Measure 7 Opponents Continue To Flout Campaign Finance Laws

Earlier this month I wrote about the North Dakotans for Prescription Facts, a group formed to oppose Measure 7 on the statewide ballot, not having filed any campaign finance disclosures with the Secretary of State nearly two weeks after the deadline.

When I contacted the chairman of the group – Fargo-area pharmacist Dave Olig – he told me he had “no idea” why the reports weren’t filed. The next day Secretary of State Al Jaeger told me that the group had begun to file their disclosures after I contacted them, and there would be no consequences for breaking the law.

“At this point, our goal is compliance,” Jaeger told me.

Flash forward to today, the anti-Measure 7 activists continue to complain about the amount of money Walmart is spending on supporting the measure, but they don’t seem to be following the law themselves.

For one thing, the folks at anti-Measure 7 campaign page have the total of Walmart contributions all wrong. “As of October 24th, Walmart had invested $7,003,325.60 in the Measure 7 campaign to get your YES vote,” they claim, but they’re reading the disclosures at the Secretary of State website wrong. They’re adding up what is a running total. In reality, the pro-Measure 7 side has received $2,516,500 (mostly from Walmart) and another $556,690.53 in non-monetary, in-kind contributions (e.g. employees working on the campaign) for a total of $3,073,190.53 as of the time of this post.

Which brings us to where the anti-Measure 7 people continue to violate the law.

Anyone who has walked into a pharmacy currently operating in the state – notably the Thrifty White Drug stores – can see pharmacy employees actively working to convince customers to vote no on Measure 7 just as Walmart has some of its workers urging a yes vote. Yet, nowhere can I find where the anti-Mesaure 7 people have disclosed these in-kind contributions.

Nowhere are the anti-Measure 7 people disclosing the time their pharmacists and pharmacy employees are spending on opposing Measure 7. You can see the disclosure report for Thrifty White Drug here, where they claim less than $64,000 in spending on opposing Measure 7, which is clearly false based on what’s going on in their stores.

Setting aside how you might feel about the requirement for such disclosures, the fact is the law requires them. Walmart and the pro-Measure 7 side are following the law. Why can’t the anti-Measure 7 side?

And at what point is there going to be repercussions for not following the law? I’m not certain the anti-Measure 7 crowd would have begin filing reports at all if I hadn’t called them on it, and the fact that they continue to attack Walmart for their in-kind contributions to passing Measure 7 while not disclosing their own contributions is hypocritical, to say the least.

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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