Politifact: Heitkamp Claim About Cramer Raising His Own Salary Isn’t True

A screenshot from a campaign ad run by Senator Heidi Heitkamp's campaign which makes the false claim that Congressman Kevin Cramer, while serving on North Dakota's Public Service Commission, raised his own salary. YouTube

A recent ad put out by Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign argues that her opponent, Congressman Kevin Cramer, has used his political career to enrich himself and his family.

One of the more salacious claims is an attack on Cramer’s wife, Kris Cramer, who has managed the Congressman’s campaigns since his successful 2012 election to the U.S. House (you can read her response to that attack here), but it’s another of the claims in the ad which drew the attention of Politifact.

As you can see, the ad supposes that Cramer raised his own salary by $23,000 per year while elected to the Public Service Commission:

The ad seems completely ignorant as to how budgeting in North Dakota actually works. Cramer couldn’t, by law, raise his own salary. At best he could have requested that a salary increase be included in the PSC’s budget proposal to the Legislature, but as Politifact notes he didn’t even do that much:

Cramer’s salary increased by $25,737 during his tenure on the Public Service Commission. But he didn’t give himself that raise. The governor proposed it, the OMB drafted it, and the legislative assembly voted on its passage. The other 12 elected officials in North Dakota received the same percentage salary bump.

We rate this statement False.

It’s worth noting that the PSC did request salary increases one time during Cramer’s tenure there, but it wasn’t a raise for Cramer or the other commissioners. “The OMB had three of the four budget requests during which Cramer served and got salary hikes on file. Only one asked for equity funds to raise administrative staff salaries,” Politifact reports. “But that does not include the commissioners, according to Jill Kringstad, Accounting Budget Specialist. She could not recall any instances where commissioners’ salary increases were included in budget requests.”

Don’t expect the Heitkamp campaign to stop running this ad, because accountability and honesty aren’t things the Senator is all that concerned with.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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