Board of Higher Education allows NDUS employees to lobby with tax dollars

by Jacqueline Dotzenrod

NDUS-300The North Dakota Board of Higher Education was walking a fine line in mid-October when it released a statement in blatant opposition to North Dakota Measures 1 and 2. However it danced right over it when it allowed its employees to campaign against the measures.

“The SBHE recently adopted a motion opposing Measures 1 and 2. The chancellor’s office has issued a press release and distributed “talking points” explaining the SBHE position. NDUS officers and employees, acting in their official capacities, may support the SBHE position (and oppose the two measures). They may use public funds and state facilities or equipment to distribute information supporting the SBHE position.”

Chancellor Bill Goetz claims that the aim is to convey information. However, with his statement, the SBHE not only adopted, but also campaigned for a position using public resources. While there may not be a state law, it does raise the question – is it ethical?

More than 15,000 North Dakota citizens signed the petition to get the measures on the ballot. Those 15,000 citizens pay taxes that support the SBHE. Is it right that their own tax dollars are used to campaign against something they support?

“State law does not prohibit in terms of conveying information so that the public at large is informed to what the consequences will be,” Goetz said. “It’s very clear based on legal opinion that information can be disseminated…”

While it is one thing to disseminate information, it is another to encourage the use of public funds, facilities and equipment to distribute a political agenda.

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  1. NDUS spreads political talking points on taxpayer dime « Just One Take

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