Pomeroy shuns Huber's pleas
Duane Huber traveled in important circles. Last summer, the millionaire crop insurance agent and farmer hoped his connections could get him out of the biggest jam of his life. While government agents investigated him for massive farm fraud, Huber...
Duane Huber traveled in important circles.
Last summer, the millionaire crop insurance agent and farmer hoped his connections could get him out of the biggest jam of his life.
While government agents investigated him for massive farm fraud, Huber called North Dakota's congressional delegation. His wife, Renee, also sent them letters, asking for help.
But Huber said his pleas for help went unanswered -- even from Earl Pomeroy, the Democratic congressman he advised on crop insurance issues and supported in political campaigns.
"When I called Earl's office, he wouldn't return my call," Huber said Tuesday. "We had called to both senators, too, and they had people call back that said, 'We don't want to get involved in this.'"
Pomeroy and Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said they don't meddle in criminal investigations.
A spokeswoman for North Dakota's other Democratic senator, Byron Dorgan, said he, too, refused to get involved in Huber's case.
Pomeroy said it would have been inappropriate for them to get involved in the criminal investigation.
"If there is a criminal matter, that's not a congressional issue," he said.
"We just don't get involved."
In the 1990s, Pomeroy was serving on the House Agriculture Committee when Congress embarked on two crop insurance reforms.
He said he reached out to many people knowledgeable about crop insurance coverage in North Dakota. One of those people, Pomeroy said, was Duane Huber.
After all, Huber was the largest seller of crop insurance for the North Dakota Farmers Union.
"He had a lot of clients," Pomeroy said. "He obviously knew the program."
Yet, while Pomeroy solicited Huber's expertise to improve farmers' crop insurance coverage, Huber was stealing money that should have gone to farmers in need.
"He was abusing the very programs he was giving me advice on," Pomeroy said. "I don't mean advice, but giving me his thoughts on."
Huber said he's known Pomeroy for many years and stayed in contact with him regarding crop insurance issues.
"He would send me things and said, 'Look these over and give me a call back with your recommendations,'" Huber said.
But the phone calls and correspondence stopped as word spread of the farm fraud investigation, Huber said.
Since then, Pomeroy has distanced himself from Huber.
"I'm sure that is what he's trying to do," Huber said.
"He doesn't want to get involved in it -- that he has had anything to do with me -- but that is his choice."
Since 1992, Huber and his wife, Renee, have donated $4,900 to Pomeroy's election campaigns. They haven't donated to any other candidates, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.com.
"I never gave Earl Pomeroy any money at all for anything I wanted to benefit from," Huber said. "I gave him money because I figured he was helping farmers to have a good farm program, and also to better the crop insurance program."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526