Bismarck, ND – Lawmakers worry out-of-state money played a major role in North Dakota’s November elections.
A state committee met today that is looking into how money could be influencing initiated and referred measures. That’s a measure that gets on a ballot by petition.
Marsy’s Law is an example of that. It is a constitutional amendment that protects certain victims rights like the right to be notified of a court hearing. Some said it would be expensive and delay court proceedings. In November, It passed with 62% support.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger presented a case study on the fundraising for Marsy’s Law on Tuesday.
.A group supporting Marsy’s Law raised $2,866,677.00. All of that money was from out-of-state contributions. According to the case study, the group didn’t raise a single penny from in-state donations.
“What we’ve experienced is out of state interests coming into our state with a lot of money and literally buying an election. That concerns me. What is the solution? Based on the Supreme Court’s rulings on freedom of speech and things like that; that’s the dilemma,” Commission member, Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) said.
Another one presented by Sec. Jaeger on Tuesday was the “Stop Animal Cruelty” measure.
In 2012, people voted on a measure making certain types of animal cruelty a class C felony. Nearly all of the in-state donations made went to a group against this measure. That was $172,087.80. But because of $964,005.35 in out-of-state donations, a group supporting the measure raised a lot more money. Despite the difference, the measure still failed. But lawmakers passed an animal cruelty bill the next year.
Rep. Kasper said this kind of money can go a long way.
“When you’re only dealing with 740-thousand people, and our TV buys are generally much less than the state of California, It’s everything. If you recall, the advertising during Marsy’s Law, it was all over the state and it was constant,” he said.
The commission will hold several more meetings before making recommendations on any changes to the current election system.