McFeely: Time for Stenehjem, Burgum to renounce Trump

FARGO-I would like to ask Wayne Stenehjem one more question before next week's Republican governor primary vote.Attorney General Stenehjem, if a North Dakota citizen made a complaint to your office's Consumer Protection Division about Trump Unive...

Mike McFeely, Oct. 17, 2015Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Mike McFeely, Oct. 17, 2015Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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FARGO-I would like to ask Wayne Stenehjem one more question before next week's Republican governor primary vote.

Attorney General Stenehjem, if a North Dakota citizen made a complaint to your office's Consumer Protection Division about Trump University, would you tell your staff to pursue it? And if the evidence was there to support it, would you file a lawsuit against Trump University?

Sorry, that's two questions.

Let's make it three:

If you decided a lawsuit was warranted, would you still support Trump as your party's presidential nominee?


Mr. Stenehjem, as a lawyer, do you think it is appropriate for Trump to question a judge's objectivity based on the judge's ethnicity?

We're up to four questions, aren't we?

I have a lot of questions about endorsing Trump. All of them hypothetical, of course, which means they won't be answered.

I could ask questions of Stenehjem's opponent, Doug Burgum, too.

Mr. Burgum, as a successful businessman, do you support the business practices alleged to have occurred at Trump University? Do you see those practices as ethical and acceptable?

And do you think it appropriate for the presumptive Republican nominee to claim bias against him by a judge Trump inaccurately referred to as "Mexican"?

These are not necessarily original questions, but they are pertinent given what's come to light since Stenehjem and Burgum endorsed Trump in the presidential race against Hillary Clinton.

What, exactly, do Stenehjem and Burgum endorse about Trump?


Whoops. Is that five questions? Or is it six or seven? I've lost track.

I know, I know. They support Trump because he will represent the Republican Party on the November ballot and they say it's important for Republicans to unite behind their nominee. They support Trump because they say Clinton will be disastrous for North Dakota. They support Trump because they don't want Clinton to make appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Burgum specifically pointed out Trump's business acumen as a reason for endorsement.

Is that so? Trump faces three lawsuits, one brought by the attorney general of New York, that allege Trump University was nothing more than a scam mired in fraud and deception. Complaints also went to attorneys general in Florida, Texas and Illinois.

A university it certainly was not. Instead, Trump's program was a high-pressure sales pitch meant to separate gullible, sometimes desperate people from their money in the form of get-rich-quick seminars. For "investments" of $1,500, $10,000 or $35,000, Trump University promised to teach students all the secrets of real estate so they would "get rich." Just like its namesake, who never bothered to actually meet any of his "students," despite literature promising otherwise.

In truth, court documents reveal, the goal of the seminars was to use high-pressure sales tactics on the attendees so they would buy more increasingly expensive courses. Trump's employees were encouraged to use whatever tactics necessary to make the biggest sale, including suggesting to potential pigeons that they should max out their credit cards.

There was a playbook telling Trump University employees to look for certain body language in potential "students." If anybody exhibited expressions or movements indicating positive reaction to the pitch, Trump's people were told to click into hyper-drive and "sell, sell, sell!" It was dirty, greasy, late-night-infomercial stuff.

The lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general says Trump University hauled in revenues of more than $40 million. The New York attorney general also says it was "straight up fraud."


Is this the businessman Burgum is endorsing?

Is this the human being the attorney general and consumer protection chief of North Dakota endorses?

Trump continues to offend, continues to hurtle off the rails, continues to embarrass the once-great political party that's tried so hard to make its peace with him. He will not stop.

It is time for the two men sparring to be North Dakota's next governor (sorry, Democrat Marvin Nelson) to do the right thing, to lead.

Renounce Trump.

Rescind your support and admit you made a mistake. Others are doing it.

Admit that while you will never support Clinton, you cannot in good conscience back a candidate like Trump. Even if he's a member of your party and allegedly will be better for North Dakota than Hillary. If all the embarrassing, foot-in-the-mouth moments leading up to the latest mess weren't enough, this should be it.

As attorney general and the person charged with looking out for consumers in North Dakota, how can Stenehjem support a scam artist?

As a businessman, how can Burgum endorse somebody with the business ethics of a snake-oil salesman?

North Dakota will be fine when Clinton wins the presidency. Once oil and corn prices bounce back, the state will be the envy of the nation again. Remember, it attained that title under President Obama. Or, as he's known by many North Dakotans, Barack Hussein Obama. It doesn't need Trump to get there.

Stenehjem and Burgum don't need him, either. Show you have a conscience, gentlemen. Renounce Trump.

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