Top Cramer Supporter In Jail For Native American Adoption Scam

“Kevin Cramer has been entangled with Betty Jo Krenz for years — she’s even appeared in a TV ad for him and testified to Congress at his invitation. Cramer needs to come clean about his unsavory connections to Krenz — and apologize to the families she has hurt,” said American Bridge spokesperson Joshua Karp.

High Plains Reader: Woman Charged With Fake Native Children Adoption Crimes Turns Herself In

By C.S. Hagen | August 1st, 2018

  • “The woman charged with crimes related to fake adoption proceedings of Native children turned herself in Wednesday morning and is currently in jail at the Stutsman County Correctional Center.”
  • “Betty Jo Krenz, 47, of Woodworth, was charged with theft of property and the unauthorized use of personal identifying information, according to the jail’s roster.”
  • “Krenz … became a high-profile figure interviewed by the New York Times and prominently featured in a 2014-campaign advertisement approved by current Congressman Kevin Cramer.”
  • “Repeated requests for information related to why Krenz was involved in Cramer’s campaign advertisement have been ignored.”

  • “An investigation began after an Oregon woman, Autym Burke, attempted to adopt a baby she planned to name Ruby through Krenz. The baby, whose real name is Julissa, belonged to her birth mother, Jodie Blackboy of the Spirit Lake Nation. Blackboy said she discovered the scam through Burke’s Facebook post.”
  • “Krenz has a lengthy rap sheet including convictions of forgery, counterfeiting, issuing checks without sufficient funds, and is scheduled to appear in court on the new charges at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in Stutsman County. Her bail was set at $10,000.”

 

BACKGROUND: Cramer’s Connections to Krenz Go Back Years

Krenz Appeared In A Campaign Ad For Cramer

Krenz Appeared In A Campaign Advertisement For Cramer’s 2014 Congressional Campaign. According to the High Plains Reader, “The reported caseworker, Betty Jo Krenz, was included in a 2014-campaign advertisement approved by Cramer. She also spoke at a congressional subcommittee meeting involving Cramer, and bragged about her relationship with the North Dakota congressman and a presidential candidate, Burke said. […] She appeared in Cramer’s campaign ad entitled ‘No One Should Have To Be Afraid’ in 2014. Three years later, the video had 314 views and 15 subscribers on YouTube.” [High Plains Reader, 10/4/17]

Krenz Submitted Testimony To A House Subcommittee Oversight Hearing On Child Protection At the Spirit Lake Reservation

2014: Cramer Announced A House Natural Resources Subcommittee Oversight Hearing On Child Protection And The Justice System On The Spirit Lake Reservation In North Dakota

  • 2014: Cramer Announced A House Natural Resources Subcommittee On Indian And Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing On Child Protection And The Justice System On The Spirit Lake Reservation. According to the Dickinson Press, “A Woodworth woman will tell a congressional subcommittee this month about her experiences working with at-risk children on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., announced Tuesday that the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs would hold an oversight hearing on child protection and the justice system on the Spirit Lake Reservation. Betty Jo Krenz of Woodworth is expected to testify at the June 24 hearing.” [Dickinson Press, 6/11/14]

Krenz Was Expected To Testify, But Was Not Listed As A Witness Before The Subcommittee

  • Krenz Was Expected To Testify At The Congressional Hearing About Her Time As A Case Manager For Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services At The Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. According to Dickinson Press, “A Woodworth woman will tell a congressional subcommittee this month about her experiences working with at-risk children on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. […] Betty Jo Krenz of Woodworth is expected to testify at the June 24 hearing. Krenz worked previously as a case manager for Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services. She was terminated in June 2011 after bringing to light problems of child abuse on the reservation. She has advocated for Native American children since.” [Dickinson Press, 6/11/14]
  • Krenz Was Not Listed As A Witness For The Spirit Lake Congressional Hearing.[Office of Rep. Kevin Cramer, 6/23/17]

Krenze Did Submit Written Testimony

  • Krenz Submitted Testimony For The Congressional Hearing, But Was Not Present.According to the High Plains Reader, Krenz “gave testimony before a congressional subcommittee, which included Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND).” The GPO recorded a statement from Krenz that was submitted to the oversight hearing before the subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. [High Plains Reader, 9/28/17; GPO,6/24/14]

Krenz Defended Cramer After He was Accused Of A “Tirade” During A Meeting With Native Americans

Cramer Was Quoted As Saying He Would Not Feel “Safe” On Native American Reservations” And Asking “How Could A Non-Native Man Get A Fair Trial On The Reservations”

