Every Single Democrat Ethics And Transparency Proposal Got A “Do Not Pass” Recommendation Yesterday

corey mock, mac schneider, jerry klein

At the beginning of the legislative session Democrats introduced a raft of transparency and ethics laws. Some of what Democrats are proposing are very, very bad ideas that would do to facilitate partisan bickering, and hinder free speech, than promote ethics or transparency.

HB1444, introduced by Rep. Gail Mooney, would require anyone proposing model legislation to a legislator register as a lobbyist. Which means that if you, as a citizen, take some policy promoted by a group like the NRA or Planned Parenthood to a legislator, asking them to introduce it, you have to register as a lobbyist. This b

HB1430, introduced by Rep. Ed Gruchalla, would require that corporations report their independent spending to the Secretary of State, and the bill would also require that independent political groups advocating for or against candidates disclose not only their contributors but who their contributors work for. The bill does exempt “any position taken in any bona fide news story, commentary, or editorial,” but that might not include private citizens running blogs (gulp).

HB1442, introduced by Rep. Corey Mock, would create a statewide ethics panel which “may investigate a complaint alleging that any member of the legislative assembly, elected or appointed executive branch officer, judge of the district court, supreme court justice, candidate for elective legislative, executive, or judicial office, lobbyist, or state employee.” That may sound good, in theory, but in reality this will be an instrument for partisan recriminations and fishing trips.

All three of these ill-advised bills received a 10-3 “do not pass” recommendation from the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee, and I suspect they’re on their way to getting defeated on the House floor. That’s as it should be.

But three bills coming from the Democrats that aren’t such bad ideas got panned by House, and Senate, committees too.

HB1436, HB1449 and SB2276 would expand reporting requirements for candidates for elected office. They would mean more information about how campaigns are funded available for public scrutiny. The House bills also got a 10-3 “do not pass” recommendation from the House Government Affairs committee, and the Senate bill got a 5-2 recommendation from the Senate version of that committee.

That’s unfortunate.

I suspect that Democrats submitted these bills as a part of a long-term agenda to prove that the Republican-dominated state is mired in corruption. They can use the failure of these bills as evidence of that. Republicans can weaken their case by passing some of these bills.

That some of these bills also happen to be good policy that will promote government transparency shouldn’t be ignored either.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • WOOF

    Ever seen a lobbyist ? Do they wear badges ?
    ‘Before engaging in any of the activities listed in section 54-05.1-02, an individual
    shall register with the secretary of state and receive a certificate of registration
    and a distinctive lobbyist identification badge that must be prominently worn by
    the lobbyist when engaged in any of the activities listed in section 54-05.1-02
    while on the capitol grounds.”

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      If you watch the video of the floor debates I post you can see the lobbyists sitting in the background.

      And yes, they wear their badges.

      • WOOF

        Thanks

  • The Fighting Czech

    Im all for holding politicians accountable. But these kinds of rules are a waste of time, honest politicians will follow the intent of the law, dishonest ones will find away to go around it. undoubtedly they will be self policed, and punishment would be a joke. On top of that, we would have to rely on the “honest” ones to prosecute the same fellows they go to “Happy Hour” with every day. basically it looks good in print, but thats about where it would end.

    • Lianne

      My sentiments, exactly. Will they be required to sign out with the travel monitor?
      And what happens when they don’t report with 30 days and it is 31 days? Or if they don’t report at all? And why $500.00? Why not ALL reimbursements? Senate bill is sophomoric at best. I would love to have each and everyone report all gifts, drinks, steaks, trips given by any outside source. I can see some family members accepting large gifts that they in turn share with their family member who is a member of the legislature.

      HB1449 morely clearly defines who in lines 13 and 14, but why lines 17-20, Rob?
      HB1436 again just add ‘or candidate for legislative office”.

  • Matthew Hawkins

    Do they define model legislation in the bill, they should.

    Model legislation is usually drafted by large committees of experts, such as the Model Penal Code.

    I am not sure that a law drafted by one special interest group would meet the definition of ‘model legislation”.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I am not sure that a law drafted by one special interest group would meet the definition of ‘model legislation”.

      That is exactly the intent of the law.

      And why are we afraid to consider ideas coming from speical interest groups or panels of experts? Isn’t that what the democratic process is for?

  • Matthew Hawkins

    Which means that if you, as a citizen, take some policy promoted by a
    group like the NRA or Planned Parenthood to a legislator, asking them to
    introduce it, you have to register as a lobbyist.

    This bill exempts “A private citizen appearing on the citizen’s own behalf.” So you are wrong.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      No, I’m not.

      If that citizen is carrying model legislation they found on some group’s website, they could be considered as not representing themselves.

      There’s no need for this legislation. A solution in search of a problem.

      • Matthew Hawkins

        If the are not affiliated with an organization than they are not acting on behalf of that organization. If they are affiliated with that organization than they are actually lobbyist.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          If the are not affiliated with an organization than they are not acting on behalf of that organization.

          That’s what you say, that’s not what the law says.

          What does affiliation mean? If I’m a dues-paying NRA member, am I a lobbyist if I take some of the policies the NRA proposes to my legislator?

          And what existing problem is this law solving?

          • Matthew Hawkins

            It is actually what the law says, you are just paranoid.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Paranoid of the government ovef regulating lolitical activity?

            We should all be paranoid of that.

            Tell me, what problem does this provision address?

          • Matthew Hawkins

            I am not sure would even vote for it. But the problem with it is not that it would keep average citizens from petitioning their government. It specifically exempts that because they were probably told by counsel if they didn’t it would be unconstitutional.

            Whether it is god law or whether it prevents citizens from petitioning their government are two different arguments.

  • Captjohn

    Rob the Democrats have been gnawing on this bone for 2 decades. I hope it backfires on them. As long as we continue to have a citizen legislature we can hope the voters understand these are their neighbors. If legislators are perceived to be for sale the voters can take care of it on Election Day.
    It does make sense to up date each legislators reporting of campaign contributions.
    With computer capability it wouldn’t be that hard to accompolish timely reporting.

  • Stuart

    Rob your commentary is a little liberal with you indicated you are a so called selective conservative. I guess you think compromise will make the Democrats like the Republicans more. When do we draw he line in compromise ? You don’t have to look very far ar UNFUNDED MANDATES and a 22 Trillion dollar debt with Obama Care to see what compromise has gotten us. We are in a bunch of do do ! Check the facts!

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