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North Dakota tax commissioner to resign after being taken to jail for alcohol detox

Gov. Doug Burgum thanked the tax commissioner for his service in a statement Tuesday, adding that he applauds him "for having the courage to take the steps necessary to prioritize his recovery, health and well-being."

Ryan Rauschenberger _Vertical.jpg
Ryan Rauschenberger

BISMARCK — North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger has announced plans to resign on Jan. 3 following an incident that landed him at a Bismarck jail Monday, Nov. 15, for alcohol detox. Rauschenberger has struggled with alcohol addiction throughout his tenure in public office.

Jail records show that the 38-year-old was brought in for public intoxication at 1:31 p.m. on Monday, though it does not appear he was ever under arrest, and no charges have been filed.

Bismarck Police Officer Brandon Rosen wrote in a report that he found Rauschenberger "passed out, face down on the bed" in a Bismarck hotel room after he caused a disturbance among hotel staff.

Though Rauschenberger had rented a room in the hotel, front desk staff told him it would not be ready until later in the day, according to the report. An apparently intoxicated Rauschenberger then walked upstairs, entered a room he had not rented that was being cleaned by staff and shut the door.

Officers woke Rauschenberger and determined he was too intoxicated to take care of himself before taking him to the jail. The Bismarck Tribune first reported news of Rauschenberger's detainment.

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Rauschenberger did not respond to a voicemail Forum News Service left on his cellphone. A spokeswoman in Rauschenberger's office said he is taking an unspecified number of "personal days" to work on his recovery.

Gov. Doug Burgum, a fellow Republican, thanked Rauschenberger, for his service in a statement Tuesday, adding that he applauds him "for having the courage to take the steps necessary to prioritize his recovery, health and well-being." Burgum will appoint Rauschenberger's successor to fill out his four-year term, which goes until the end of next year.

Democratic-NPL Party Chairman Patrick Hart said he was "deeply saddened" to hear about the Monday incident involving Rauschenberger, adding that many North Dakotans can empathize with his addiction struggles. Hart said Rauschenberger's decision to step down was the right one since he could not fulfill his obligations to the public.

State Republican Party Chairman Perrie Schafer said in a statement "it takes a great deal of courage to show humility and to seek help" and thanked Rauschenberger for his service to the state.

The tax commissioner has a history of alcohol issues. In 2014, his first year in the position, Rauschenberger took a leave of absence and completed a 20-day inpatient treatment program in Minnesota.

He was arrested for drunken driving in 2017 when a breath test revealed his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. Under a plea deal, Rauschenberger was required to serve almost a year of unsupervised probation , obtain a chemical dependency evaluation and pay $1,250 in fines.

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He previously stated that he takes his recovery from addiction very seriously and said after his 2017 arrest that he would go back into treatment.

North Dakota voters elected Rauschenberger to a second term in 2018 with nearly 59% of the vote.

Those struggling with alcohol or drug addiction can seek help by visiting https://findtreatment.gov/ or by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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