Public officials in North Dakota have a duty to run their campaigns and perform their jobs with the highest ethical standards. North Dakotans deserve to be able to trust their appointed and elected government officials to have their constituents' best interests in mind. Further, there is an expectation that public officials will conduct the work on behalf of North Dakota with fairness and transparency.
Currently, North Dakota is falling far short of the rest of the nation with regard to ethical safeguards against abuses of power. In a recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, North Dakota received an "F" on its Corruption Risk Report Card.1 The study assessed transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states. North Dakota's dismal ranking landed it 43 out of 50.
While North Dakota has long relied on an "everybody knows everybody" honor system, the changing times leave open the possibility of exploitation. Many states -- New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana for example -- wait for large-scale scandals to erupt before taking reform measures. North Dakota has the opportunity to lead by example by proactively enacting measures that prevent bad actors from taking advantage of the system.