Potter accuses Hoeven of conflict of interest, calls for change in N.D. law
North Dakota Republican Gov. John Hoeven has earned at least $2.3 million since 2009 from a partial ownership in a Twin Cities company that provides services to a North Dakota state facility - a relationship his Senate challenger calls a "direct ...
North Dakota Republican Gov. John Hoeven has earned at least $2.3 million since 2009 from a partial ownership in a Twin Cities company that provides services to a North Dakota state facility - a relationship his Senate challenger calls a "direct conflict of interest" that ought to be prohibited by state law.
Democratic-NPL Senate candidate Tracy Potter says Hoeven's business interests - and those of Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple - illustrate why North Dakota law should prevent state officials from holding interests in private businesses. Under state law, no such restriction exists.
Hoeven's disclosure report filed with the U.S. Senate shows the GOP candidate earned about $1.91 million in 2009 and $450,000 in the first four months of 2010 from his partial ownership in Northwest Respiratory Services LLC.
The North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon confirmed Wednesday that the company has provided oxygen supplies for at least seven years under a contract.
The agreement amounted to less than $12,000 last year, Hoeven's Senate campaign said.
Hoeven's stake in the company dates back to June 1999, the disclosure report states.
"I'm not alleging that John Hoeven has done anything wrong," Potter said Wednesday in Fargo. "There is no wrongdoing in this. That is what's wrong - that there is no law, that there are no rules regarding this."
Potter cited Dalrymple as another example because he was the paid chairman of Dakota Growers Pasta Co. before it was sold earlier this year.
Hoeven said the business interests detailed in the disclosure report and highlighted Wednesday by Potter aren't news. He said he plans to maintain those interests if elected to the U.S. Senate this year.
"That information has been out there for a decade," Hoeven said, adding that he's reported it annually since his first gubernatorial bid in 2000.
Hoeven said Potter was "going negative" and said that he doesn't see any conflict of interest in his business holdings.
"We want to encourage people to run for office, that's why we have disclosure laws," Hoeven said. "I support them, and I'm always going to."
Don Larson, Hoeven's campaign manager, emphasized that Hoeven has no involvement in either the daily operations of Northwest Respiratory Services or the bidding process for the state Veterans Home contract.
Hoeven also sits on boards for his family-owned Minot, N.D., bank First Western Bank & Trust and its subsidiaries - positions that paid him $19,200 between 2009 and early 2010.
Potter said incoming senators should rid themselves of conflicts of interest, especially when it comes to personal stakes in private business.
"You should place your holdings in a blind trust so that the judgments you make in the United States Senate are not clouded by the potential for individual personal gain," Potter said.
While Potter highlighted Hoeven's disclosure report Wednesday, he did not have a copy of his own available. But he said: "I don't have anything that I can conceive of that is a potential conflict."
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead has requested a copy of Potter's disclosure report from the secretary of the U.S. Senate.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.