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Port: Republican legislative candidate refuses to comment on federal tax lien

Ryan Eckroth, a candidate for the state Senate in District 35, refused to answer questions when reached for comment.

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Ryan Eckroth is a candidate for the North Dakota Senate in District 35.
Campaign Photo
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Minot, N.D. — According to state records, a candidate for the state Senate in District 35 has an active federal tax lien, but when reached for comment he refused to speak about it.

According to public records available online, Ryan Eckroth has an active federal tax lien that was originally filed in 2013.

"A federal tax lien is the government’s legal claim against your property when you neglect or fail to pay a tax debt," the website for the Internal Revenue Service states . According to that site, a lien is initiated after the IRS sends "a bill that explains how much you owe" and the person obliged to pay the taxes "neglects or refuse to fully pay the debt in time."

It's not clear from the filing how much the lien is for.

I called Eckroth to inquire about the lien. He was initially friendly, but after I asked about the lien he became angry. "I've spoken with my lawyer," he told me. "You guys can print the accurate information. I have no other comment."

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Eckroth refused to answer follow-up questions.

The active lien is one of five that have been filed against Eckroth since 2012 according to a search of the State of North Dakota's Central Indexing System on the Secretary of State's website.

He has been released from the other four, the most recent in November of 2021.

A search of the State of North Dakota's online civil and criminal records database also shows that between 2004 and 2015, Eckroth was the defendant in nine civil collections matters and one mortgage foreclosure that resulted in a sheriff's sale.

As I previously reported , in 2012, Eckroth agreed to a revocation of his insurance producer's license in the face of a cease and desist order from Adam Hamm, North Dakota's insurance commissioner at the time.

The 2011 cease and desist order details a series of incidents in which Eckroth is alleged to have signed insurance customers up for policies they didn't want and accepted commission payments for those policies.

Eckroth did not admit to any wrongdoing in the matter but did agree to surrender his license to the insurance commissioner's office.

Eckroth announced his campaign in January and this spring received the endorsement of the District 35 NDGOP committee in a narrow victory over fellow Republican Sean Cleary.

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The primary race between the two is one of several competitive primaries in Republican legislative races across the state, a product of the ideological split of the party in the Trump era.

The incumbent in the race, Democrat Erin Oban, resigned her position to accept an appointment as Rural Development Director for North Dakota by President Joe Biden.

Former lawmaker Tracy Potter was appointed by the District 35 Democratic-NPL committee to serve out the rest of Oban's term, and has been endorsed by the party to run for a new term for that seat.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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