BCI Investigates, McKenzie County Settles Corrupt Practices Case

North Dakota State Capitol

Back in December, we published an article that touched upon the issue of North Dakota’s Corrupt Practices law. In it, we highlighted examples of potential violations in relation to the City of Bismarck and its Mayor, Mike Seminary. Last month, we featured an article about the allegations from two of Bismarck’s city employees saying that Seminary was inappropriately collecting signatures in his bid for re-election as well.

While some people find these examples petty, there’s reasons behind the law. For example, in the situation regarding Mike Seminary collecting signatures for his petition, he was doing it on city property. This is prohibited according to the law. And as the two employees from the City of Bismarck pointed out, would Seminary’s opponent have the same degree of access to city property and employees?

One of the criticisms of the Corrupt Practices law is that it’s seldom enforced. But just a week ago, McKenzie County settled a case brought against Alexander City councilman Jerry Hatter. Apparently Hatter – who also happens to be a former Mayor of Alexander – violated the law. This occurred while he was participating in the city’s Old Settlers Days Parade last September. Hatter hung a bedsheet from a fire truck, with the words “Vote for Hatter” painted on it.

Hatter had lost re-election for Mayor in 2016, but was running to fill a vacated seat on the city council in a September special election– in which he won by two votes.

The decision to hang the bedsheet on the fire truck was not only questioned, but ultimately North Dakota’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) looked into the matter and charged him with a Class A misdemeanor for using state services or property for political purposes. Initially, Hatter entered a plea of not guilty, but McKenzie County State’s Attorney Chas Neff offered to drop the case if Hatter would resign his position– which he did.

If Hatter had been convicted of the charges, he would have faced up to a year in prison.

These examples of Corrupt Practices in Bismarck and Alexander aren’t isolated cases. Since we published our first article on the subject, I’ve had readers mention other situations they’re aware of that would violate this section of law as well.

To be fair, I’m certain many people don’t realize they’re violating the law when the more simple infractions occur. Nevertheless, I believe we need to do a better job in this state of raising awareness of the issue. Not only will doing so prevent future violations, but it creates a more even playing field for candidates and ensures that taxpayers are not having public resources used for “political purposes”.

A better understanding of the Corrupt Practices law makes all of us more informed and serves as a protection in the political process. I think that’s a good thing.

 

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.theminutemanblog.com/2017/12/07/city-of-bismarck-mike-seminary-corrupt-practices-and-stifling-dissent/
  2. http://www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/t16-1c10.pdf
  3. https://www.theminutemanblog.com/2018/02/12/did-bismarcks-mayor-mike-seminary-inappropriately-gather-re-election-signatures/
  4. http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/alexander-councilman-resigns-in-criminal-case/article_264b02b1-bc01-5329-af97-d6ec4498464a.html#utm_source=bismarcktribune.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail-updates%2Fbreaking%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=13A338D6F3E779DF6AE18D2E5BDFF4C4D670397D
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About T. Arthur Mason 607 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.