State Integrity Investigation; North Dakota Corruption Risk Report Cardhttp://www.stateintegrity.org/north_dakota
“WSI worker claims deletions broke law.”
[Fargo, ND] Feb. 26, 2012
Ethics Reform White Paper
Public officials in North Dakota have a duty to run their campaigns and performtheir jobs with the highest ethical standards. North Dakotans deserve to be able totrust their appointed and elected government officials to have their
best interests in mind. Further, there is an expectation that public officials willconduct the work on behalf of North Dakota with fairness and transparency.Currently, North Dakota is falling far short of the rest of the nation with regard toethical safeguards against abuses of power. In a recent investigation by the Center
for Public Integrity, North Dakota received an “F” on its Co
rruption Risk Report Card.
The study assessed transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption
mechanisms in all 50 states. North Dakota’s dismal ranking landed it 43 out of 50.While North Dakota has long relied on an “everybody knows everybody” honor
system, the changing times leave open the possibility of exploitation. Many states
New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana for example
wait for large-scale scandals toerupt before taking reform measures. North Dakota has the opportunity to lead byexample by proactively enacting measures that prevent bad actors from takingadvantage of the system.As a few recent events have shown, North Dakota is not immune to the perils of ethical misdeeds:In February, 2011 the
reported that officials at North Dakota
Workforce Safety and Insurance had been accused of deleting workers’ records in
order to avoid litigation by injured workers.
While the alleged conduct of theseworkers may not have been illegal it was certainly unethical and contrary to thespirit and goals of WSI. To date, the Governor has still taken no action against theofficials in question.Another example comes as a result of the booming oil industry
. North Dakota’s
Governor serves as the chair of the Industrial Commission and the
Oiland Gas Division is the regulating body in charge of issuing drilling permits to oilcompanies. These permits can be worth millions. Many companies have attemptedto better their odds by making large campaign contributions to influential officials.In some cases the contributions are up to ten times the maximum allowable infederal elections. This environment creates a conflict of interest, where electedofficials are beholden to the incoming oil companies, not North Dakotans.