Last week we published an article suggesting that an uninvestigated situation regarding Burleigh County sheriff candidate, Major Kelly Leben, could upset that race. If you haven’t already, you can read the details here. In addition, KFYR-TV aired coverage of the story in the aftermath of ours.
In a nutshell, just over four years ago, Leben put his 14-year-old nephew, Brant Thomson, in a headlock at a family birthday party. Though he was repeatedly told to stop and that the young man couldn’t breathe, Thomson’s father ultimately had to push Leben off of him. The result was injuries, a trip to the ER, and a police report. But in the end the parents dropped the issue, didn’t pursue charges, and Leben paid the medical bills.
The situation has left some – including Leben himself – claiming it was an accident as a result of horseplay. Others view it as a case of domestic violence. And at its worst, some classify it as an assault.
Now, over four years later, Thomson is 18-years-old and in a recent letter to the North Dakota Post Board he expressed his feelings that “no justice was served” and that “no one stood to protect [him] as a child”. Calling on the Post Board to conduct an internal investigation, Thomson says he is prepared to answer their questions.
At their meeting last Wednesday, August 15th, the Post Board went into Executive Session to consider how to proceed with the allegations against Leben. Two sources have told me that Brant Thomson didn’t attend their regular meeting as he had planned. Allegedly, the backlash towards him and his family for speaking out was severe enough that he didn’t feel comfortable going.
As a result of their Executive Session, the Post Board made the decision to review Leben’s conduct at their next regularly planned meeting— on December 6, 2018 in Bismarck. Naturally, any other date would require a special meeting. But according to their website, it appears they’ve had no problem calling those at other times throughout the year. So, why wait now?
As you can see, the Post Board’s next meeting falls exactly a month after the general election. So, not only does this further postpone the hearing that Brant Thomson is looking for, but it also drags out the process for Kelly Leben as well. I’d suggest that all parties involved deserve a more expedited resolution than this.
The timing simply looks bad. It’s almost as if the Post Board decided to just let Leben’s campaign for sheriff play out as a means of putting their proverbial fingers to the wind in order to see where voters stand on the issue.
But having said that, let’s consider this scenario… Imagine if Leben won the race to become Burleigh County Sheriff and the Post Board chose some sort of disciplinary action towards him after the fact. That’s certainly not ideal.
It seems to me that such a scenario could be avoided. Both Leben and Thomson could have some finality in their lives regarding this issue – at least as far as the Post Board investigation goes – if the Post Board would simply expedite the process. Not only do I think that would be more fair to Leben and Thomson, but to the voters of Burleigh County as well.
Dragging their feet shouldn’t have been an option for the members of the North Dakota Post Board.