North Dakota Democrats are criticizing Republican Senate candidate Kevin Cramer for reimbursing himself and his wife Kris for 3,000 miles worth of mileage on the campaign trail this year. In a statement last week, the state party attacked Cramer for what they called "implausible" mileage reimbursements. The North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party also created a video game called "Crooked Cramer's Road Trip," which features an animation of Cramer driving in a pickup truck. The claims were made just days after David Thompson, a Democrat running for North Dakota attorney general, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over Cramer's campaign finance reports.
Cramer is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in what is expected to be one of the most competitive races in the nation.
A look at the claim:
NORTH DAKOTA DEMOCRATS: "Implausible mileage reimbursements to Kevin and Kris Cramer: The campaign's reimbursement of $1,152.75 to Rep. Cramer and $531.38 to Kris Cramer for first quarter mileage expenses is highly unusual and almost implausible."
THE FACTS: It's not only plausible, it's true. North Dakota is a big state (69,001 square land miles) and Kevin Cramer is its only U.S. House member. Cramer did drive more than 2,300 miles according to an AP analysis, which mapped the locations to substantiate the mileage and also checked with event organizers and media reports to verify Kevin Cramer's attendance. The mileage reimbursements he and his wife made to themselves were correct.
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In April, Kevin Cramer expensed $1,152.75 to his campaign for mileage reimbursement during the first three months of 2018, according to federal campaign finance reports.
The Cramer campaign provided the AP with a schedule showing Kevin Cramer took seven trips for more than a dozen campaign events from his hometown of Bismarck between January and March. The events included a 210-mile round trip to attend a local Republican convention in Dickinson, North Dakota and a 420-mile car ride for Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Fargo, North Dakota . Most of the events Cramer attended were local Republican Party events.
The Cramer campaign said he uses the standard mileage rate, set by the Internal Revenue Service, of 54.5 cents per mile to determine his reimbursement. That means Kevin Cramer was justified in drawing $1,152.75 from his campaign to cover mileage costs.
Cramer's wife received a $531.38 reimbursement for mileage from the campaign in April. The Cramer campaign also provided the AP an event schedule for Kris Cramer showing she traveled to two events -- one to attend Pence's appearance in Fargo and another to the state GOP convention in Grand Forks -- that required 975 miles worth of driving. At 54.5 cents per mile, Kris Cramer's reimbursement of $531.38 also checks out. The Cramer campaign said Kris Cramer drove to Pence's event separately "due to conflicting schedules."