It’s a curious thing to watch how the proponents of Measure 1 – the so called “ethics measure” which seems a lot more about restricting political speech – behave themselves.
These preening martinets rail against the influence of deep-pocketed interests in politics, and yet their measure campaign was bankrolled by Hollywood activists and far left groups like Represent.us which dropped nearly $150,000 on the campaign according to disclosures made with the Secretary of State’s office.
And now Represent.us held some sort of a gala in Nashville where they gave the figureheads of the campaign – Dina Butcher and Ellen Chaffee – an award presented by actress Jennifer Lawrence.
“I think Butcher got more hugs than Jennifer Lawrence,” Chaffee said per reporter Barry Amundson. The Nashville event was also attended by celebrities like Ed Helms, Lawrence, and anti-gun activist Emma Gonzalez.
State Rep. Ruth Buffalo (D-Fargo) was also a “featured speaker” at the event, listed alongside Lawrence, Helms, etc.
It’s unclear what Buffalo, who has been in office for mere months, spoke about.
Who paid for these folks to attend the event?
I reached out to Chaffee for information. She was indignant at my request – “I’m mystified by your interest in this,” she told me via email – but admitted that both she and Butcher received free admission to the event. They paid for their own travel expenses, per Chaffee.
Buffalo, however, hasn’t responded to my request for information sent to her official legislative email account on Thursday. She also didn’t immediately respond to a phone call made to the cell phone number listed in her legislative biography as of this morning.
This is problematic because the text of Measure 1 – the measure that was lobbied for by Butcher and Chaffee, and bankrolled by Represent.us which sponsored this event – along with companion legislation before the Legislature in Bismarck would seem make any remuneration for Buffalo’s speaking engagement illegal.
Thanks to Measure 1, Article XIV Section 2 of the North Dakota Constitution now reads:
What’s more, SB2148 (which is currently in conference committee and is supported by the Measure 1 campaign) defines a lobbyist this way:
The North Dakotans for Public Integrity is the organization which campaigned for Measure 1 and is currently advocating for the passage of SB2148 in Bismarck. They clearly are trying to influence legislation, and they’re bankrolled in part by Represent.us.
Represent.us hosted Rep. Ruth Buffalo at their gala in Tennessee as a speaker, but Buffalo isn’t responding to inquiries as to reimbursement for travel expenses or payment for her speaking engagement.
To be clear, I have absolutely no problem with Rep. Buffalo speaking at this gala. If she was reimbursed for travel expenses and/or compensated for the speech I think that’s all just fine. Our laws should require disclosure of such things, so the taxpayers are aware of them, but they should not this activity as Measure 1 and the implementing legislation favored by its proponents does.
Represent.us has a big interest in changing North Dakota’s laws. They invested a lot of money in the last election cycle to amend our state constitution, after all. Yet they don’t seem to be living up to the spirit of the very laws they paid to help create.