Plain Talk: ND Commerce Commissioner says her office is 'working on the how' to re-open businesses

North Dakota Department of Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer speaks on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, during the The Chamber's Eggs and Issues event at the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead.

"We are working on the how. We are not working on the when."

That's what North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer said on this episode of Plain Talk. She was speaking about her department's efforts to come up with a plan for re-opening North Dakota's economy.

Parts of it, anyway.



Kommer praised Gov. Doug Burgum's "extraordinary wisdom in not going to the shelter-in-place order" despite demands from some. She said that will allow North Dakota to be a bit ahead of other areas as we look to get back to business.

The Commerce Department is soliciting input from business and industry leaders on how they can safely re-open so that plans can be open when Burgum decides to back off the restrictions he implemented in response to the pandemic.

Kommer also addressed the conclusion of an investigation into alleged criminal wrong-doing in her department over the solicitation and implementation of a new state logo. State Auditor Josh Gallion's office had referred audit findings to law enforcement officials for investigation, but that resulted in no criminal findings.

Kommer says she objects to the way the report was handled, saying it was "paralyzing" for her office. She said the result brought "a certain amount of relief" but "also a lot of frustration and maybe a touch of anger."

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

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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