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Update: Kalk, Cramer say South Heart mine decisions made on facts, not by amount of contributions

Public Service commissioners Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer should recuse themselves from decisions regarding a South Heart coal mine project because of campaign contributions they received, four organizations said in letters hand delivered to the two today.

Though the commissioners had not seen the letters this afternoon, they do not deny the contributions and say they make decisions on information presented to them, not on money.

Mary Hodell of Neighbors United says the conflict comes because they accepted contributions from parties with direct financial interests and therefore can't make unbiased decisions.

Along with Neighbors United, the Dakota Resource Council, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Dacotah Chapter of Sierra Club are named on the letter.

They cite a PSC policy: "A conflict would arise when the commissioner, the employee or agent, any member or his immediate family, his partner or an individual firm or organization which employs or is about employ the commissioner, commission employee, his immediate family member, or partner has a financial or other interest directly and substantially affected by the commission decision."

See Saturday's Dickinson Press for more on the story.