Tracker Pixel for Entry

Robocall scam prompts misconduct allegation against AG

by C.S. Hagen | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | October 12th, 2018

Wayne Stenehjem - photograph by C.S. Hagen

GRAND FORKS – More allegations of corruption and misconduct were levied at North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem Friday afternoon by his challenger, attorney David Thompson.

Due to a conflict of interest from large campaign donations from the Republican General Association – heavily supported by the telecommunication industry – Stenehjem has been willfully ignoring the prosecution of rising flood of robocall scams, Thompson said.

Instead of using the “powerful weapons” provided by the North Dakota Century Code in Chapter 51-28 against robocall scammers, Stenehjem simply signed a letter with 34 other attorneys general, but has done nothing about the situation, Thompson said.

Robocalls have been “ravaging mobile and landline phone customers in record numbers this year,” Thompson said. Many robocalls use a scam called neighbor spoofing, which makes the caller ID resemble a local number.

The North Dakota Century Code states that such scammers may be fined up to $5,000 for every violation, and specifically states that anyone making a telephone solicitation in North Dakota cannot deliberately circumvent a subscriber’s use of caller identification.

“The use of fake caller ID numbers to induce telephone customers to answer their phones under these false pretenses clearly comes within the scope of this statute,” Thompson said.

“There is no good reason why the North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem – who has been in office for almost 18 years – has not used the powerful authority of the N.D.C.C. to protect North Dakota consumers from robocall scammers using ‘neighbor spoofing’ to get people to answer phone calls under false pretenses,” Thompson said.

Tracing robocalls is challenging, but telecommunications companies have the technology to filter out scam robocalls.

“They’re just not doing it,” Thompson said. “The telecommunications companies – the corporations which provide the cell phone and landline service – are the ones whose feet should be held to the fire by Attorney General Stenehjem, and that has not been happening. Wayne Stenehjem has accepted campaign donations from large telecommunications companies, but refuses to do his job and enforce North Dakota laws if they go against corporate interests.”

Stenehjem accepted $10,000 from the Republic Attorneys General Association, or RAGA, according to Open Secrets Center for Responsive Politics. The organization has come under fire for holding lavish $125,000-to-attend getaways for state attorneys general, including one in June at Kiawah Island, South Carolina that CBS News reported Stenehjem attended.

Some of the companies that donated to RAGA in 2016 include: AT&T with $210,712, Verizon with $75,400, and Sprint with $46,645, according to Open Secrets Center for Responsive Politics. Information for 2018 had not yet been released.

During 2016, RAGA invested heavily – a total of $15,363,908 – in unspecified media buys, paid more than $4.5 million out in salaries, and gave more than $4.6 million in contributions to local and state candidates, and to committees.

The letter Stenehjem signed to the Federal Communications Commission states: “The State AGs intend to continue our fight against illegal robocalls and abusive calling practices on the front line – by providing education and outreach, receiving and responding to individual consumer complaints, and taking appropriate enforcement action when possible. We will continue to do everything possible to track down and hold accountable those who engage in illegal calling practices.”

The attorneys general also encouraged the FCC to fully implement a program called STIR/SHAKEN, a framework that service providers can utilize to authenticate legitimate calls and identify spoof calls.

In an October 9 press release, Stenehjem stated robocalls were the North Dakota consumers’ main complaint in 2017, and that the FCC granted phone service providers authority to block illegal spoofed robocalls in November the same year.

“As Attorney General, I take seriously my role to protect consumers from scams of all kinds,” Stenehjem said in the press release. “The FCC should create new rules to let telephone service providers block more types of illegal robocalls.”

“The large telecommunications companies that provide cell phone and landline service here in North Dakota, including Verizon, Sprint, Midcontinent, and others, can and should do much more to greatly minimize the robocall scammer invasion of everyone’s phones,” Thompson said.

“In addition to using existing technology which is available to accomplish this, they have been dragging their feet, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has not been allowing them to do so.

“North Dakotans are being harassed with an ever-growing epidemic of robocalls coming into their cell and landline phones, and they need an Attorney General who will do more than issue press releases, and sign letters to federal agencies written by others asking for help with this growing menace,” Thompson said.

Stenehjem’s office was contacted for comment, but calls were directed to the North Dakota Republican Party communications director Jake Wilkins, who did not return telephone calls.

Stenehjem has also been sued recently due to his involvement in joining North Dakota to a federal lawsuit in Texas alleging the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. He has also been named in previous bribery investigations involving former Governor Jack Dalrymple and oil companies.

Recently in:

FARGO — Climate change has been known and ignored for half a century, but Fargo residents made their voices known Wednesday during a city organized Town Hall event, demanding an end to fossil fuels and for the city to declare a…


​Handmade Holiday

by Alicia Underlee Nelson

What do you buy the person who has everything? Nothing – you make something. From cocktail bitters to chainmaille, succulent gardens to personalized poetry, local experts can help you create something totally unique for everybody…

Wednesday, December 11, 7-8 p.m.Fargo Theatre, 314 N Broadway, FargoTwo short documentary films by the Fargo History Project tell a story of the long road to women’s suffrage in North Dakota and another of the significance of the…

For a number of years, Fargo and Grand Forks have ranked within the top tiers of “Drunkest city in America.” According to we came in fifth this year, and the other four cities were all in Wisconsin…

88,633 Reasons Not To Build A WallOur Great Leader (a title used by North Koreans for Kim) is demanding that Congress include $5 billion in the 2020 federal budget for the border wall which he promised his rabid constituents Mexico…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

I am a voracious reader of anything culinary and a subscriber to several culinary periodicals. I like to hang onto them as I find it hard to throw away these culinary nuggets of information with their adventures to distant lands. …

By Shannon Raeloudmouthrockreviews@gmail.comDropping tomorrow via Listenable Records, On The Rise, is a bluesy rock collection by the Spanish quintet Imperial Rise. With praises across Europe, we would like to add in a bit of…


​Love on the Run

by Greg Carlson

The politics of race in contemporary America inform the text and subtext of “Queen & Slim,” a vivid feature debut from music video director Melina Matsoukas. Described so often in “The Player”-style shorthand as “Bonnie…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comFounded in 1991, Springboard for the Arts’ mission is “to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.”…

By Michael Str!kemichaelstrike.solo@gmail.comComedy, dance, live music, and that classic wordplay and wit only Mel Brooks can deliver. This Friday, November 14th, Concordia College Theater premieres their production of Mel…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

Perched along the banks of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela Rivers and tucked up into the surrounding hills, Pittsburgh’s 90 distinct neighborhoods are connected by more bridges than Venice. Commuters and travelers enjoy…


Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Last Word

Routine fatigue

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comWhat fugue was this which ferried me from Fall into our now and immediately miserable Winter? Where had I been this entire season? How much time had passed and what had I experienced? What had I…