ethics | Prairie Public Broadcasting


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."

ND Ethics Commission appointed

Aug 8, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Five members have been appointed to the new state Ethics Commission.

A committee made up of Gov. Doug Burgum, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) and Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford) made the appointments.

The committee chose former district judge Ron Goodman of Oakes, tribal college president Cynthia Lindquist of Ft. Totten, former Sanford Health executive Paul Richard of Fargo, former Williston Mayor Ward Koser and former National Guard General David Anderson of Bismarck.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A committee to choose the five members of the new Ethics Commission has narrowed the number of candidates to 17.

Gov. Doug Burgum, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) and Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford) make up the committee.  At one point, the committee had hoped to have the five members named by July First – but they all say they have more work to do in checking references and researching the candidates.

"We need people who are deliberative, and ready to take on a tough job," Heckaman said. "They themselves should be ethical."

The Legislature has passed a bill to begin the implementation of the new Article 14 of the state’s Constitution – the Ethics article.

It was passed by voters last November. It establishes an Ethics Commission, and required the Legislature to establish standards when it comes to ethical conduct.

"Probably the most important thing I can say about this bill is that it's a work in progress," said Sen. Dick Dever (R-Bismarck). "It's a blueprint."

Compromise reached on ethics legislation

Apr 24, 2019

A House-Senate conference committee has approved a compromise bill to implement the new Article 14 of the Constitution – concerning ethics.

It was a compromise to the House version of the bill.

"I think this is a great attempt to implement what Measure One says we need to implement," said Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo), the author of the original House bill, and the chairman of the conference committee.

Kasper called it a "work in progress."

"As you can see, there's heartache and concern," Kasper said. "But I think we have done a pretty good job."

Ethics measures still pending in the Legislature

Apr 4, 2019

Lawmakers are still working on measures that would implement the new ethics Constitutional amendment that voters passed in November.

Each chamber passed its own bill – and sent it to the other chamber.

A Senate committee is now looking at the House bill. And the chairman of the House committee on Ethics said he will wait to see what the Senate does with the House bill before he moves on the Senate’s version.

Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) said the House version is meant to provide the soon to be appointed Ethics Commission with some clarity.

The Legislature is still working on how to implement the new ethics portion of the state Constitution.

Voters approved the amendment last November. And each of the chambers introduced its own bill to implement the amendment.

A Senate committee is looking at the House’s version.

"I'm hoping that we will, in essence, fill in the blanks, where the measure directed us to set, for example, penalties," said the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot).

Hogue said he would also like to see one effective date for the measure.

Senate passes Ethics bill

Feb 20, 2019

The North Dakota Senate has passed its version of enabling legislation to implement the voter-approved Constitutional measure on ethics.

The Senate bill establishes a five-member independent ethics commission. It also limits lobbyist gifts, prohibits candidates from spending their campaign money on personal items, and bans foreign money from state elections.

Sen. Jessica Unruh (R-Beulah) told the Senate she was a vocal opponent of the ballot measure. But she said it is now a part of the Constitution.

Now that voters have approved a change in the state’s Constitution regarding ethics for elected officials, there has to be legislation to get it implemented – and to write rules.

Lawmakers are looking at two competing measures. One is sponsored by Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo), who calls his measure a “simple three-part bill.”

"It says, 'Get the ethics commission to work, study the sticky issues in the interim, and in the next session, do the full implementation,'" Mathern said.

That bill would establish the five-member state Ethics Commission.

In November, voters approved a state Constitutional change to create a state ethics commission.

Now, a Fargo lawmaker has introduced a bill to implement it.

Sen. Tim Mathern’s (D-Fargo) bill would take four years to fully implement. The bill creates the five-member commission now, and then calls for an interim study to set out the rules on what government officials and lobbyists can and cannot do.