From the desk of Elizabeth Rich Grey Bear
The ND Senate Bill 2148 hearing I attended at the North Dakota state capitol in March was
striking for me. The one sentence resounding by one of the legislators speaking, I believe it was from a
question posed by Josh Boschee, remains key for [TBOR] takeback.org, a conservative solutions entity
for campaign finance reform.
The question was asked by the former candidate, who ran against our sitting Secretary of State,
Al Jaeger, that was Josh Boschee, and this was the most enlightening question and answering moment I
took away from this boring hooranging against our newly voted on Ethics Commission, Measure One.
Here in my state of ND, 54% voted yes!
So, the answer was the federal PACs are housed in the offices of the Secretary of State in North
Dakota inside our capitol building and only paper files, meaning, nothing is loaded online such as this
office does with its state PACs for public consumption. Again, not available online.
Moreover, I walked into this office requesting to see these paper files. Not happening, folks.
Let me walk you through my experience, imagine my dismay, after hearing that I had access to this
information if I just walked into this office and asked to see those files.
I did ask… Here’s the truth: The federal files are not accessible to Joe Q. Public walking into this
office to see them. These files are enormously large. At least 70 or more at a time arrive, I was told by
the Elections Specialist, who would appreciate not being named. The files are held by these bureaucrats
and she was more than freely describing just how vast these files remain. By the way, these files with
lengthy federal forms to be filled out, naming INCs and who is who to be designated, and then
accumulate over 3 years to then become archived at our ND State Library in the same state complex
here in Bismarck, their final destination.
So therefore, since Citizens United in 2010, my state too is inundated by federal forms inside
this elections agency, fees are paid and no average citizen just like I remain, can view them. See this
map is handed out, this map directed me inside the building to the other portion of this enormous office
for elections and notaries, on the other side of the building. Then there’s this list, the list outlines public
access online, the only digital state files of state PACs, not foreign out of state PACs. Big difference,
wouldn’t you say?
Plus the state files and their companies are transparent whereas the federal files, which can’t be
readily seen, so how would we know who owns them, where are each located and so forth. We The
People cannot see these federal PACs.
These PACs are the foreigners, according to our monopolistic structure for this great state,
because these are federal, out-of-state companies influencing our local elections. Plain as day.
Yet, not one citizen, like me for instance, can walk into this space, ask to see them and truly
review each, take a selfie next to these vital files in respective order in file cabinets and report it back to
TBOR. What a concept, right? Transparency to We the People via an actual citizen seeing just how vast
the files are still in play in ND for foreign PACs influencing every election here election after election.
This really ought to change here in North Dakota soon!