Claim: Heidi Heitkamp “allowed staff to fly a taxpayer-funded plane.”
Ad(s): “Pay Raise” (also known as “Hiding 3”)
Sponsor(s): Crossroads GPS
Air Dates: Aug. 15 – present
Total Estimated Spending On This Claim: $5,570
Stations: KVLY, KVRR, KXJB
FactCheck.org’s Summary: “The original ad claimed that Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp “spent taxpayer dollars on private planes” while she was the state’s attorney general. That wasn’t true. The planes were donated by the federal government.
The amended version, which started running Aug. 10, says she “allowed staff to fly a taxpayer-funded plane.” That’s true, as far as it goes. But, of course, the two surplus military aircraft had been paid for by federal taxpayers, not just North Dakotans. One of the two was used for spare parts, and there’s no evidence the staff made personal or improper use of the remaining plane. It was for use in supporting drug enforcement activities […]
The Bismarck Tribune article cited in the Crossroads ad noted that Heitkamp and another official from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation said that “little if no state expenditures will be required because the planes are being provided free of charge and federal grant programs are paying for the costs of insurance, fuel and pilot training.”
The paper also reported that the National Guard had agreed to house and service the plane, and that a staffer from the attorney general’s office would serve as the pilot.