JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Did Stenehjem Misuse State Funds? Investigation Sought

Earlier this week, North Dakota’s attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, joined 17 other Republican attorneys general from across the country, all members of the Republican Attorneys General Association, an organization that in its various incarnations, has provided Stenehjem with at least $160,000 in campaign funds, in supporting a lawsuit filed by his counterpart in Texas, Republican Ken Paxton. Paxton, who it is widely known is seeking a presidential pardon in advance after being indicted on various crimes,  petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overthrow the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States.

Not even a Supreme Court stacked with Donald Trump appointees would tolerate such a blatant attack on American democracy.

Here in North Dakota, a citizen who for many years has kept an eye on the state of our nation, as a journalist with a keen eye and a famous last name, decided on Friday afternoon that enough was enough. The attorney general of North Dakota, in the eyes of citizen Darrell Dorgan, had gone too far. Darrell filed a complaint against Stenehjem with the State Bar Association of North Dakota.

Darrell gave me a copy of the letter he sent to Stenehjem, with a copy to the Bar Association, on Friday afternoon. I have not contacted SBAND Executive Director Tony Weiler to get his reaction. It is a weekend. He’s probably hunting. Good for him. We’ll talk to him on Monday. There’s no hurry. The election is now over. Here is Darrell’s letter.

Dec. 11, 2020

Wayne Stenehjem

Attorney General

State of North Dakota

600 East Boulevard

Bismarck, ND  58505

Mr. Stenehjem:

This is a notification that I am requesting the North Dakota Bar Association conduct a formal investigation into the misuse of state funds for political purposes by you.

I will also request the Bar Association alter normal rules and open any hearing to the public. You are an attorney, the state’s highest law enforcement official, and a closed hearing would be viewed by many as a cover-up.

It was reported that you have joined efforts with 17 other Republican attorneys general seeking to have the United States Supreme Court overturn the recent national election and disenfranchise the votes of millions of citizens in four states. The election was lost by about 7 million votes and half-hearted, tainted, misleading actions by the loser of the election and his legal counsel has resulted in 35 similar cases already being thrown out of court.

The candidate (here-to-fore referred to as the “loser”) you have decided to back in your latest partisan legal effort won this state by nearly 65 percent of the votes cast. Simply put, we don’t have a dog in this fight. You have simply decided to cultivate good will with the “loser” and his minions by expending time, effort and state funding on an issue that doesn’t impact us and has already been decided. Actually, your actions are a bit like a fire hydrant chasing a dog, and frankly it’s not the first time.

You and I have a long and cordial relationship. We’re lucky, and it’s largely because we live in a democratic society, a country that is governed by the rule of law. By joining in this folly, you are violating the oath you took to our state and national constitution to uphold the law.

In a story by The Associated Press, you defend your activity by saying it cost the State of North Dakota nothing. However, you also claim there were thousands of phone calls to your office calling for North Dakota to join the suit. I called your office this morning to get your address and was asked without prompting, ”are you in favor or against our joining the suit with the Texas Attorney General”.

Thank you. You have now admitted a state employee was paid to answer the “thousands of calls” you received in favor of your questionable actions. Your employee who answered the call (British accent) just confirmed with her unsought question she is in fact working on this unfortunate matter.

For you to join this dubious legal effort, there had to have been other actions taken, too.  Phone calls, briefs researched and written, travel?  As of this minute, I’m formally requesting a complete list of who worked on the project, how much time was spent and the amount of funds expended.

I believe you have done the following in your quest for political adequacy among those who refuse to accept the outcome and violate our constitutional rights to a free election. The Supreme Court quest will add nothing new to the cluster of court decisions rejecting the perverted actions.

However, your efforts will have accomplished the following:

  • 1. Used state funds to pursue a strictly partisan political matter.
  • 2. Forced attorneys and others who work for the state to work on a partisan political matter. Come on, you aren’t writing these briefs yourself.
  • 3. Have involved the state of North Dakota in a political matter headed by the Texas attorney general who’s under federal indictment and looking for a pardon.
  • 4. Are forcing attorneys who work for North Dakota to associate and or work with lackluster individuals who have already lost in more than 35 similar fraudulent court fights brought by the “loser” and his marginal legal team.

As I said earlier, this was not your first time at bat with other Republican attorneys general. You, with 17 others, have a case before the Supreme Court that potentially could eliminate what is referred to by detractors like yourself as “Obamacare.” It is amazingly heartless to line up with fellow theorists to strip 20 million people of medical coverage during a pandemic. Please relinquish your state health insurance while this case is being reviewed and then call someone who will lose their insurance if you succeed and tell them why it doesn’t matter.

Again, simply another political decision with legal work done by attorneys who work for the state and are paid for with taxpayer money.

While my complaint will be decided by the Bar Association, I am formally requesting your office halt all activities in these matters. I am also formally requesting, under the state’s open records/open meeting statutes, the number of hours worked on both cases, amount of money spent for travel and or salaries and an immediate return of the money. I am also requesting other members of the Industrial Commission revoke your voting privileges until these issues have been decided.


Darrell Dorgan


7 thoughts on “JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Did Stenehjem Misuse State Funds? Investigation Sought”

  • Daniel Roy Rice December 12, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Jim, thank you for following this and other issues with such attention to detail while also making the posts fun to read. We all owe you for keeping these issues before us. Sadly, the newspapers and big media in our state are owned and controlled by conservatives and have little interest in investigative journalism. You are doing the work that they should be doing on behalf of the public so thank you, Jim!
    Dan Rice, Fargo

    1. Stanford Edwards December 12, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      Mr. Rice,
      The old cliche, ‘you took the words right out of my mouth’, could not be more appropriate in regard to your comment on this column by Jim Fuglie!
      I am so grateful for the amazing research he continually devotes to shining a light on the shady dealings of the Republican officials who are running the petrostate of North Dakota.

  • John Burke December 12, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    I’m surprised nobody has raised the Hatch Act and the North Dakota equivalent state law. This lawsuit was patently a political activity, which is prohibited.

  • Lorraine Dopson December 12, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks, Jim, and thanks, Darrell, for your support of democracy.

  • Tracy Doe December 13, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Thank you Jim for covering this important issue. I have written AG Stenehjem asking, who watches the watchdog when potential crimes have been committed. I was referring to conspiracy to commit a seditious act rather than misuse of funds. I understand that misuse of funds is a much easier hurdle and having someone withe stature of Darrell Dorgan pursuing this is heartening.

  • Lillian Bachmeier December 13, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you, I was furious when I saw ND joined this lawsuit. I phoned the A General’s office. They must have been getting lots of calls because she said, “Are you calling regarding the lawsuit?” Thanks for all your effort.

  • JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Stenehjem Investigation Under Way; Does Our Attorney General Have Blood On His Hands? – UNHERALDED.FISH January 7, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    […] few weeks ago, I shared with you a letter my friend Darrell Dorgan sent to the North Dakota Bar Association requesting the investigation after Stenehjem signed onto a […]


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