When we drove past the relic of the old NSP coal-fired power plant near Granite Falls on Friday on our way to a nearby Scientific and Nature Area (SNA), the local Minnesota Public Radio affiliate was airing Merchants Of Doubt' Explores Work Of Climate Change Deniers, a feature about a new documentary.
The aural pun between "doubt" and Speaker Daudt prompted us to ask a friend to adapt a "readymade" graphic for a Bluestem series based on our research into campaign contributions by North Dakota oil and gas industry interests in the 2014 state-level elections in Minnesota.
NOG contributed $25,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee on January 6, 2014; the RSLC gave a total of $325,000 to the Minnesota Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund PAC in 2014 before the November election.
The company also gave $25,000 directly to the Minnesotan Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund PAC on August 15, 2014 (p. 6, year end report). That's at least $25,000 and perhaps as much $50,000 of good Bakken crude flowing into Minnesota politics for independent expenditures.
It's hard not to envision at least some of that oozing into the hands of the venders MJC chair (now House Majority executive director) Ben Golnik hired to craft $58,640 worth of attacks against DFL state representative Melissa Hortman in House District 36B (page 18, year end report).
After all, in the 2013-2014 session when the DFL held the majority in the Minnesota House, the Brooklyn Park Democrat chaired the Energy Policy Committee, helping to shepherd through clean energy policy.
Northern Oil and Gas Inc Chair and CEO Micheal Reger also gave big to the HRCC, the campaign committee for Minnesota House Republicans. Reger dropped $10,000 into the HRCC kitty on October 14, 2014, (p. 48 year end report) after giving the committee $25,000.00 on December 31, 2013 (p. 26 year-end report), or $35,000 for the cycle.
He was also generous in 2014 to individual Republican state representatives and challengers campaigns, as well as Republican Attorney General candidate Scott Newman (all information via the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board's searchable database):
02-05-2014 Gunderson, Heidi Ann House Dist. 42B Committee $1,000.00
02-05-2014 Uglem, Mark W House Dist. 36A Committee $1,000.00
02-07-2014 Johnson, Brian L House Dist. 32A Committee $1,000.00
02-08-2014 Kresha, Ronald House Dist. 9B Committee $1,000.00
02-11-2014 Nelson, Gary House Dist. 17A Committee $1,000.00
02-17-2014 Barrett, Robert (Bob) C House Dist. 32B Committee $1,000.00
02-19-2014 Todd-Harlin, Andrea House Dist. 51A Committee $1,000.00
06-17-2014 Fenton, Kelly A House Dist. 53B Committee $1,000.00
06-20-2014 Daudt, Kurt House Dist. 31A Committee $1,000.00
07-10-2014 Anselmo, Dario Arthur House Dist. 49A Committee $1,000.00
08-13-2014 Newman, Scott Atty. Gen. Committee $2,500.00
10-22-2014 Rutzick, Ryan L House Dist. 44B Committee $1,000.00
02-05-2014 Stensrud, Kirk D House Dist. 48A Committee $1,000.00
02-05-2014 Quam, Duane R House Dist. 25A Committee $1,000.00
02-07-2014 Peterson, Roz House Dist. 56B Committee $1,000.00
02-15-2014 Kiel, Debra (Deb) L House Dist. 1B Committee $1,000.00
02-18-2014 Bowles, Polly Peterson House Dist. 49A Committee $1,000.00
03-15-2014 Petersburg, John House Dist. 24A Committee $1,000.00
02-08-2014 Green, Steve House Dist. 2B Committee $1,000.00
That's $18,000 more total to Minnesota House Republican candidates. Add that to the $35,000 to the HRCC and the $25,000 to the MJC, Reger & Company gave $78,000 to help flip the chamber, and possibly $25,000 more via the RSLC.
Who are these people?
The New York Times Business page for NOG notes:
Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. is an independent energy company. The Company is engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas properties, primarily in the Bakken and Three Forks formations within the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana. The Company's primary focus is oil exploration and production through non-operated working interests in wells drilled and completed in spacing units that include its acreage. The Company primarily engages in oil and natural gas exploration and production by participating on a proportionate basis alongside third-party interests in wells drilled and completed in spacing units that include its acreage.
The latest news releases from the company and other information about its well-being are found on the page.
In 2012, Forbes Magazine placed Michael Reger at Number 13 in its America's 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under list. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported in January 2013 that Twin Cities CEO named one of America's most powerful young leaders:
Forbes ranked the 36-year-old Reger No. 15 on this year's list, down two spots from where he landed on the 2012 ranking.
Reger co-founded Wayzata-based Northern (AMEX: NOG) in 2006 and took over as CEO and chairman of the board in March 2007. He has bachelor's and MBA degrees from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
Northern is an oil and gas exploration company and is a big player in the booming North Dakota oil industry.
With that sort of career buzz, it's not just Bakken oil tanks that are exploding.
Images: Via the AP/Chicago Tribune, the plume of smoke from a burning oil train was seen above the skyline of Galena, IL last week (above); Our logo for this series on the role of North Dakota energy interest money in Minnesota elections and politics (below) Dan Feidt / feidtdesign.com; follow him on twitter @hongpong.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.