Last night was the first debate between Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer. Unfortunately, there are only three total debates because Cramer has dodged others and refused to reschedule the debate on Prairie Public. There are a number of things to take away from the back and forth last night in Bismarck. We’ll break those down shortly. One thing that stood out to me is how sensitive Cramer continues to be about his finances. Why?
At two separate instances last night, Cramer was visibly angry about an ad claiming he “raised his own salary by $23,000” while on the Public Service Commission. The first moment was when prompted by the moderator on political advertising. The second was unprompted and appeared to be the one thing on his mind to ask Heitkamp. It is clear the subject is sensitive to him.
It isn’t the first time Cramer has lashed out regarding his finances. During the 2013 government shutdown, Cramer refused to donate his salary. Hoeven and Heitkamp both donated their pay to local charities. When Cramer was pressed about taking his salary he said, “I don’t get into those sort of stunt-y things” and made reference to Congress having “doctors’ spouses” who could afford to donate their pay during the self-inflicted shutdown. The “doctors’ spouses” was a personal shot aimed at Senator Heidi Heitkamp who is married to a doctor.
Cramer has made politics a family business over the years. Over the years, people have been quick to point out the jobs he has held have either been politically appointed or elective and funded either by tax dollars or political contributions. A career politician. Everyone now knows while he has been receiving a taxpayer salary, he has been paying his wife through political donations he has raised from his campaigns. Those are facts that when presented publicly leaves Cramer unglued.
Why does the topic of finances get Cramer so angry? These topics typically come under scrutiny as you ask for the public’s trust. When a career politician gets so emotionally frustrated about the same basic subject over the years, it makes you wonder. Adding to the suspicious nature of it, Cramer has not reported having a bank account on his federal personal financial disclosure dating back to the mid-1990s. Is there something there the public should know?