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More Illegal North Dakota Republican Corporate Cash? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 21:32

There's a political organization in Grand Forks, North Dakota, called "Grand Forks Republican Women" (GFRW)  About two months ago, GFRW held its annual "golf outing" fundraiser. From the many photos they've posted on their Facebook page, it looks like it was a pleasant enough event with lots of pleasant-enough people having fun.  While browsing through the photos the other day, a couple photos stood out to me, as did a "thank you" they posted, acknowledging their sponsors.

Here's the first photo that jumped out at me:


I don't know if you can see this, but just below the Republican Party logo elephant in the lower right-hand corner it says, "THANK YOU To Our Sponsors."  Above, obviously, are the logos for the GF Republican Women's event sponsors.  The sponsor list surprised me as it's illegal for corporations to sponsor political organizations like this.  Several of the sponsors appeared to be corporations.

A corporation, cooperative corporation, limited liability company, or association may not make a contribution for a political purpose.

NDCC 16.1-08.1-03.5(1)

Violation of that provision appears to be a Class A misdemeanor.  (NDCC § 16.1-08.1-07)  (We've been through this before, recently.)

I took a few minutes to look all of them up on the North Dakota Secretary of State's website, and at least 12 of the sponsors are corporations.  Another two or three might be corporations, but I'm just not certain.  Another one or two are probably individuals, and their sponsorship/donations are probably okay.  

Here's a list as it appears on the GFRW's Facebook page:

Abby at Pure Image, Vaaler Insurance, Prudential Crary Real Estate, Studio South: Lynn & Amber Stegman, Culver's, Wild Hog, Speedway Bar & Grill, Plains Chiropractic, Lifetime Vision Center, Waterfront Kitchen & Bath, abooboo design, Jordyn James Photography, Automated Financial Systems, Hong Farms, Sadie's Couture Floral and Event Design, Ferguson Books and Media and Valley Dairy!


Some of the sponsors' "corporateness" is obvious.  Vaaler Insurance.  Prudential.  Some of the other ones are not so obvious.  For example, "Studio South" -- the logo you can see one or two logos above the elephant -- shows up on the SOS website as being a "trade name" owned by "LDS, Inc.," but ""Amber at Studio South" shows up as a Trade Name owned by "Amber Strand."  So, with the "Studio South" logo on the "thank you" sign, but the text thank you on Facebook thanking "Amber at...", it's a little hard to tell whether the LDS corporation was a sponsor, or just Amber. Either way, at least 12 of the sponsors of the Grand Forks Republican Women's golf tournament absolutely are corporations and appear to have made illegal campaign contributions to the Republican political organization.

I'd suggest "someone should do something about this," but what can anybody do when the corrupt party that has a stranglehold on this state breaks the law?  

Not much.

Another photo caught my attention, too. This one.


Can anybody guess why that caught my eye?

Maybe Mike Marcil can explain all of these away for us, too.  Maybe Republican Women didn't get anything (i.e. money or in-kind contributions) from the event sponsors.  Maybe they're also waiting for invoices from someone.

I probably need to point this out, too: I would be the last person in the world to tell you that I think everybody who breaks the law is a bad person. I know a lot of really great people who have broken the law in their lives. In most cases, I don't hold it against them. But, at the same time, our jails are full of poor people and minorities who've broken laws many of us might view to be fairly insignificant. If we're going to throw poor people and minorities in jail for committing Class A misdemeanors, I don't see why we shouldn't fill the jails with Grand Forks Republican Women when they commit Class A misdemeanors.  I don't see why we shouldn't hold wealthy and powerful people to the same absurd standard. Some might even argue they should be held to a higher standard.

But that's all hand wringing.  Republicans are above the law in North Dakota.  They can and will do what they want and will not be held accountable until there is balance in our government.  

Deal with it.

Comments (6)add comment

Stanton said:

Do the Democrat fundraiser have corporate sponsors or are they only privately funded? Is this only the Republicans that are getting sponsors for fundraisers like this?
August 29, 2013
Votes: +0

Chet said:

Interesting question...
Here's what I can tell you about this: While I'm not aware of Democrats accepting illegal corporate sponsorships like this, you should also keep in mind that -- even under North Dakota law -- there are some exceptions to the prohibition of corporate donations to political parties. Three examples that come to mind include: (1) corporations can donate towards a "building fund" for state parties, and (2) corporations can provide certain sponsorship donations for state party conventions. There may be others, but those are the ones I know about. I know the Republican Party has taken advantage of the "building fund" exception. I don't believe the Dem-NPL has (yet). I'm pretty sure both parties take advantage of the convention exception.

The third one is that corporate PACs can make political contributions, but that's a little different because it's not really the corporation making the donation. Instead, the corporations just secretly give illegal bonuses to their employees and illegally direct the employees to donate that money to the company PAC, which the company secretly and illegally controls.

Wait. Did I just say that out loud?

There's also a new, very-confusing law that allows "incidental committees." Don't ask.

And, no; donations given by employees or owners of corporations who use money they get from the corporation... those aren't illegal. Because donating money to political organizations = speech, apparently, and we can't prohibit free speech. And corporations are people. And up is down. And the sun sets in the East.

So if you hear of a political party accepting corporate donations, the first question you should ask is whether the donation falls under an exception. If it doesn't then you're likely looking at an illegal corporate campaign contribution.
August 29, 2013
Votes: +1

MFT said:

Is the fact that GFRW is not actually party itself make the statute inapplicable to them?
August 29, 2013 | url
Votes: +1

MFT said:

Disregard previous comment. Looking at the GFRW's website, I found:
Grand Forks Republican Women is an active women’s political organization that was founded in the early 1960?s. Our mission is “To encourage growth, loyalty and financial support for the Republican Party and the ideals for which it stands.”
So, now, my questions are: Do you think the AG will do anything about this? Could YOU, as a private citizen, file some sort of qui tam action?
August 29, 2013 | url
Votes: +0

Chet said:

Yep, MFT...
Also, check out the NDGOP's page for them. Click here.
August 29, 2013
Votes: +0

nimrod said:

Is the ND statutory ban unconstitutional under Citizens United?
August 30, 2013
Votes: +0

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