Port: the Republican senator, accused of theft, does not want to be associated with the Bastiat Caucus
Heitkamp called my editor about this column, complaining that I associated him with secrecy Bastiat caucus Trump-aligned Republican lawmakers. Heitkamp told my editor that he did not want to be associated with the Bastiat Caucus because he is not a member and no one wants to vote for them.
I updated my column to reflect Heitkamp’s preference not to be associated with the Bastiat Caucus, although I did have internal emails sent to Caucus members during the legislative session earlier this year that include Heitkamp’s name. For a time at least, the Bastiats clearly regarded him as a member.
I was thinking of Senator Heitkamp’s decision to distance himself from the Bastiats as I tried unsuccessfully to reach him about a theft charge against him in Bottineau County (he also told my editor that ‘he immediately ignored my calls when I dialed him).
According to the subpoena and complaint, Heitkamp has been charged with misdemeanor theft and is due in district court at 10 a.m. on November 2.
Heitkamp again refuses to take my calls, but he told the Associated Press that he is innocent of the charges against him and believes they relate to a recent visit he made to an ex-girlfriend’s home in Bottineau to retrieve what he claims to be his personal items.
Bottineau County Attorney Seymour Jordan was not immediately available for comment.
Senator Heitkamp is, of course, innocent until proven guilty of the theft charges against him.
What interests me, in the here and now, is how this lawmaker, who was clearly involved to some extent with the Bastiat Caucus earlier this year, no longer wants to be involved in this group.
It is important.
The Bastiats, although reluctant to release the names of their members, have in the past claimed to be bigger than the Democratic-NPL caucus in the legislature. They posed problems for the traditional members of NDGOP. The militants aligned with Bastiat made a so largely unsuccessful, effort to assume leadership positions in local NDGOP district organizations this spring. They pushed for censure resolutions for NDGOP lawmakers. They support recall campaigns for Representative Dwight Kiefert (R-Valley City) and Governor Doug Burgum, as good as a statewide petition for term limits.
State party officials are so worried about the possibility of Bastiat activists booing statewide elected Republicans like Burgum that they might not even hold an approval agreement in the next election cycle.
The perception of the Bastiats by many mainstream Republicans in the state is that they pose a threat to the stability of the GOP’s long-standing leadership in North Dakota.
Representative Rick Becker, Republican of Bismarck and founder of the Bastiat Caucus, confessed in a recent tirade against your humble correspondent that his movement narrows.
Now we have confirmation of this trend as Senator Heitkamp, who is currently in turbulent waters, says he does not want to be associated with the Bastiats.
We live in an age where social media and other tools allow any ardent political movement to overtake its weight in the public consciousness. We often end up talking about people or topics that aren’t necessarily the most important, but maybe just the most inflammatory on Facebook.
Even given that, it looked like the Bastiats were on the verge of upsetting NDGOP and the North Dakota politics it dominates.
Now it looks like they are reaching their climax.
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Rob Port, Founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Contact him on Twitter at @robport or by email at [email protected]