Petition for grand jury investigation filed

WILLISTON, N.D. – A petition to initiate a grand jury investigation of Gov. Jack Dalrymple is now filed in Dunn County District Court and it has been assigned to a judge.

The petition was filed and assigned Friday to Southwest Judicial District Judge William Herauf, but no hearing date has been set.

The petition, signed by 173 Dunn County residents, seeks to convene a grand jury to determine if there is probable cause for Dalrymple to be prosecuted for bribery related to campaign contributions from the oil industry.

Dalrymple’s campaign says the allegations that the contributions are related to a decision he made as chairman of the North Dakota Industrial Commission are baseless and calls the effort politically motivated.

The petition effort was initiated by Paul Sorum, independent candidate for governor. Ellen Chaffee, lieutenant governor candidate on Democratic challenger Ryan Taylor’s ticket, is tied to a report that makes the bribery allegations.

David Thompson, the Grand Forks attorney who drafted the petition, does not believe the statute that allows citizens to initiate a grand jury has been used in North Dakota since 1929.

The statute calls for a judge to “promptly summon and convene the grand jury.”
Judge Herauf was appointed by former Gov. John Hoeven in 2006 and elected in 2008. Dalrymple was Hoeven’s lieutenant governor.

Thompson, a Democrat who plans to represent the petitioners, said he hopes Herauf will hold a conference with him and Dunn County State’s Attorney Ross Sundeen to discuss how they should move forward procedurally.

“We’re all writing on a blank slate here,” Thompson said.

The petition was delivered Wednesday but not filed until Friday. Sundeen did not return calls seeking comment. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said this week that Sundeen had technical questions to resolve about the old statute before the document was filed.

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