North Dakota Democrats Make A Mockery Of Ethics
It is fashionable, this time in the election cycle, for political observers to rail against the endless political advertising and breathless campaign news cycle as evidence of a republic in decline. And to be sure, the “sausage making” of democracy can be off-putting at times.
But what has loomed over this political cycle in North Dakota in a way that’s far more upsetting than endless television ads and grandstanding candidates are efforts by Democrats in the state to pervert the cause of ethical and transparent and use them as political tools.
The Public Service Commission/US House race is the best example, where Democrats have accused Republican Commissioner Brian Kalk and Commissioner/House candidate Kevin Cramer of unethical practices when they accepted campaign contributions from interests they regulate through the PSC. The basis of these accusations is a lawsuit filed by environmental activists (the Sierra Club and the Dakota Resource Council) which seek to remove North Dakota’s authority to regulate surface mining and hand it over to the federal government.
Democrat PSC candidate Brad Crabtree and his partisan colleague House candidate Pam Gulleson have made much of these contributions, but it’s much ado about nothing. These contributions were legally made and disclosed. That they came from interests regulated by the PSC is of no more concern than contributions from teachers, who are regulated by the Department of Public Instruction, making contributions to the Superintendent candidates. Or farmers, regulated by the Agriculture Commission, making contributions to the next Ag Commissioner.
In a democracy, those who are regulated get a say in who regulates them. Up to and including expressing their political speech through campaign contributions.
But this isn’t the only area in which Democrats are setting back the causes of ethics and transparency with partisan gamesmanship. State Rep. Corey Mock has been a champion of a report, produced by a Soros-funded activist group with an assist from Forum Communications and their reporter Teri Finneman who ran with it as though it were objective news, which claims that North Dakota is the “most corrupt” state in the nation.
The basis for North Dakota’s corruption? Among other things, our legislature doesn’t have an ethics panel, unlike the federal Congress or states like Illinois and New Jersey, all of which are well known for governance as pure as the driven snow, right?
Believe it or not, this report actually ranked New Jersey as the least corrupt state in the nation. You can’t make this stuff up.
But I digress. Mock has taken to using this absurd ethics reports in his legislative race, where the example of “corruption” he cites is his Republican opponents inadvertently using the State Seal of North Dakota in a political advertisement. Mock immediately pitched the story to the Huffington Post, and made it sound like some local version of the infamous Watergate scandal had been uncovered:
One of Mitzel’s Democratic opponents, state Rep. Corey Mock, indicated that he hopes Welte does handle the case down the line, noting that he believes that local prosecutors do not handle political cases in a state that has been deemed the “most corrupt” in the country by USA Today and the Center for Public Integrity.
“It is my understanding that these matters have been forwarded to the Grand Forks County state’s attorney for investigation and further action,” said Mock, who has pushed ethics reforms in the state. “Unfortunately, most state’s attorneys turn a blind eye to campaign and election laws in our state, allowing candidates and elected officials to play into the narrative that North Dakota is the most corrupt state in the country.”
You really have to admire how the liberals operate sometimes. First they manufacture nonsensical conclusions from their ideological (but allegedly “non-partisan) think tanks, and then get their liberal media friends to make it into a news story. Then they beat an unsuspecting public over the head with the “facts” that aren’t so much fact but engineered talking points.
But is this really helping the causes of transparency and ethics in government? Of course not. It’s pure political point-scoring, and our state is the worse for it.Tags: Brad Crabtree, Brian Kalk, corey mock, ethics, Kevin Cramer, North Dakota News, pam gulleson, Public Service Commission