From The Left: Are North Dakota Republican Officials Too Protected?


Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton

Earlier this week, Rob helped to break a story about current North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger’s vehicle being involved in a one vehicle accident. As the facts came out, it was shown that Rauschenberger, who has been receiving treatment for alcoholism, had loaned his vehicle to somebody he met in treatment who proceeded to roll the vehicle.  It now appears Rauschenberger was drunk in the early afternoon on a Tuesday when he loaned the vehicle and that Rauschenberger has been missing a significant amount of time as he struggles with his alcoholism.

Now I want to make something very clear, my thoughts and prayers are with Rauschenberger during his time of need. Alcoholism is a disease that has affected many of our families, mine included, and I am fully aware how the daemons can take over one’s life. I do think it is fully possible for a recovering alcoholic to hold any office in this country, whether it is North Dakota Tax Commissioner or President of the United States and I believe that the effort to obtain and maintain sobriety can in fact be a very admirable trait in an office holder.

However, Commissioner Rauschenberger is not at that point yet. As I said, I hope and pray he gets there, however, I do think it is fitting to examine his appropriateness for office at this time.

However, I am also stricken by the fact that if not for his behavior and its consequences on Tuesday, voters would likely not have known he was missing a significant amount of time and failing to properly handle the job to which he is running for re-election.  Unfortunately, Rauschenberger is surrounded by a Republican led government that crates a cocoon of smiles and ambivalence which creates an illusion that all is well in Bismarck.

That same Republican cocoon of smiles and ambivalence re-nominated Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. Goehring was investigated by the Human Resources Department for inappropriate actions and later admitted to improper behavior towards female staffers. Goehring was re-nominated by a large margin of GOP delegates despite a right wing challenge from a North Dakota Farm Bureau backed Judy Estenson.  Since the NDGOP convention, Republicans have put Goehring back into their cocoon of smiles and ambivalence and are using it to protect his seat on the State Industrial Commission.

If I was not for Estenson and the North Dakota Farm Bureau, I doubt we would have ever heard of Goehring’s inappropriate behavior.

Two months from today, we will have an election in North Dakota. As a proud voter for Dem.-NPL candidates, it pains me to admit that we don’t have much of an election going on right now. The sad reality is that many people are pretty happy in North Dakota, and sadly that has led to very few incumbents for office facing serious challenges. I get it, North Dakotan’s are happy and they don’t see much need for change.

However, I wonder how much of that happiness with Government is a result of the Republican cocoon of smiles and ambivalence. I wonder how much more Government incompetence is happening in Bismarck that we are not finding out about.

The reality is the Republican domination of power in North Dakota has proven to be very effective at hiding and protecting inappropriate actions by Republican elected officials.  I wonder if Rauschenberger and Goehring are just the tip of the iceberg.