The Brighter Future Alliance has brought Washington style politics to legislative races across ND. The dark money group has allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars in select races throughout 2020. It is clear their aim is to support Republican candidates while attacking Democratic-NPL candidates. Where the money comes from remains a mystery.

As of October 12th, the Brighter Future Alliance has spent over $241,000 on the 2020 elections in ND. Expect that dollar amount to grow. The bulk of the money is being revealed in the final weeks of the general election. Because of the organization’s status, it is unclear where the source of that money originated. They do not legally need to disclose that information. Was it from area lobbyists? NDGOP activists? Was some of it from out-of-state special interests?

The Brighter Future Alliance money is mostly being spent through Odney Advertising according to Secretary of State information. The Chair of the Alliance, Pat Finken, was the longtime head of that advertising firm. He stepped away from his official capacity to lead Kevin Cramer’s 2018 Senate campaign. During his tenure, Odney was heavily invested in ND Republican candidates and causes. At that same time, the firm pulled in millions of dollars in North Dakota government contracts.

That pattern continues in ND. At the same time the Brighter Future Alliance pours money into legislative races through Odney, the ad firm received over a million dollars from ND in a government contract to push a mask educational campaign during the worsening pandemic.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, the Brighter Future Alliance was also the lead opponent to Measure 3. The measure would have made multiple changes to our elections. The Alliance successfully challenged the measure in court removing it from the ballot. There may be a bit of irony in the victory statement delivered from Finken to media outlets. “This outcome further demonstrates why we must not allow out-of-state special interests to tamper with our constitution and our elections to further their political agenda.”

Dark money groups aren’t new in American politics. They are the result of the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United. The robust involvement from these same political insiders in ND also aren’t new. They’re just choosing to use the type of politics North Dakotans dislike and are hoping it continues to go underreported in ND media.

Tyler Axness
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