North Dakota

February 2: Corrupt Practices Act

Over the years, countless allegations of candidate misconduct in North Dakota have surfaced — some serious, some less so. For over a century, state laws have attempted to address candidate misconduct.

On this day in 1912, the Bismarck Tribune reminded voters that the new Corrupt Practice Act of 1911 would go into effect in a few days during a city bond election. The Tribune noted that there would be no transportation for voters from across the city to the polls like in previous years. The newspaper said, “The voters must go.” There is no campaigning on election day, nor any “choice cigars or drinks”. Quoth the Tribune: “Annihilate the thought.”

Over the years, countless allegations have surfaced related to North Dakota’s Corrupt Practices Act, which was revised in 1981. Here is a selection. In 1914, a Bowman County judge denied his election loss and accused his opponent of bribing voters, saying he would take less salary if elected. The case resulted in the first disqualification of a candidate under the Corrupt Practice Act and allowed the judge to retain his seat.

In 1965, several state senators denounced lobbyist pressure and intimidation related to legislation relating to rural electrification cooperative areas. One senator claimed “veiled threats” to oppose wholly unrelated laws and retaliation against lawmakers who were business owners.

In another episode, which ran from 1969 to 1975, several prominent North Dakota Democrats accused of embezzling Minot Bank funds for political gain were involved in state and federal court cases. It included state lawmakers, a former congressman, and other party leaders who were also bank executives and shareholders. The cases ended with denied charges or plea bargains and fines.

In 1982, Democrats scolded after a Republican lawmaker distributed more than 500 cartons of eggs in Towner County neighborhoods on the eve of a narrowly won general election. The boxes said “Egg experience counts”. Lawmakers said they got the idea from Democrats who gave out pumpkins and watermelons in previous elections! The Towner County Attorney investigated and found no wrongdoing.

Dakota Diary by Jack Dura


  • The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. February 18, 1911. Page 5: Corrupt Practice Act passed
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. February 2, 1912. Page 8: Voters must walk to the ballot box
  • The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. 1914, November 24: Can the candidate offer to repay his salary?
  • The Oakes Times. December 3, 1914. Page 3: The judge-elect is indicted
  • The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. 1915, February 2: The Mandamus case goes to the Supreme Court
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. February 4, 1915. Page 2: Judge Diehl still in office The Bismarck Tribune. 1915, March 11. Page 2: Totten finds Hanley guilty The Dickinson Press. March 13, 1915. Page 6: EP Totten falls out according to Judge Hanley
  • Emmons County Record. 1915, October 28. page 4
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1965, March 5th. Pages 1, 2: Senators complain about coercion tactics
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1969, December 10th. Pages 1, 2: District jury indicts eight in bank case
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. January 6, 1970. Page 3: Indictment in bank case deferred
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1970, March 10th. Pages 1, 2: Planned appeal against 7 dismissals by the Minot Court
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1970, March 11. Page 1: Bulletin
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. March 12, 1970. Page 3: Judge dismisses charges against Redlin
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. March 18, 1970. Page 12: Bank fraud scandal rocks North Dakota
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. May 14, 1970. Page 2: State appeal adjourned in Minot Bank case
  • The Miami Herald. 1970, August 1st. Page 4-D: 6 demos in North Dakota charged in bank case
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1970, August 1st. Page 2: Governor sees policy in bank charges
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1970, September 28. Pages 1, 2: Former directors starred Thompson
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1970, December 15. Pages 1, 2: Ex-bank employees are charged in court in Minot
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1971, April 9th. Page 3: Minot Bank trial likely in August
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1971, September 15. Page 1: Register considering tracking delay
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 13 November 1974. Page 24: Minot Bank Experimental Set
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1975, April 3rd. Page 5: First fine for western directors
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1982, November 23. Page 8: Alleged electoral irregularities
  • The Bismarck Grandstand. 1982, December 19. Page 6B: Lawmakers Acquitted
  • Legislative Council: History of the SB 31 (1911). Received on December 16, 2022
  • Legislative Council: History of HB 1225 (1981). Received on December 27, 2022

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