Port: Michigan-based term limits group files ethics complaint against state lawmaker

Michigan-based U.S. Term limits claims that a $5,000 contribution made by its founder went unreported by a Fargo state lawmaker who is proposing changes last year's term limits amendment.

Jim Kasper
Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo)
File photo

MINOT, N.D. — U.S. Term Limits is the out-of-state group that financed last year's term limits amendments, which was approved by voters.

The state Legislature is currently considering an amendment to make some changes to what was approved by the voters. Under that proposal, the term limits would be expanded from eight years to 12 years, with the clock resetting once an elected official spends a term out of office. It would also expand term limits to the other statewide elected offices.

Rep. Jim Kasper, a Republican from Fargo, is the sponsor of that resolution. U.S. Term Limits doesn't like the resolution. Now U.S. Term Limits has filed an ethics complaint against Kasper, accusing him of not making the required disclosure of a $5,000 donation.

The complaint was filed by Scott Tillman, a Michigan-based activist represents U.S. Term Limits. The group announced the ethics complaint with a news release. The state ethics commission is prohibited, by law, from confirming or denying their investigations.

To say that this is an unusual situation is putting it mildly.


The accusation that Kasper didn't properly report a significant campaign contribution is a serious one, and should be taken seriously, but it's hard to ignore the obvious motivations behind this complaint. Kasper was an outspoken critic of the term limits campaign last year. He's backed an amendment modify those term limits this year.

Now the special interest group that paid for the petition circulators and campaign operatives who put this amendment on the ballot is using the ethics process to throw dirt some dirt at Kasper.

I can't speak to the veracity of what U.S. Term limits is alleging, and Kasper didn't immediately respond to my inquiries, but it's worth noting that the campaign contribution, made by U.S. Term Limits founder Howard Rich, of Philadelphia, happened in August of 2020.

That was years ago, but Mr. Rich and his organization are just now making an issue out of it? And it comes shortly after they accused Kasper of reneging on a pledge he signed to their group to support term limits?

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Again, Kasper is responsible for complying with our state's campaign finance laws. And, let's be honest, there aren't many of them, and they aren't hard to comply with. If he broke the law, shame on him, though that remains to be seen.

Still, it's hard not to look at the way U.S. Term Limits is handling this — using an ethics complaint about a years-old contribution to bully a state lawmaker and influence an ongoing policy debate — and feel like the whole thing is, well, kinda gross.

Did we really intend for our ethics process to be used in this way?

It's worth remembering, in this context, that the signature campaign U.S. Term limits ran to put this measure on the ballot was, to put it mildly, ethically dubious , though our state Supreme Court find a loophole wide enough to let the amendment onto the ballot anyway.


This whole thing stinks.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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