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Letter: Lawsuit to shed light on impact of coal-company contributions

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Something is wrong when we have elected officials accepting money from companies they are supposed to be regulating.

Two out of three of our public service commissioners -- Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer -- are in violation of federal law, according to a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and Dakota Resource Council.

The claim is they accepted contributions from an out-of-state coal company's owner and representatives.

Worse yet, this company, South Heart Coal LLC, is proposing a coal plant right next to our state's No. 1 tourist attraction, Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Money talks, and with a combined $16,600 donated to Cramer and Kalk, you can bet this had a negative impact on their ability to judge just which interests they are serving. The lawsuit will shed some much-needed light on the legality of these practices.

Decisions must be made by officials who are accountable to the public whom they are elected to represent; otherwise, we have a severe threat to democracy in North Dakota.

The problem stems from the fact that North Dakota has no ethics board overseeing public service commissioners, unlike the other 49 states.

In fact, North Dakota received an "F" rating by the state integrity investigation of the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity.

David Rydell, Bismarck

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