KX News has now reached out to three out-of-state companies that have received the first investments from our Legacy Fund.
As we reported earlier, these companies headquartered in Missouri, South Dakota and Texas received investments under our in-state investment law, House Bill 1425, which passed during the last legislative session.
So far the three out-of-state companies have received a total of $22.5 million, but neither the state nor the firms involved will tell us how much each individual company has received.
During the last Legacy Fund Earnings Committee on March 29, a discussion occurred over whether the first three investments meet the intention of HB 1425.
Newly appointed CIO for the Retirement Investment Office Scott Anderson gave a presentation on the first three investments, but his presentation was paused due to a question from committee member Rep. Craig Headland.
“Mr. Anderson, is it my understanding that these three companies, none of which are actually headquartered in North Dakota, is that correct?” asked Headland.
“50 South has a representative in North Dakota and these companies are planning to invest in properties in North Dakota,” answered Anderson.
However, as of today, all three companies — Lewis & Clark Agrifood, Homegrown Capital and LongWater Opportunities — decline to provide us with more information.
They have not responded to our questions regarding how much money they have received, or if the money will ever be invested in North Dakota.
House Minority Leader Joshua Boschee sits on the Legacy Fund Earnings Committee and we talked with him the day of the meeting.
“Much of the discussion has been about the capital funds that have gotten the initial investment, not even having an office in North Dakota. That’s a concern of committee members, Republican, Democrat, of all ideologies. The intent was we invest in North Dakota companies and we need to do a better job of that,” explained Boschee.
We also reported that the governor’s cousin, Brooks Burgum, is a partner in the Texas firm that received one of the first three investments.
On March 14, we scheduled a Zoom interview with Burgum, but he abruptly canceled in an email saying: “My schedule changed today, and I won’t be able to do a call this afternoon. The easiest way to do this from our end would probably be for you to send a list of questions over, and I can provide written responses.“
In addition to declining to do an on-camera interview, a public relations executive based in New York contacted us on behalf of Burgum and reiterated that Burgum would only respond in written statements and if the questions were given to him in advance.
One week ago, we followed their instructions and submitted two written questions to Burgum via his PR executive regarding what they plan to do with North Dakota taxpayers’ money, but they have not responded.
“I think it’s unfortunate that if people are reaching out to ask them questions that they aren’t responding to calls to answers, you know. What do they have to hide? What don’t they want us to know? And, I think a lot of North Dakotans are asking the same question,” said Boschee.
But, there’s no question how the majority of North Dakotans want their Legacy tax dollars managed.
In a statewide survey conducted by WPA Intelligence, a leading national research firm, taxpayers, by a 10 to 1 margin, want a greater portion of the Legacy Fund invested in North Dakota. And by an 8 to 1 margin, they want North Dakota advisors to decide how to invest the money – not out-of-state or Wall Street consultants.
“It’s very clear that North Dakotans want to make sure that Legacy Fund investments are taken care of here in North Dakota by North Dakotans,” said Boschee.
We reported early in our investigation into the Legacy Fund that the State Investment Board takes the position that the public does not have a right to know information it deems “confidential financial information,” even when it involves expenditures of our own tax dollars.