MINOT, N.D. — North Dakota’s new ethics commission is a mess.
It’s a board made up of appointees who are in no way accountable to the electorate, who are hostile to being transparent with the public , and seemingly serve a constituency of one, given their obsequious attitude toward left-wing activist Ellen Chaffee who spearheaded the ballot measure campaign that created the commission.
Chaffee has enjoyed special access to commission members. During a 2020 meeting Chaffee was texting commission members during a public meeting, influencing their discussions in real-time in ways the general public could not. The commission members were reading her texts to one another during the meeting.
Dave Thiele, commission executive director, admitted to me at the time that the board members accepting those texts was “an error,” and supposedly that sort of back-channel communication between Chaffee, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2012, and the commission members has stopped.