The issue of a possible misrepresentation in a press release last week from Democratic-NPL Party Chairman Mark Schneider has led to several reactions from bloggers, editorial writers and press secretaries.
It started Tuesday, when I wrote an article about Schneider’s press release that claimed a defeated 2003 state House bill would have helped Gilby, N.D., bank teller Edith Johnson be compensated for medical costs. She was diagnosed with PTSD after an armed robbery at the bank last June, and was seeking compensation for less than $1,000 in medical bills but was denied by the state’s WSI.
Schneider said HB 1317 "would have helped Edith Johnson." But I pointed out in the article (which was in Wednesday’s Herald) that HB 1317 only would have allowed compensation for mental injuries for emergency service providers, like police officers and firefighters. So it wouldn’t have applied to a bank teller, a fact Schneider agreed with when I spoke to him Tuesday.
Wednesday afternoon, the North Dakota Republican Party fired back as Executive Director Adam Jones responded to the possible misrepresentation in Schneider’s press release – which was holding U.S. House candidate Rick Berg responsible for leading the push to defeat that bill, and said Berg’s successful efforts to defeat the bill caused Johnson’s denial as she tried to get compensation. The headline of Jones’ press release called Schneider’s statement "twisting facts to falsely smear Berg" and said it was a "baseless attack."
BISMARCK – After four days of telling North Dakotans that Rick Berg was somehow responsible for a denied workman’s compensation claim, North Dakota Democrat NPL Chairman Mark Schneider admitted yesterday that his charge was false.
The Grand Forks Herald reported yesterday that, contradictory to Schneider’s accusation, the failed legislation cited in his press release had nothing to do with the denied worker’s compensation claim. When asked if his accusation was dishonest, Schneider replied that his release was "inartifully drafted."
"If the Democrat Party is already misrepresenting the facts while doing Congressman Pomeroy’s dirty work what can we expect in from them in October?" asked State GOP Executive Director Adam Jones. "False attacks are what Washington politicians do when they can’t run on their own record. That is not how we do things here in North Dakota and Congressman Pomeroy should apologize and explain why his Chairman was falsely smearing Rick Berg."
This is the third recent controversy Pomeroy has found himself in. In June Pomeroy came under investigation for his relationship with Washington lobbyists and contributions to his campaign prior to an amendment being pulled from the financial overhaul vote. To date Pomeroy has yet to offer North Dakotans an explanation for why he is being investigated.
Last week when charges were brought against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) by the House Office of Congressional Ethics that had investigated allegations of multiple ethics violations, Pomeroy came under fire again for not returning or donating to a worthy charity $30,000 in donations from Rangel.
"While we are on the topic of doing things the North Dakota way, Pomeroy remains silent on whether he will return his contributions from Charlie Rangel. North Dakotans know that money is tainted and Congressman Pomeroy should do the right thing," Jones added.
Over the course of the past year, other House Democrats and candidates have returned or donated to charity over $560,000 in contributions given to them by Rangel.
Conservative N.D. blogger Rob Port, who runs SayAnythingBlog.com, wrote about the issue Wednesday evening. Here’s part of the article he wrote discussing Schneider’s comments:
And what’s actually pretty funny about this situation is that the Democrat responsible for the lying, state party chairman Mark Schneider, is an injury lawyer who was at one time pulling down at least half a million a year representing injured workers.
He should have known better, and probably did, but went ahead and tried to smear Berg anyway counting on our not-exactly-forceful state media to let the matter go. But, for once, a North Dakota reporter didn’t just reprint the press release...
The Democrats have lost Dorgan. They’re apparently going all-in to protect Pomeroy, and no tactic is too slimy.
And Thursday morning, National Republican Congressional Committee regional press secretary Tom Erickson sent out an e-mail to reporters and media figures telling them to read a Herald editorial that was in Thursday’s paper. The Herald’s Tom Dennis wrote about Schneider’s comments:
A little less righteousness plus a little more humility.
One of these days, a North Dakota political party should try that formula. It could start by issuing a press release with — stop the presses! — an actual nod of respect toward a member of the other party.
Failing that, scrupulous honesty would do. But even that may be asking too much, judging by the grossly and possibly deliberately misleading press release issued recently by the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party.
Kudos to Herald staff writer Ryan Johnson for catching the misrepresentation:
The press release scolded state representative and Republican congressional candidate Rick Berg, urging him to “fix (the) mess he made” for a Gilby worker.
There’s just one problem, Johnson pointed out: The 2003 bill in question wouldn’t have helped the worker at all. The worker is a bank teller who wants medical compensation for her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. The 2003 bill wouldn’t have covered her because it made only police officers, firefighters and other emergency service providers eligible to be compensated for “a mental injury arising from a mental stimulus,” as the bill put it.
So why did Mark Schneider, chairman of the Democratic-NPL Party and — as blogger Rob Port pointed out at his sayanythingblog.com — a personal injury lawyer who has represented injured workers mislead in his press release about Berg?
“Inartfully drafted, yeah,” Schneider told Johnson about the press release.
“That’s on me if that led to some confusion. But dishonest, there was certainly no intention of that.”
That would be more credible if the press release didn’t make such blatantly inaccurate claims, stating “that fateful vote (against the 2003 bill) is now having a real impact on Edith Johnson” — no, it’s not — and “it’s because of his (Berg’s) actions that she is being denied coverage for a clearly legitimate claim” — except that t it isn’t.
It also would help Schneider’s case if he or the party corrected his drafting once its “inartfulness” was pointed out. But the quotes above were taken from the press release as it appeared Wednesday evening on the Democratic-NPL party’s Web site, a full day after Schneider learned of the release’s misrepresentation.
As recently as this week, North Dakota Democrats decried a show of raw partisanship by the state Republican Party. Clearly, the GOP should behave with more statesmanship, integrity and self-restraint, the complaints suggested.
Good advice, that — for the adviser as well as the advisee.