Represent Fargo Fighting Political Corruption in North Dakota
The group is bipartisan and is proposing an anti-corruption amendment be added to the state constitution
FARGO, N.D. — In all the years Phil Davenport has been on this earth, he says there’s one thing that never continues to change in North Dakota politics: corruption.
“People are using large amounts of money and incentives to influence our elections and influence what the electors are doing,” said Davenport, an organizer of Represent Fargo.
North Dakota received a “D–” grade for political corruption from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization.
Now an anti–corruption group called Represent Fargo is working to change that.
“In this one amendment that we’re working on, it will prohibit lobbyists from giving any money or any gifts or bundling any donations to any official,” Davenport said.
Represent Fargo collected signatures to get the anti–corruption amendment added to November’s ballot at their first meeting.
Members say part of the reason they believe it’s already looking like a bright future is because political corruption is a bipartisan issue.
“We all know it’s there and here’s a way we can possibly deal with it,” Davenport said.
Some say they also believe the support comes from people looking to get more involved in politics at both the state and national level.
“Right now, politics has gotten divisive. It’s important to have issues that people can get behind and get excited about,” said Whitney Oxendahl, Represent Fargo chapter leader.
Represent Fargo is the local chapter of Represent.Us, the United States’ largest grassroots anti–corruption campaign.
Organizers of Fargo’s chapter say now that the group has come to North Dakota’s biggest city, it’s the start of a long journey ahead.
“We’re talking ten or 20 years that we’re going to completely be tightening the screws on every election every time that we can to do this,” Davenport said.
If the anti–corruption amendment does end up getting passed, an ethics commission will be formed to monitor legislators and lobbyists.