  • 2013: An Official Present At A Gathering Of Victim-Assistance Professionals From North Dakota’s American Indian Reservations Said Cramer Told Them He Would Not Feel “Safe” On Reservations Because Of New Provisions In The Violence Against Women Act. According to the Grand Forks Herald, “Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told a gathering of victim-assistance professionals from the state’s American Indian reservations in Bismarck on Tuesday that he would not feel ‘safe’ on reservations because of new provisions in the Violence Against Women Act, according to one official who was present. The new provisions would allow non-Indians to be tried in tribal courts, which Cramer reportedly said threatened due process rights of non-Indians and will be ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.” [Grand Forks Herald, 3/28/13]
  • Cramer Was Quoted As Saying, “Tribal Governments Are Dysfunctional. Tribal Courts Are Dysfunctional, And How Could A Non-Native Man Get A Fair Trial On The Reservations?” According to the Grand Forks Herald, “Melissa Merrick, director of the Spirit Lake Nation’s victim assistance program, posted her account of the meetingThursday on the website Last Real Indians, and the posting quickly generated a buzz on social media. She quoted Cramer as saying, ‘Tribal governments are dysfunctional. Tribal courts are dysfunctional, and how could a non-native man get a fair trial on the reservations?’” [Grand Forks Herald, 3/28/13]
  • Cramer Said His Quoted Remarks Were The Result Of A Misunderstanding But Apologized For His Tone. According to the Grand Forks Herald, “Cramer said he was trying to arrange a conversation with Merrick to apologize for the misunderstanding and the tone of his remarks. Cramer said he was trying to explain why he had sought to ‘improve’ the reauthorized act by addressing what he believes are constitutional flaws that are likely to bring court challenges, but that the manner of his presentation may have been inappropriate. ‘We had a very frank discussion about my belief in equal protection under the law and due process,’ he said. ‘I don’t want it (VAWA) overturned. I wanted to improve it so it doesn’t get overturned. ‘I engaged in a discussion, or maybe I should say debate, that was probably more like a debate we’d have in Congress than with a group of people dedicated to helping women and children. I want to apologize to her for that.’” [Grand Forks Herald, 3/28/13]
  • Headline: “Rep Cramer Disputes Account Of ‘Tirade’ During Meeting With American Indians, But Apologizes For Tone.” [Grand Forks Herald, 3/28/13]
  • Krenz Said She Would Tell Cramer “Kudos” And “Way To Go” In Response To His Alleged Tirade Against Tribal Officials. According to the Say Anything Blog, “Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview Betty Jo Krenz, a former social worker for the Spirit Lake tribe who has helped blow the whistle on the tribe’s child protection scandal. ‘Kudos,’ Krenz told me when I asked her what she would say to Rep. Kevin Cramer in response to his alleged tirade against tribal officials last week. ‘Way to go.’” [Say Anything Blog, 4/1/13]

Cramer Was Criticized For Not Speaking Out Against Krenz

Cramer Repeatedly Avoided Commenting About Krenz…

  • Cramer’s Office Did Not Respond To Repeated Attempts For Comment. According to the High Plains Reader, “Cramer’s office has been contacted repeatedly for comment, but has said nothing about the situation.” [High Plains Reader, 11/14/17]

…Which Led To Criticism From Krenz’s Victims And Parental Orginizations

  • Woman Allegedly “Duped” By Krenz Into Paying $1,800 In Adoption Fees: “He [Cramer] Owes The People Of North Dakota An Apology For Not Doing His Research On Her Before Aligning Himself With Her So Tightly.” According to the High Plains Reader, “During the time she was allegedly involved in faking adoptions, she frequently mentioned Cramer, and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, according to Autym Burke, who said she was ‘duped’ by Krenz. She initially paid $1,800 in adoption fees, which were later mostly paid back. […] Krenz taking the spotlight in Cramer’s campaign is an issue Burke hopes will be noticed. ‘He [Cramer] owes the people of North Dakota an apology for not doing his research on her before aligning himself with her so tightly,’ Burke said. ‘I have made it clear that he played an intricate role into my faith in her. I believed she was tight with him, she must be okay. I was a fool to believe that, and he is a fool for not stepping up and admitting that a gross error has been made here in his camp.’” [High Plains Reader, 11/14/17]
  • National Collective Of Concerned Parents Founder Said Cramer’s Decision Not To Speak Out Against Krenz “Speaks Volumes.” According to the High Plains Reader, “Janel Herald, the founder of the National Collective of Concerned Parents, said the case was feeling like another crime against Native Americans that was to be swept under the rug until the State’s Attorney’s Office became involved. ‘Silence speaks volumes,’ Herald said. ‘I’ve taken away a lot from that silence. To Governor Burgum, senators Hoeven and Heitkamp, and especially Congressman Cramer who used Mrs. Betty Jo Krenz in his campaign advertisement, this is what your silence has spoken: you chose not to speak out against the protection of children and child exploitation. You chose not to speak on protection of the citizens against fraud, theft by deception or conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Why is that? Why do you choose to take ‘wait and see’ approaches on even the matters that would matter the most to your constituents – humanity.” [High Plains Reader, 11/14/17]