SUBSCRIBE NOW AND SAVE $1 for 6 months of unlimited news

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Port: 'Badass Grandmas' doth protest too much

We're lucky that the current commissioners have acted with principle, diligence, and restraint, but we shouldn't have to rely on their forbearance in the face of caterwauling from the "grandmas" who want the commission to be their tool in sensationalist gotcha campaigns.

4082958+1ecks0frnbduw22ftbjdarsxlrs17ek.jpg
Dina Butcher, left, hands North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger a proposed petition for a ballot measure to add anti-corruption policies to the state constitution Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 at the state Capitol in Bismarck. John Hageman / Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D. — The ballot measure which created North Dakota's ethics commission was pushed by a front group for national left-wing interests called, ironically enough, North Dakotans for Public Integrity .

The two women who were the face of this campaign, Dina Butcher and Ellen Chaffee , are rank partisans (the latter contributed financial support to the man who took an ax to Sen. John Hoeven's office last year ) less concerned with accountability for government than creating a venue where North Dakota's current Republican majority could be assailed with innuendo and gotcha claims.

Perversely, these two women, who, forgetting how unseemly it is to bestow a nickname upon oneself, now style themselves the "Badass Grandmas," are using words like "transparency" and "accountability" as cover for their political machinations.

They were successful with their ballot measure campaign, funded as it was with big-money contributions from out of state, including from an Enron billionaire , but now they've run into some frustration.

The ethics commission isn't doing their bidding.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE FROM ROB PORT

The people put in charge of it don't share their hyperpartisan inclinations.
The commissioners have been building out policies and procedures, but the "grandmas" wanted some blood on the ground by now.

Their out-of-state backers aren't getting what they paid for.

So, at a recent public hearing over proposed conflict of interest rules for state regulators, Chaffee and Butcher threw a fit, throwing around some contrived claims that the ethics commission hasn't been sufficiently open and transparent.

What information, specifically, have Chaffee and Butcher been unable to access? The Bismarck Tribune published a lengthy article about their gripes this week and having read it, for the life of me I can't figure it out.

Ellen Chaffee and Richard Jensen.jpg
Local Fargo "pro-democracy" activist Richard Jensen and North Dakotans for Public Integrity co-leader Ellen Chaffee hold the "Courage Award" that Chaffee and co-leader Dina Butcher received at a national summit in Nashville over the weekend for their work on getting Measure One passed last fall. Chaffee said the award really belongs to North Dakotans who voted for the ethics and anti-corruption amendment. Barry Amundson / The Forum

The commission's meetings are open. All open meeting and records laws are seemingly being followed. Butcher, specifically, told the Tribune that she and her fellow activist cranks are going to file some sort of complaint about the commission, but it's not clear what that complaint would be or who it would be filed with.

ADVERTISEMENT

One is left with the impression that Butcher and Chaffee are creating a public spectacle as a ham-handed attempt to bully the commission into being more pliable to their agenda.

Which is precisely the danger in creating this sort of commission in the first place.

We're lucky that the current commissioners have acted with principle, diligence, and restraint, but we shouldn't have to rely on their forbearance in the face of caterwauling from the likes of Chaffee and Butcher who want the commission to be their tool in sensationalist gotcha campaigns.

Their motivations are puerile and ugly, all the more so because they're hidden behind what they'd like the public to see as a push for accountable, accessible, transparent government.

North Dakota's government, flawed though it is, was already those things, and if Democrats were winning elections in our state, that's how Chaffee and Butcher would see it too.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

ADVERTISEMENT

Rob Port column mug sig fsa.jpg
Rob Port

Rob Port column mug sig fsa.jpg
Rob Port

What to read next
"Where's the pushback on the Big Lie? I don't mean one mealy mouth, vaguely worded whisper for the record. I mean repeated pushback ... Speak out. I dare you."
Normal composts break down using air, or an aerobic atmosphere.
Chairman Perrie Schafer justified recent changes by arguing that the state party “provides lots of support to whomever is the endorsed candidate.”
Every day we see crime stories and mugshots in the media. How often do we think about the human beings behind those stories? How often do we default to the prosecution's narrative in those stories?