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Port: Legislative candidate had insurance license removed because of fraud

"The investigation was proven untrue," said Ryan Eckroth, a state senate candidate in District 35, though in 2012 he signed an agreement to surrender his insurance prodcuers license.

North Dakota state senate candidate Ryan Eckroth
Ryan Eckroth is a candidate for the North Dakota Senate. He's seeking the NDGOP's endorsement in District 35.
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MINOT, N.D. — Ryan Eckroth is seeking the North Dakota Republican Party's endorsement to run for the state Senate in District 35.

If elected, he would replace incumbent Sen. Erin Oban, a Democrat who last year announced her retirement from the Legislature .

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In 2012, Eckroth agreed to a revocation of his insurance producer's license in the face of a cease and desist order from Adam Hamm, North Dakota's insurance commissioner at the time.

The 2011 cease and desist order details a series of incidents in which Eckroth is alleged to have signed insurance customers up for policies they didn't want and accepted commission payments for those policies.

It also alleges that Eckroth debited the business accounts of customers for similarly unwanted policies with Eckroth, again, taking commissions for the fraudulently transacted sales.

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The customers aren't named in the order, which claims that Eckroth had been "overpaid in excess of $88,000 for policies that had never been put in force or that had canceled shortly after being put in force."

Reached for comment, Eckroth dismissed the order.

"It was an investigation. It was a formality," he said.

Eckroth told me there were no criminal or civil actions initiated against him as a result of the fraud alleged by insurance regulators. Because of that, he claims "the investigation was proven untrue." A search of the North Dakota court system's online records database shows no action related to his insurance producer's license.

Yet in February of 2012 Eckroth signed a document agreeing to surrender his license as a result of the cease and desist letter.

The document he signed indicates that he didn't admit to any wrongdoing. But by signing it, Eckroth also waived his right to dispute or appeal the order, present evidence in his defense, and to be represented by legal counsel.

I asked Eckroth why he would sign that document if he felt the accusations of fraud were false.

"Because my name was destroyed through all the news," he said, at which point he declined to make further comment.

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The NDGOP's District 35 committee will hold its endorsing convention on Feb. 17. Local activists will be asked to endorse candidates for the district's legislative seats at that event.

In the Senate race, Eckroth is competing with Sean Cleary who announced his candidacy in late November.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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