Republican Paul Sorum And Democrat Marvin Nelson To Call For Audit Of North Dakota Oil And Gas Division

A bit of an oddity dropped in my inbox this afternoon announcing a joint press conference between state Rep. Marvin Nelson, the Democratic candidate for governor, and Paul Sorum, who is one of three Republicans running for that same position.

What issue could bring these two candidates together? They want an audit of the Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division.

“There are some reasons which I’ll go into at the press conference,” Sorum told me when I reached him by phone. He went on to cite rumors he’s heard about the supposed destruction of records.

“People have told me that Lynn Helms has ordered the destruction of a lot of records up there. People are worried,” Sorum said.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”There are plenty of reasons other than rumors that we should have it done,” he said. “Especially given not just my experience in the industry but specifically because of the audit of the Department of Trust Lands showing a lot of problems with royalties. As far as I know we haven’t had a third party audit of the oil and gas division ever.”[/mks_pullquote]

But he says those rumors aren’t the only reason he wants an audit.

“There are plenty of reasons other than rumors that we should have it done,” he said. “Especially given not just my experience in the industry but specifically because of the audit of the Department of Trust Lands showing a lot of problems with royalties. As far as I know we haven’t had a third party audit of the oil and gas division ever.”

“I’m not looking forward to this,” Sorum added, “but it needs to be done.”

A recent audit from the State Auditor’s Office showed a host of problems at the Department of Trust Lands which resulted in some heated words at a recent legislative hearing.

But Sorum isn’t exactly the most credible person to be leveling accusations. He previously helped organize a grand jury petition drive to indict Governor Jack Dalrymple for bribery which never gathered more than a couple of hundred signatures and was tossed out of court. He also tried to have the votes for the Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2012 gubernatorial election thrown out so that he could be named governor (he ran as an independent in that cycle).

Now Sorum is accusing one of the state’s most prominent regulators of allegedly destroying documents. Which is serious to the point of being potentially criminal.

Even if there is some substance behind this call for an audit, you have to wonder why Nelson would want to hitch his wagon to Sorum in calling for it, given the latter’s spotty track record.

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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