Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ethics group pushing ND lawmakers to quickly adopt full disclosure of campaign donors over $200

The group that spearheaded the campaign for the new state Constitutional ethics amendment is now asking legislators to follow the intent of the article’s section one –and require full disclosure of the sources of campaign spending over the $200 mark.

North Dakotans for Public Integrity appeared before the Legislature’s Interim Judiciary Committee.

"Voters have a right to know who's spending money to try to influence their votes," said group member Ellen Chaffee in an interview. "It's all about transparency."

Chaffee said there is a growing concern about “dark money” in campaigns, where voters see ads with standard "paid for by..." -- but don’t know who’s really behind them.

"There are all kinds of advertisements, some of them from sources where we don't know who's spending the money," Chaffee said. "We can guess. But we're entitled to know."

Chaffee said it should matter to voters just who is really putting those messages out.

"This will give us that transparency," Chaffee said.

Rob Cook is a former Republican Legislator from Montana. He said in their 2015 session, lawmakers passed what is known as the “Disclose Act.”

"It looked at the window from about one week before mail ballots were sent, up until election day, and said, 'If you choose to participate in campaign mailings during that time, then you have to disclose your donors,'" Cook said in an interview. "If not, then your donors can remain anonymous, and can operate throughout the rest of the two year period, unmolested."

Cook said that law has made a tremendous difference.

"These outside groups have just packed up stakes, and quit spending during that disclosure window," Cook said.

Cook said it has also had the effect of empowering local voters.

Chaffee said by 2022, the North Dakota Legislature has to have a law in place for that kind of transparency.

Related Content