'Impartial 5' named to the North Dakota State Ethics Commission

BISMARCK, N.D. - The final element of a four-part ballot measure from 2018 took a major step in changing North Dakota election oversight.

More than a month after a self-imposed deadline, Gov. Doug Burgum, along with Senate leadership, reduced a 69-person pool to the founding five members of the State Ethics Commission.

Making up the new commission: former district court judge Ron Goodman, who will chair the committee. He will serve with Cynthia Lindquist, David Anderson, Ward Koeser, and Paul Richard.

"We weren't trying to be bipartisan. We were trying to create a mini legislature; we were trying to make a non-partisan group of people with life experiences from across the state that would help guide this start-up," said Burgum.

The panel had only a few restrictions on who could serve: no one currently in elected office and no registered lobbyists.

The panelists regularly debated the weight of a candidate's political affiliation; even debating whether or not the candidate was a lobbyist.

"I would defend that, and argue that they are not lobbyists even though they have come to the legislature and advocated for their area or for their constituents," Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner said.

Throughout the elimination process, one message was echoed: the committee believed they wouldn't make a mistake picking any of the finalists.

The staggered terms will begin September 1, pending their acceptance.