Political ad filmed in ND veterans cemetery violates rules, officials say


By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

POLITICIZING VETERANS: Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, is running a campaign ad filmed in a veterans cemetary that North Dakota National Guard officials say violates their policies.

MANDAN, N.D. — A television ad by Rep. Kevin Cramer’s campaign depicts the candidate laying a wreath in the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan. But state officials in charge of the cemetery say filming political ads there is against the rules.

“The answer is no, they cannot do it,” August Honeyman at the North Dakota National Guard told Watchdog when asked whether filming a political television ad in the cemetery is permissible.

Reached for comment via email, Cramer said he’s pulling the ad, but he didn’t offer additional details.

Honeyman said the Cramer campaign never contacted their office about filming the ad. “We never got a call asking permission,” he said, adding that National Guard officials are working to pull the advertisement.

The ad shows Cramer, a Republican, standing in the cemetery laying a wreath on one of the graves. It touts Cramer’s involvement in the Honor Flights program, which transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to see their war memorials, as well as his opposition to cuts in federal benefits for veterans.

The Legislature created the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in 1989, and it opened in 1992. The North Dakota National Guard operates it.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs prohibits political activities in veterans cemeteries, including the filming of political ads. Though North Dakota’s cemetery is managed by the state, it adheres to federal guidelines.

Cramer’s opponent, Democrat state Sen. George Sinner of Fargo, has already criticized the incumbent for his stance on veterans issues. In a TV ad released Sept. 29, Sinner accuses Cramer of voting to cut $6 billion from veteran retirement benefits.

The Sinner campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.