Earlier today a Republican lawmaker forwarded me this photo of a letter distributed by Robert Harms to the Senate Finance and Tax Committee. In the letter, on Harms Group letterhead, Harms (who is also the Chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party) describes himself as “the lobbyist for Tradewind Energy.”
The problem? Well as 9:51am this morning, February 11th, Tradewind Energy isn’t registered as an organization with a lobbyist with the Secretary of State’s office, and while Harms is listed as a registered lobbyist for several organizations, Tradewind Energy isn’t one of them.
Here’s what state law has to say about the matter: “Before engaging in any of the activities listed in section 54-05.1-02, an individual shall register with the secretary of state”
Harms’ letter is dated February 2nd.
The legislation referenced at the top of the letter appears to be a typo. According to the legislature’s bill database, SB2027 is reform to the state’s probation law for convicts and has nothing to do with wind energy. Rather, Harms’ letter is in reference to SB2037 which relates to taxation for wind turbines.
I contacted Harms about this matter via email this morning. He stated that he got a lobbying authorization from Tradewind “on Monday” but that he hadn’t filed it with the Secretary of State’s office yet.
“My mistake in not getting paperwork signed for Tradewind,” he told me. “I got the authorization over the weekend. It has been filed w/ SOS this morning.”
Back in January of 2014 Harms riled Republicans when he made comments about slowing down the state’s oil boom. We also revealed here on SAB that Harms was, at the time, a registered lobbyist for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Lobbying for environmental activists didn’t exactly endear Harms to his fellow Republicans.
Harms ended up apologizing to party leadership for his comments, though he also stated that he doesn’t “represent any client in my lobbying practice whose cause I don’t fully support.”