North Dakota attorney general says no taxpayer money for ballot measures

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July 7, 2009

BISMARK, North Dakota: Yesterday, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said state law does not allow for taxpayer funds to be used in ballot measure campaigns without legal authority.[1] The attorney general's legal opinion comes at the request of three Republican legislators and years of confusion on state law that states the prohibition of the use of taxpayer resources for any “political purpose.” Until yesterday "political purpose" as defined by state law refers to a candidate or political party.[2]In previous elections, public employees have used taxpayer resources to fight a ballot measure that would have, for example, cut income taxes in the state.[3]

However, the attorney general's decision states that "a public body may not generally expend public funds to advocate a position on a ballot measure...courts have held that public bodies have implied power to make reasonable expenditures for the purpose of giving voters relevant facts to aid them in reaching informed decisions in voting on the ballot measure."[1]

Earlier this year, the legislature defeated a bill that would have made it illegal to use state services on a ballot measure campaign.[2]

See also

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* North Dakota Income Tax Cut (2008)