State funded some trips retired North Dakota GOP state senator Ray Holmberg ... trends now
A retired Republican state senator from North Dakota charged with traveling to Prague with the intent of paying for sex with a minor used state funds to pay for at least three trips to that city and to other destinations in Europe.
Prosecutors said in a statement that Holmberg, who served for 45 years in the chamber, repeatedly traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic from June 2011 to November 2016 for the purpose of paying for sex with a person under 18 years old.
Travel records from the North Dakota School Boards Association show that former state senator Ray Holmberg used public funding for trips in 2011, 2018 and 2019 to Prague in the Czech Republic and to other cities, including Amsterdam and Berlin.
The trips were arranged through the Germany-based Global Bridges teacher exchange program, which received funding from the North Dakota Legislature.
Holmberg traveled with teachers twice and also on independent trips where he was invited to participate, such as for a forum, annual meeting or symposium, said Jon Martinson
It´s unclear whether the alleged conduct happened during the publicly funded trips. But the indictment says Holmberg traveled to Prague 'from on or about June 24, 2011, to on or about November 1, 2016 ... for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct.'
One of the travel records for the funded trips lists a departure date of June 24, 2011, to Prague and other cities.
The North Dakota Legislature gave money to the state Department of Public Instruction, which essentially passed it along to Global Bridges to pay for trips for teachers and legislators.
State Rep. Bob Martinson said he picked the legislators who went on the trips, usually a combination of men and women, House and Senate, Democratic and Republican for 'a balanced group of people who were interested in learning and would all get along together so it would not be a political trip.'
Holmberg 'established a really good rapport with Global Bridges, and they liked him, and they requested that he go to those meetings. They wanted him involved,' Martinson said.
His brother, former Association Executive Director Jon Martinson, was the project director and participated in the selection of teachers for the trips.
Photos on Holmberg's Facebook page show him traveling throughout Europe over the last 10 years, including in Slovakia and France.
Holmberg traveled with teachers twice and also on independent trips where he was invited to participate, such as for a forum, annual meeting or symposium, said Jon Martinson.
State Sen. Ray Holmberg, 79, was arrested Monday and released after pleading not guilty to the charges in U.S. District Court in Fargo
Prosecutors said in a statement that Holmberg, who served for 45 years in the chamber, repeatedly traveled to Prague