Tuesday night, we reported Wayne Stenehjem’s attendance to a luxury retreat hosted by RAGA – Republican Attorneys General Association.
The event is considered a gift for A.G.s, but lobbyists and corporate guests pay over $125,000 to attend. $50,000 gets them one-on-one issue briefings with state A.G.s. Some of those include representatives from Koch Industries, big tobacco, payday lenders and the NRA.
CBS News saw nine attorneys there from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, South Carolina and Utah. When asked if they attended, only three would confirm they went: Idaho, South Carolina and North Dakota.
It is not illegal for Attorney General Stenehjem to attend such events, but some are questioning whether or not it is ethical.
KX News reached out for comment regarding his involvement. He issued this statement:
“As attorney general, I am committed to keeping North Dakotans safe, upholding the rule of law, and creating a favorable environment for our job creators to thrive. North Dakota’s prosperity depends on safe communities and a strong economy. That will always be my focus and I’m happy to talk about North Dakota’s success to anyone, anywhere. Attending these events has also been a crucial component of the success we have had in this office. It was at one such event that I put together the coalition to fight the ridiculous Waters of the US rule put forward by the Obama administration. Had we not succeeded in court, our ag producers and energy industry would have been saddled with an unnecessary and onerous regulatory burden. This example is just one of many cases where Republican Attorney Generals have come together to fight government overreach and coordinate law enforcement activities. And we hold these meetings without a single dollar of taxpayer expense.” – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
Stenehjem’s up for election this November. His opponent, Grand Forks Attorney David Thompson sent out a statement following the news.
Saying quote “North Dakota’s Attorney General should be a strong public advocate working on behalf of the people of this state, not vacationing with corporate lobbyists.”
He said events like this present the idea that North Dakota’s justice system is for sale under Stenehjem’s leadership.
We also reached out to the office of Governor Doug Burgum, for which they declined to comment.