I’ve been on the record for some time now calling for more and better disclosure for campaign finance details. I think the transparency is important for the public, and in this digital age I don’t see any reason why campaigns can’t file more frequent reports – which are submitted online these days in our state – with more details for the public to review.
So when a candidate can’t seem to comply with even North Dakota’s simple and, frankly, relatively lax disclosure laws it’s a little aggravating to me.
In the 2016 election cycle the last campaign disclosure deadline before the November election was on October 7. According to a search of the Secretary of State’s online database of campaign reports every single statewide candidate – from the three gubernatorial candidates to the folks running for the non-partisan offices like Superintendent and state Supreme Court – got their reports in on or before that deadline.
All except one. Democratic Insurance Commissioner candidate Ruth Buffalo. We are now 11 days past the deadline, and Secretary of State’s Office elections specialist Lee Ann Oliver says the candidate is still working on it.
“She has been contacted a number of times, she knows her report is due and she is working on it last time we spoke,” Oliver told me via email. “She also knows that after today the late fee goes to $100.”
According to Buffalo’s campaign manager Danielle Pinnick they aren’t entirely sure when the report will be submitted.
“The Secretary of State’s website has been giving us some issues in uploading those documents,” Pinnick told me during a phone call this morning. “We’ve been trying since October 6.”
“We do intend to get them up as soon as possible,” she added though said both she and Buffalo have been delayed by “so many other issues.”
Issues more pressing than complying with the law, I guess.
Pinnick blamed issues they’ve been having with the Secretary of State’s website, and that’s understandable to a point. I’ve been critical of that office’s sometimes unreliable and balky online offerings in the past. But the excuse rings hollow when every other candidate was able to get their reports in on time.
According to Pinnick the campaign might have their report in by the end of the week. Friday would mark two weeks since the deadline the rest of the candidates complied with, and just 11 days from election day.
Either Buffalo and her campaign are incompetent or they’re hiding something in the report (though I can’t imagine what that is given that Buffalo’s pre-primary report noted $0 in contributions).
Neither of those choices commend Buffalo to the office she’s running for.
As I noted before, both of Buffalo’s opponents have managed to file their reports on time. Libertarian Nick Bata filed his report on October 6, reporting no contributions. Republican Jon Godfread filed his on October 7 showing over $74,000 in contributions.