Measure 1, the Hollywood-bankrolled “ethics” amendment North Dakota voters cast their ballots for last year, was backed by a campaign that spent a lot of time vilifying lobbyists.

But now lobbyists, including one who works for the Measure 1 campaign, are applying to serve on that commission. A loophole in the measure means they probably can.

Section 3, subsection 3, of Article XIV (created by Measure 1) of the state constitution now reads thusly:

"The ethics commission shall consist of five members, appointed for four-year terms by consensus agreement of the governor, the majority leader of the senate, and the minority leader of the senate. No member of the ethics commission may hold other public office or be a lobbyist, candidate for public office, or political party official."

The loophole is the tense of that prohibition on lobbyists serving in the ethics commission. It’s present tense. Meaning you cannot be a lobbyist while you serve on the ethics commission. But the timing of lobbyist registrations and ethics commission appointments means people who lobbied this year, in the most recent legislative session, could also serve on the ethics commission.

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Lobbyist registrations expire June 30. The ethics commission will be appointed by Governor Doug Burgum, in consensus with the Senate’s Majority and Minority leaders, by July 1.

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