John Hoeven is the Senator and First Western Bank is the bank.

So, what's the controversy?

Honestly, there probably isn't one ...right John?

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Just because business and government sometimes share the same bed doesn't mean there's any hanky panky going on.  But it's fair to want make sure there isn't.

It's the matter of a proposed $10 million earmark for an intermodal rail facility in Minot. If you want an intermodal refresher, please read my column from October 2020, all about the new facility created in Minot.   In a nutshell, an intermodal facility is a place that deals with shipping containers that use multiple modes of transportation- thusly, they are inter-modal.  Containers go from ship to train to truck etc...People are very optimistic about this new addition to the Magic City.

Heck, Governor Doug Burgum believe this facility could save up to 25% in transportation costs.

They probably thought the same thing about the last intermodal facility that was supposed to perform wonders.  The only wonder was wondering where all the money went!

Now the ND Legislature is considering giving $10 million dollars to keep the current project rolling.  But breaking down where that money is going...goes like this.

Five Minot-area lawmakers sponsored the legislation that seeks to provide $1.8 million for track improvements and $8.2 million that would be funneled to a trio of banks that acquired the property and buildings and equipment through foreclosure.

What trio of banks you ask?   Well when it went into foreclosure, it's assets were held by State Band and Trust of Kenmare, the Bank of North Dakota, and First Western Bank and Trust.  Seems BND would get 49% of the buyout, First Western 33%, leaving the Kenmare bank about 18%.

John Hoeven may have once been the President of the Bank of North Dakota, but he is CURRENTLY part owner of First Western, a bank his dad Jack Hoeven started.  Senator John Hoeven also currently serves on First Western's board of directors.

So is there any hanky panky?  I think not.

In this article Bismarck GOP Rep. Rick Becker seems to see it just a little differently...

Bismarck GOP Rep. Rick Becker, among the most conservative members of the Legislature, has been outspoken in his desire for lawmakers to kill the deal, which he called “corporate welfare and cronyism.”


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