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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., arrives for the state Democratic party convention in Grand Forks, N.D., on March 17, 2018. (AP/James MacPherson) Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., arrives for the state Democratic party convention in Grand Forks, N.D., on March 17, 2018. (AP/James MacPherson)

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., arrives for the state Democratic party convention in Grand Forks, N.D., on March 17, 2018. (AP/James MacPherson)

Manuela Tobias
By Manuela Tobias June 4, 2018

Kevin Cramer distorts Heidi Heitkamp's record on banking regulations

North Dakota’s candidates for U.S. Senate are sparring over a new banking law they both co-sponsored that rolls back parts of Dodd-Frank, a signature banking regulatory law signed by former President Barack Obama.

North Dakota Democrats bragged on Twitter that during the bill’s signing Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, got a shoutout from President Donald Trump while Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, lurked in the background. Cramer shot back that Heitkamp only discovered an interest in relieving regulations for banks after Cramer applied pressure.

"We’ve sent over 40 of these types of bills to the Senate she’s never been interested in, until all of a sudden I become a candidate for the Senate and put pressure," Cramer told conservative radio host Rob Port. "All of a sudden she’s for a little bit of regulatory relief, and when I say little, I mean very little regulatory relief for the banking industry."

We were curious: Did Heitkamp’s interest in regulatory relief flower overnight? It’s something other Democrats have criticized her for, so we wondered if it was an election-year stance.

A review of the evidence shows that Heitkamp has been working on banking issues since she was elected in 2012. She joined the Senate Banking Committee in 2013.

Heitkamp cosponsored the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the law in question, on Nov. 16, 2017. Cramer announced his candidacy on Feb. 16, 2018.

Heitkamp’s office said she has been working on the current law since 2013. She has also held over two dozen Senate Banking Committee hearings since 2015 on financial regulatory reform and over 30 discussions with top financial regulators.

Heitkamp cosponsored a bill that was folded into law in 2015 to eliminate annual privacy notifications from banks, which cut red tape for community banks and credit unions.

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In 2014, Heitkamp also pressed for Obama to take into account community banks when naming a Federal Reserve governor.

"During the entirety of (her tenure), she has often expressed a desire for regulatory relief for community banks and credit unions," said Rob Blackwell, editor of American Banker. "The idea that she’s a johnny-come-lately to regulatory reform just doesn’t hold water."

Blackwell pointed us to a 2013 profile of Heitkamp that appeared in American Banker:

"The North Dakota Democrat has emerged as a key player on the Banking Committee, helping to work on a bipartisan housing finance reform bill and championing legislation to provide relief to small banks," the profile reads. "In doing so, she has impressed bankers in her home state and her fellow legislators with her commitment to financial issues and willingness to work across the political aisle."

Cramer’s campaign argued that Heitkamp did not support Cramer’s own House bills that aimed to curb more regulation. But the bills Cramer provided as evidence were more extreme and unlikely to garner Democratic support, Blackwell said.

Our ruling

Cramer said Heitkamp has "never been interested in" regulatory relief for banks "until all of a sudden I become a candidate for the Senate and put pressure on."

Heitkamp has been an advocate of regulatory relief for small banks since she ran for the Senate in 2012. Cramer announced his Senate bid in February. Heitkamp’s lack of support for the regulatory relief that Cramer supports does not mean she is disinterested in regulatory relief.

We rate this statement False.

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Says Heidi Heitkamp has "never been interested in" regulatory relief "until all of a sudden I become a candidate for the Senate and put pressure on."
In an interview
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Our Sources

WDAY.com, 970 WDAY On Demand: The Rob (re)Report 5/30/18, May 30, 2018

Twitter, ND Dem-NPL, May 24, 2018

Interview with Tim Rasmussen, Cramer campaign spokesman, June 1, 2018

Interview with Julia Krieger, Heitkamp campaign spokeswoman, June 1, 2018

Interview with Abbie McDonough, Heitkamp spokeswoman, June 1, 2018

Interview with Rob Blackwell, American Banker editor-in-chief, June 1, 2018

Heitkamp.Senate.gov, Fed nominee letter, April 10, 2014

Facebook, Cramer for US Senate, Feb. 16, 2018

Congress.gov, S.2155 - Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act

Politico, House sends major bank bill to Trump, capping years of effort, May 22, 2018

Congress.gov, S.423 - Privacy Notice Modernization Act of 2015

Congress.gov, H.R.22 - FAST Act

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Kevin Cramer distorts Heidi Heitkamp's record on banking regulations

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