By Lucy Wyndham

UNDATED (NewsDakota.com) – Although first established in 2018, it wasn’t until earlier this year that the North Dakota Ethics Commission welcomed its first executive director.

The Commission is still working on finalizing procedures for dealing with complaints and penalizing guilty parties. However, under the guidance of its new director, it will be looking at ethical misconduct and deciding whether the commission will be responsible for dealing with the disputes associated with the funding of political campaigns.

At the start of the year, North Dakota’s legislative session was also discussing measures to deal with a range of ethical issues — from medical marijuana to gun-carrying.  However, at the heart of many ethical dilemmas is money and the often undue power and influence that it can yield. As a consequence, investment for individuals and the funding of organizations are now under greater scrutiny.

Secure and Ethical Investment for North Dakotans

To help its citizens invest safely and ethically, North Dakota offers the services of a department dedicated to financial investment. Through its work regulating offers and sales, the North Dakota Securities Department helps individuals make informed decisions about financial products. By monitoring organizations, businesses and individuals who offer investment products or financial advice, they are able to help potential investors avoid fraud and to invest wisely in line with their personal interests.

Increasingly, investors want to be in control not just of the security of their funds but also of the ethical nature of their individual investments. Financial companies can exert their considerable influence on other businesses, shareholders and government lobbyists, so it is important for many investors to know that they are supporting socially responsible funds that match their own principles. They may want to avoid funding companies that promote harmful products, such as guns or tobacco, or retailers that use sweatshops or create unnecessary pollution. With good financial advice and greater transparency, this is easier for them to achieve.

Eliminating Dark Money from Election Campaigns

Evidence of undisclosed donations in recent election campaigns came to light last year and was examined by the North Dakota lawmakers at the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee. Known as ‘dark money’ due to the secrecy that surrounds it, some contributions from non-profit organizations can be used to influence voters and elections without their sources being openly revealed or made public. In North Dakota state elections there is currently no cap to the amount that can be donated before disclosure.

However, a new draft bill by one of North Dakota’s State Representatives aims to compel organizations to disclose the origins of any donations they have received, and as a result create greater transparency in campaign funding. The bill will no doubt be of interest to the North Dakota Ethics Commission as it starts its long and arduous journey towards being passed.

Through the new North Dakota Ethics Commission, the state is looking to minimize unethical misconduct in local governing bodies and state elections. Local government infrastructure also provides support to its citizens who are looking to make safe and ethical investments of their own.

With this invaluable backing, and new legislative measures which could enforce financial disclosures in the future, North Dakota is on the way to becoming more financially transparent.