Bulk of North Dakota GOP delegate fees paid by Sen. Tom Campbell

Published: Apr. 4, 2018 at 1:20 PM CDT
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Fifty-six delegates to North Dakota's Republican state convention have reimbursed the party for registration fees paid on their behalf by U.S. House candidates, with state Sen. Tom Campbell accounting for almost all those, the party said Tuesday.

The payments are legal by party rules, but Campbell's payments prompted criticism last month that he was trying to buy favor in an endorsement battle for the House seat with state Sen. Kelly Armstrong.

Exactly how many delegates Campbell paid for wasn't made public at the time, making Tuesday's rundown the first accounting. Fifty-two of the delegates who repaid fees had those fees originally paid by Campbell, according to Dawson Schefter, the state party's regional field director.

Ten more delegates who got money from Campbell's campaign did not reimburse the party.

Armstrong, who had joined in the criticism of Campbell, paid for four delegates who have now paid their own fees - his parents and his brother and sister-in-law, Schefter said.

The repayments came after GOP Chairman Rick Berg notified delegates in a letter last week that their names would not be made public if they reimbursed the party by 5 p.m. Tuesday. The AP obtained a copy of the letter.

Campbell, a wealthy potato farmer, said in an interview Tuesday that he "honestly" didn't know how many delegate fees that he or his campaign funded. He called the issue "overplayed" by the media.

North Dakota's lone House seat is open this election as GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer runs for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Campbell was the GOP's only Senate candidate for months before Cramer's entry pushed him into the House race.

Registration fees for the convention are $90 per person, or $45 for those under 30 years old. The three-day convention that begins Friday in Grand Forks is expected to draw more than 1,500 delegates.

Schefter said the repayments would be returned to the campaign from where they came.

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