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Dalrymple's ethics questioned on campaign contributions

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Democrat candidate for governor Ryan Taylor said in Dickinson Friday that unlike his opponent, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, he would not accept any campaign contributions linked to companies with cases pending before the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

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"North Dakota is different, because our governor is not just governor -- he is also the chairman of the Industrial Commission. I think that changes things because you're not just the garden-variety public official. You're also a regulator who has a vote on very big decisions that could be worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars," Taylor said. "The way I was raised, I think there's right and wrong, and I think accepting those contributions, as a judge, so to speak, on the Industrial Commission is wrong."

The issue came to light after the online release of a report by Grand Forks attorney David C. Thompson and his assistant Erik A. Escarraman entitled, "Political Campaign Money from 'Big Oil,' Governor Jack Dalrymple, and North Dakota's Class C Felony Bribery Statute."

The report is critical of Dalrymple's acceptance of campaign contributions from Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, during the same time late last year as the company had a pending case with the Industrial Commission.

Page 2 of the heavily-footnoted report states, "A mere eight days after Harold Hamm gave this $20,000 contribution to Gov. Dalrymple's election campaign -- Dalrymple sat down as the chairman of the three-member Industrial Commission and approved a massive 30,883.94-acre oil and natural gas exploration and production 'mega unit' ... covering a portion of the Bakken Oil Pool in which Hamm's company Continental Resources Inc. held oil and gas exploration and development leases."

When reached by phone Friday, Thompson said he is not affiliated with any political campaign.

Amanda Godfread, communications director for Dalrymple's election campaign, said she was aware of the report.

"I've seen it online, but it's never been presented to us," she said.

Asked to respond to Taylor's comments about ethics, Godfread said, "Governor Dalrymple believes in transparency -- that has been extremely evident throughout his campaign and throughout his entire political career," she said. "He's been an extremely ethical person, businessman, politician and I think his record speaks for itself very clearly."

Find a link to the report at www.scribd.com.

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