Are Anti-Measure 7 Activists Breaking North Dakota Campaign Laws?

According to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office, on October 3rd all political committees (including ballot measure committees) must have filed their campaign finance disclosures. What’s more, since we’re less than 39 days out from election day, all committees must make a report of any contributions in excess of $500 within 48 hours of the contribution.

But looking through the campaign disclosures posted on the Secretary of State’s website, a report from one of the most visible campaigns in the state right now is missing.

Advertising promoting a “no” vote on Measure 7, which would repeal the state’s protectionist pharmacy laws, seems to be everywhere. Billboards. Yard signs. Social media. The opponents of Measure 7 also have a slick website.

Disclosed at the bottom of all of this marketing, as required by state law, is a disclosure of who paid for it. In this instance North Dakotans for Prescription Facts which is chaired by Fargo pharmacist Dave Olig.

Clearly, this group has spent a lot of money on their campaign, which is fine. Walmart alone has reported over $1.3 million in independent spending supporting Measure 7, and North Dakotans for Lower Pharmacy Prices (the committee formed to support Measure 7) has spent nearly $800,000 to date.

But all of that information is disclosed on the Secretary of State’s website.

So far, none of the contributions and expenditures against Measure 7 have been disclosed, and the deadline was 12 days ago.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem at the Secretary of State’s office. State law now requires that disclosure reports be uploaded online, and they appear automatically on the state’s website. If the folks opposing Measure 7 had disclosed their contributions and expenditures, it would be available.

This seems to be a pretty grievous violation of the state’s transparency laws.

I contacted Mr. Olig about this, and he said he had “no idea” why no disclosure reports have been filed. He directed me to Mike Schwab of the North Dakota Pharmacists Association who I’ve emailed.

I’ll update when I get an explanation.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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