ND House Passes Bill Aimed At Dalrymple Grand Jury Petition

copy-of-1208-dalrymple-waves

In a sad spectacle, a group of seriously misguided political activists have been trying to get North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple indicted for bribery because he accepted and disclosed perfectly legal political contributions. These activists contend that Dalrymple, who is generally favorable to oil development in the state, accepted political contributions from individuals and PAC’s who work in and/or represent the oil industry.

That every single person who makes a political contribution to a candidate is supporting a candidate who is friendly to their interests apparently escapes this people. This is democracy. This is how it works. These people are trying to criminalize what ought to be protected speech.

Anyway, these activists have been gathering signatures to empanel a grand jury to investigate their charges as is allowed by North Dakota law. They’ve chosen Dunn County as their battle ground, but a judge there (while rejecting the petition for including signatures from people who don’t actually live in the county) noted that they’ve picked the wrong venue. Governor Dalrymple lives in Bismarck, which is where the grand jury ought to be organized.

The activists, who seem to have more passion than intelligence, insist that the judge is wrong and that Dunn County is the proper venue. That Dunn County’s low population makes the signature threshold for the petitions several orders of magnitude lower than that which would be required in Burleigh County is no doubt the true motivating factor. The truth is there just isn’t a lot of support out there for this fool’s errand, and any petition effort in Burleigh County is likely to fail.

Which brings us to HB1042, which amends the North Dakota Century Code to require that action be brought against a defendant either in the place where that defendant lives or in the place where the defendant lives (it passed the House yesterday with a unanimous vote). In the “case” against Dalrymple (I use that term lightly because the “case” for bribery here is a fantasy) it is bribery being alleged. Since Dalrymple lives in Bismarck, and since his campaign’s office is also in Bismarck, then Burleigh County is the proper venue.

Some of the activists have been in touch with me angry about this bill which they feel is targeting them specifically. They’re no doubt right, the bill is almost certainly a response to their actions, but it’s also a common sense clarification of existing law. That it’s inconvenient for their silly cause is irrelevant.

And I don’t feel a bit sorry for them.

I’m quite outspoken in my criticism of Governor Dalrymple, but I’m not about to support efforts to brand the man a criminal for engaging in democracy.

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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  • retirenowconrad

    Funny how quickly our “representatives” can act when they are protecting themselves.

    This bill should have amendments (similar to Federal bills) that contain the taxcuts Jack promised when the property tax measure was voted down.

    The petition is a joke, though, so I’m not disappointed.

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    I may be a bit thick, but I really don’t understand this sentence “against a defendant either in the place where that defendant lives or in the place where the defendant lives”.

    Other than that: the charge of bribery is little more than political theater. Rationally, these people are well aware that union and personal contributions to candidates would also be suspect. If I contribute to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, is it bribery because I’m a teacher? Is it bribery if the NDEA contributes?

    I don’t think these people expect to win and it won’t be to their own benefit to do so. They expect to taint Dalrymple with the idea of corruption. Enough of this and it will stick in people’s minds, right or wrong.

  • Tim Heise

    Silly liberals.

  • rockjock

    I guess i don’t think they are silly. I’d come down on the side that there is indeed a problem that the citizens have woken-up to and like clockwork the politicians are running to save their ass. This is as plain as day and that’s what this is about. Have read the complaint and evidence, Dalrymple is guilty as hell. Rob, I’m not sure how you can view this any other way. However, you’ve decided to come down on the side of the politician and donations to a campaign vs the individual reality. I guess I’d say the spirit of the law is being skewed to be only interpreted as the letter of the law, which falls nicely into the court of the politician. Just business as usual Rob. You probably, letter of the law legally, are right in your position. That doesn’t make the reality of what’s truly going on go away.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      What’s the reality of what’s truly going on? The oil industry is supporting a candidate who has a governing track record that is beneficial for their industry?

      That’s called, you know, democracy.

      This is wrong.

  • Commen Sense North Dakota

    You Know its funny Rob never tells you what Jack did. He aproved a 31,000 acr unit. Then with no hearing changed it to 37,000. No one will even defend what he did but just attack the process by which to bring justice. When you commit a crime you get charged where it was commited not where you live. It’s part of the common law Rob.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Justice for what? A governor exercising his authority through the State Industrial Commission in a perfectly legal way that’s consistent with his views on the matter?

      You’re out beyond Pluto.

  • Commen Sense North Dakota

    Rob your making a fool out of yourself. This bill passed has nothing to do with amending 29-03-04 if it does show me where.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      You’re the same person who thinks political contributions are bribes.

      I don’t take much of what you say seriously.

  • Jack Spendryple

    Get ready Iowa! The Paul Sorum Express is coming your way soon. Sorum/Paul, the ticket for the future.

    • somebodysomewhere

      I’d have to be squeezed into a very tight corner before I’d even consider supporting Sorum.

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