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Governor, Senate leaders choose voter-approved ethics panel

August 8, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A retired judge, a lawyer, a former mayor of a North Dakota oil boom town, a retired military general and a tribal college president were selected Thursday by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum and Senate leaders to sit on the state’s voter-approved ethics commission.

Burgum, Republican Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman each had to agree on the five people picked. The commission members will oversee the conduct of legislators, statewide officials, candidates and lobbyists.

The members are Ward Koeser, the former mayor of Williston; Ron Goodman, a retired district court judge from Oakes; Cynthia Lindquist, president of Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten; Paul Richard, an attorney and former executive vice president of Sanford Health in Fargo; and David Anderson, a retired brigadier general who led the first North Dakota Army Guard unit to serve in Iraq.

The governor and senators appointed Goodman as the committee’s temporary chair. Goodman and Lindquist were appointed to four-year terms, Anderson to a three-year term, and Koeser and Richard to two-year terms.

Nearly 70 people applied to serve on the commission. The selection panel held four meetings.

The commission is seen as key to implementing a constitutional amendment to overhaul North Dakota’s government ethics, despite the Republican-led Legislature’s successful push of its own bill that lawmakers believed met the requirements of the ballot measure that voters approved last year.

The commission may write its own rules for ethics reform, which is allowed under the constitutional amendment.

The citizen initiative that was framed as anti-corruption was spurred after the Legislature rebuffed repeated attempts for such a commission, saying lawmakers always have followed high standards of conduct.

Ellen Chaffee, who co-chaired the bipartisan group that sponsored the initiative, called the formation of the commission historic for North Dakota, one of only a handful of states that had no such panel. She thanked the governor and Senate leaders for what she called a process with “high integrity.”

“I think the commission is off to a wonderful start,” Chaffee said.

The Legislature approved nearly $520,000 and two full-time positions for the commission in the current two-year budget cycle. Commission members will be paid a daily rate of $181 when meeting, or the same as lawmakers.

The commission’s first meeting has not been set.

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