made “No Decision” About Political Future


Senator Heidi Heitkamp provides Chamber members a Congressional update as she wraps up her first year representing North Dakota in the United States Senate Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at the North Dakota State College of Science Skills and Technology Center in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum

I’ve been combing through the Wikileaks dump of emails to and from Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta looking for things of interest specifically related to North Dakota.

I found of a couple of emails mentioning North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp that are pretty interesting.

The first is a June 9, 2015 email sent by campaign staffer Milia Fisher which appears to be a briefing about a BBQ event being put on at Heitkamp’s home in Washington D.C. The briefing on Heitkamp, specifically, is pretty interesting. It was apparently prepared ahead of a dinner with “HRC” (Hillary Rodham Clinton) and Heitkamp. It describes her as a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline – though not someone “obsessed” with the issue – and notes that she hasn’t made any decisions about her political future despite being the only Democrat elected to statewide office in our state.

The email mentions what were rumors at the time of Heitkamp running for governor in this election cycle, something Heitkamp ultimately decided against and, even in mid-2015, apparently wasn’t seriously considering:


First, on Keystone, it’s worth remembering that it was an issue central to Senator Heitkamp’s 2012 election victory. She was adamant about supporting its construction if elected, and her departure from other Democrats on the issue was seen by many, including this observer, as a key to her victory.

“In a state where the energy industry is vital to the economy, Heitkamp made all of the right moves,” the Washington Post wrote in 2012 in an article naming Heitkamp the best candidate of that election cycle. “She blasted Obama’s decision to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline and said the president was ‘wrong on energy.'”

I guess Heitkamp has embraced a somewhat different outlook on the issue since arriving in Washington. Which is troubling given the environmental left’s efforts to choke the oil industry to death by roadblocking pipeline infrastructure. I’m not sure, in that context, that Heitkamp’s lackluster support for Keystone is encouraging.

On a related note, here’s a 2014 email chain among top Clinton advisers discussing the decision to remove mention of the Keystone issue from the candidate’s book. I guess Clinton shares Heitkamp’s lack of enthusiasm for the issue.

Second, it seems clear to me that the email’s reference to Heitkamp’s political future is talking about more than her potential run for governor. Perhaps Heitkamp isn’t sure if she even wants another term in the U.S. Senate? I’ve been hearing rumors along those lines for a while now. I guess this is just more fuel for that fire, though it’s worth keeping in mind that this email is from more than a year ago.

Even so, you’d think a sitting first-term Senator would know by the second half of her term whether or not she’s going to run for another.

I’ve reached out to Senator Heitkamp’s press team for response to the revelations in this email. I’ll update when/if they respond, though they don’t typically respond to me.

The other interesting email I found really has Heitkamp as nothing more than an innocent bystander. In an email sent from Friends of Hillary consultant Erick Mullen to Podesta, he makes amusing reference to a man who insists on telling two Senators, one of them Heitkamp, that Tim Kaine is Clinton’s VP pick:


This isn’t really anything to do with Heitkamp other than it’s clear that our Senator preferred a more moderate VP pick for Clinton than, say, far-left Senator Elizabeth Warren. What’s interesting, though, is that this email was sent in 2015. Earlier this year the Clinton campaign was still dangling the potential for a Warren VP pick to rake in money from progressive contributors.