Sen. Holmberg spent more on travel than any North Dakota lawmaker in the past decade – InForum

 Sen. Holmberg spent more on travel than any North Dakota lawmaker in the past decade – InForum


BISMARCK – A North Dakota lawmaker under investigation for exchanging text messages with a jailed child pornography suspect has spent more taxpayer money on travel in the past decade than any other lawmaker in the state, according to state record.

Senator Ray Holmberg, a Republican from Grand Forks, raised $ 125,810 in travel expenses between 2013 and April 15, 2022, according to the North Dakota Legislature spending report obtained by The Forum. Holmberg has continued about 70 out-of-state trips that have included meetings in Canada, Puerto Rico, Europe and throughout the U.S.

North Dakota lawmakers all spent nearly $ 2.1 million on time travel. That equates to about $ 9,200 on average for the 229 legislators who have served in the North Dakota Legislature since 2013.

The Associated Press first reported travel expenses, as Holmberg spent nearly 14 times the average amount his colleagues make. Expense reports prior to 2013 are not available.

On Friday, May 13, Holmberg addressed questions about his travel expenses to his attorney, Mark Friese.

“Those in leadership positions have a lot of obligations outside the state,” Friese told The Forum. “Sen. Holmberg’s approved trip is to fulfill his legislative and leadership obligations.

Holmberg was recently criticized after The Forum reported that he exchanged several text messages in August with Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier, a 34-year-old man in Grand Forks facing federal prosecution in child pornography cases. Prosecutors also allege Morgan-Derosier took the two children from their Twin Cities-area home to his Grand Forks residence with a plan to sexually abuse them.

A federal prosecutor said a 77-year-old man in Grand Forks asked Morgan-Derosier via text message in August to bring Morgan-Derosier’s 19- or 20-year-old girlfriend for a massage, according to court transcript.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would not disclose the name of the 77-year-old man, but Holmberg was that age at the time of the text. Prison records showing Holmberg and Morgan-Derosier texted each other in August while Morgan-Derosier was incarcerated matched the time frame described by the federal prosecutor.

Holmberg acknowledged Morgan-Derosier’s texting but said the conversations were about “different things,” including the patio work Morgan-Derosier did for Holmberg. Holmberg said he was no longer in the texts, saying, “They are no more.”

A police report obtained by The Forum revealed that a Grand Forks police detective and Homeland Security agents investigating Morgan-Derosier searched Holmberg’s home in mid-November and seized several items such as evidence.

There is nothing to suggest that Holmberg’s trip was investigated.

Holmberg’s travel expenses often revolve around legislatures and states in connection with government meetings and conferences. Other trips include meetings for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. He also traveled to Norway for the European Criminal Justice Innovation Project, as well as to Washington, DC, for the commissioning of the USS North Dakota.

First elected in 1976, Holmberg is the longest -serving state senator in the country. He is the chair of the North Dakota Senate appropriations and rules committees. He was also the head of Legislative Management before leaving the post amid news of the text exchange.

Holmberg said he would resign on June 1, after The Forum published on April 15 its investigation in text messages and after news coverage of allegations made on Twitter that Holmberg sexually assaulted a former North Dakota man in 2010 while in Florida.

Holmberg had already announced in March that he would not run again, with his term set to end near the end of this year. He cited health issues, including weak thinking abilities, as his main reason for not running for reelection.





Source link

Related post