Many North Dakota GOP delegates repaying fees

BISMARCK, N.D. - "Dozens and dozens" of North Dakota Republican delegates have reimbursed the party for registration fees paid for them to attend this weekend's state convention, the party chairman said Tuesday.

The chairman, former Rep Rick Berg, told The Associated Press that the reimbursements came after he notified delegates in a letter last week that their names would not be made public if they reimbursed the party.

The AP obtained a copy of the letter.

House candidate Tom Campbell told AP last month that he paid registration fees for some delegates, but would not say how many. Party rules permit candidates to cover fees, but they must be disclosed.

Campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf would not say how many delegates had their fees paid by Campbell, a state senator from Grafton.

"At the end of the day, there will be about 10 people, most of which are college students," he said.

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

Kelly Armstrong, Campbell's main Republican rival for House endorsement, said last month and again Tuesday that the only delegates he paid fees for were his parents.

Armstrong, a lawyer and state senator from Dickinson, and some GOP activists have criticized Campbell for bankrolling some delegate fees, saying it's tantamount to vote-buying in an attempt to get delegates' endorsement. North Dakota's lone House seat is open this election as GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer runs for U.S. Senate.

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.

Delegates and campaigns had until Tuesday at 5 p.m. to reimburse the party or their names would be made public, Berg's letter said.

Dawson Schefter, the state party's regional field director, said the repayments would be returned to the campaign from where they came.

Berg would not disclose the exact number of delegates who had repaid the party. He also would not name the candidate who paid the fees.

"Someone could reasonably infer" it was Campbell, he said.


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