Podcast: Democratic Attorney General Candidate Says Stenehjem, Dalrymple Violated Bribery Statutes

Grand Forks attorney David Thompson is escorted to the podium to accept the ND Democratic party's nomination to run for Attorney General. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

This last weekend Grand Forks attorney David Thompson was endorsed by the North Dakota Democratic Party as their candidate for Attorney General.

Today on my radio show Thompson told me the incumbent Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem, as well as former Governor Jack Dalrymple are both guilty of taking bribes.

“I’m accusing Governor Jack Dalrymple and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of violating the bribery statutes,” Thompson told me.

“I’m accusing Governor Jack Dalrymple and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of violating the bribery statutes,” Thompson told me.

That’s based on a 2012 legal memo Thompson co-authored (here’s the copy of it he provided me with). Back then that memo was the basis for failed efforts to convene, by way of petition, a grand jury to indict Dalrymple, specifically, for bribery.

Thompson told me he expects his bribery accusations to be a “marquee issue” in his 2018 campaign against Stenehjem. As a follow up after the show I asked Thompson if he would pursue prosecution based on these accusations if he’s elected Attorney General. “Within the statute of limitations, yes. Absolutely,” he told me.

We also discussed Thompson’s interesting path to being admitted to the bar in North Dakota. He’s actually never passed the bar exam in North Dakota. and is the only lawyer ever admitted to the bar by the state Supreme Court.

You can read the court’s opinion in the matter here. It was a split decision, with a majority of the court in 1983 backing Thompson. At issue was noise and distraction during the testing resulting from a sales meeting in an adjoining room. Other would-be attorneys who took the test were allowed to re-take it and passed – and per online records there were 33 attorneys currently licensed to practice law in the state who passed the exam the day Thompson failed – but Thompson opted to argue that he should pass despite his failing grade.

For better or worse, the court agreed.

Being a licensed attorney is a requirement for serving as Attorney General, per the state constitution. “I’m the only person in the history of the state – and I’m very proud of this – who was admitted to practice law by the Supreme Court,” Thompson told me.

Congressman Kevin Cramer also joined for his weekly open phones segment and discussed the budget battle taking place in Washington D.C. Cramer says he expects Congress will be able to avoid a government shutdown.

Here’s the full audio of today’s show. You can get the audio delivered to your devices daily by subscribing to the podcast.

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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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