In 2018, Measure 1 was passed by the voters and established the North Dakota Ethics Commission.
The Ethics Commission is tasked with investigating complaints against lawmakers, state elected officials, lobbyists, and candidates.
Now in 2020, if a new contentious ballot initiative passes in this year’s November 3rd election, the Ethics Commission will have a new responsibility: drawing of legislative district boundaries.
Conservatives who oppose Measure 3 on this year’s ballot are pointing back to the 2018 election, and to the Ethics Commission, as the beginning stage of what they are calling a long-range plan by outside interest groups to overhaul North Dakota’s political system.
“They have no problem saying here’s what we’re gonna do. In 2018 we’re gonna do this, in 2022 we’re going to do that, by 2024 we should have it flipped . We’re gonna go in we’re gonna get an ethics commission. Two years later we’re gonna completely flip how they vote,” said District 7 House Representative Rick Becker.
In 2018, more than a million dollars was donated from various interest groups to finance the campaign for Measure 1. The top donor for Measure 1 was Represent Us, an organization based out of Massachusettes. They contributed $268 thousand dollars to the 2018 initiative’s campaign.
In this year’s election, the same non-profit is contributing about $124 thousand dollars to the contentious Measure 3.
“When outside organizations say we can spend 1/10th or 1/20th of what we would have to in this other state and we can flip North Dakota just like that they jump at the chance. I mean it’s the lowest hanging fruit,” said Becker.
And, Becker is right. Represent Us is openly trying to change state laws to spawn nationwide reform.
A line from the organization’s website reads, quote: “The biggest changes in America almost always start in the states. From Women’s Suffrage to Interracial Marriage, states led the way to federal reform. And it still works today.” unquote.
When I asked N.D. Ethics Commission Executive Director, Dave Thiele, how it made him feel to know that the initiative to establish the Ethics Commission’s formation was funded and brought to fruition by outside progressive-leaning interest groups, Thiele replied “At the end of the day it passed. And, so the Commission’s role and responsibility is to implement the constitution that was approved by the voters.”
The five members of the North Dakota Ethics Commission are appointed by the Governor, Senate Majority and Minority Leader.
Opponents of the Ethis Commission say that because it is appointed, and not presided by elected officials, it’s not representative of North Dakota’s majority of conservative voters.
However, Thiele says the Ethics Commission was explicitly designed to leave politics aside and be impartial.
“I think that they leave their political beliefs at the door. And, that’s appropriate,” said Thiele.
The North Dakota Ethics Commission has determined to not have any comment or opinion on Measure 3.
As KX News reported earlier this week, the conservative organization, Brighter Future Alliance, is suing Secretary of State Al Jaeger over Measure 3.
The State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at 3 p.m. Thursday, August 19th. The arguments will be streamed online.
To read the full Measure No. 3:
And, take a closer look at 2018’s Measure 1, which established the N.D. Ethics Commission.