NDFB President Lacks Consistency

This morning an article by Nick Smith of the Bismarck Tribune caught my attention. The headline read, “State Treasurer Defends Her Agency Before Lawmakers.” As you may know, a bipartisan resolution has been introduced in the legislature to eliminate the Treasurer’s office. The resolution follows Senator Tim Mathern’s 2016 campaign for Treasurer on the platform to close the office and transfer the responsibilities to other state agencies.

I’ll be up front; I support closing the Treasurer’s office. It is nothing against Kelly Schmidt, and I don’t think that is the intent of the legislators who introduced it either. I understand her passion in defending her work and the office she heads. Frankly, in the downturn of our budgets and for finding efficiencies, this makes sense.

But it wasn’t the resolution or Schmidt’s comments that caught my attention. No, it was a quote from North Dakota Farm Bureau (NDFB) President Daryl Lies. In response to lawmakers stating this will save taxpayer money in various ways, Lies had this to say, “Bring us your hard savings when you bring something like this to the table.” He seemingly scolds legislators as if eliminating duplication of services, reducing state employees, and utilizing technology won’t save tax dollars. Here is the full text from the Tribune article I want to focus on:

Bring us your hard savings when you bring something like this to the table. Said Lies, pointing out that during the last election the group heard from a number of members questioning the need for such a move.

NDFB and Lies like to claim their group is fiscally conservative, but they are apparently opposed to this form of taxpayer savings and shrinking of state government. Perhaps Lies doesn’t want the money saved from closing the Treasurer’s office to go towards covering the legal fees of the state to defend its anti-corporate farming law against the NDFB’s federal lawsuit. He claims he heard from members during the campaign they aren’t sure they want to close the Treasurer’s office. Unfortunately, he didn’t hear the message from 76% of North Dakota voters who defeated the corporate farming law he is now suing to overturn in federal court. Make no mistake, NDFB is suing you, and your tax dollars will be used in defense through the Attorney General’s office. Not only is the lawsuit spending your tax dollars, but it also spits in the face of local control. How conservative of them.

Kelly Schmidt received $8,000 from NDFB in her 2016 reelection campaign. That amount was the second largest contribution from NDFB falling just behind the $10,000 it gave to Jon Godfread’s campaign for Insurance Commissioner. Perhaps they’re merely defending their investment. Regardless of the motives, I’m tired of people running under the banner of being “conservative” until their self-interests requires otherwise.

Tyler Axness
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