North Dakota ‘ethics’ activists are out to shut you up


TOM STROMME/Tribune Alex Hilzendeger, left, and Norton Lovold hold a banner in front of boxes of petitions outside the state capitol in Bismarck on Monday morning as speakers Dina Butcher, left, and Ellen Chaffee address a crowd of 32 people. The petitions if approved would place a measure on the November ballot to amend the state constitution. For a video of Butcher go to

MINOT, N.D. — When Democrats lose, they don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their policy platforms or their messaging or their candidates. Instead, they try to change the rules.

When a Republican wins the White House, Democrats push to abolish the Electoral College. When conservatives are appointed to the Supreme Court, they start talking about court-packing schemes. If they can’t get a small amount of bipartisan consensus around a piece of legislation, they take aim at the filibuster.

(Republicans don’t have clean hands either, as evidenced by Trump World’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election with violence and power grabs, but that’s a topic for another column.)

Locally, that sore-loser attitude has manifested itself in a hyperpartisan group calling itself North Dakotans for Public Integrity which is funded largely by national left-wing groups and staffed locally by left-wing activists. Billing themselves as nonpartisan, a lie most of our state’s journalists haven’t bothered to explore, they successfully leveraged North Dakota’s very stupid initiated measure process to create an ethics amendment to the state constitution.

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