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Ethics Commission hosts training on conflict of interest rules

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Ethics Commission hosts training on conflict of interest rules

Mar 03, 2024 | 6:00 am ET
By Mary Steurer
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Ethics Commission hosts training on conflict of interest rules
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The North Dakota Ethics Commission will host two free webinars about state government conflicts of interest. (Kyle Martin/For the North Dakota Monitor)

Are you a public official confused about conflict of interest rules? Or maybe just interested in learning more about government ethics?

The North Dakota Ethics Commission will host two free webinars about state government conflicts of interest in March.

The first, scheduled for March 14, will focus on the complex history of conflict laws in North Dakota. It will explore how disagreements over how to prevent officials from using their positions for personal gain led to controversial statutes, voter-initiated ballot measures and Supreme Court cases.

The second presentation, slated for March 28, will focus specifically on how to comply with the Ethics Commission’s conflict of interest rules.

Declaring conflicts of interest rare for North Dakota lawmakers

During a Wednesday meeting, Executive Director Rebecca Binstock said the presentation is meant to clarify when officials need to share that they may have a conflict of interest, and what the correct process for addressing a conflict looks like.

“People understand that they need to disclose something or that they may need to disclose something,” Binstock said. “What happens after that always gets a little bit gray.”

The rules, adopted by the Ethics Commission in 2022, only apply to certain people in state government, including lawmakers, lobbyists, candidates and elected officials.

Both webinars start at noon and are expected to last about an hour and a half. There will be a short question-and-answer session at the end of each presentation.

They both also count as credit hours for continuing legal education for North Dakota attorneys.

The events are free and open to the public, though registration is required. To sign up, visit the commission’s website.

Lawmakers and other officials under the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction are not required to attend, Binstock said in an email.

The Ethics Commission was established by a constitutional amendment approved on the ballot by voters in 2018. That amendment also gives the commission oversight over the areas of lobbying, corruption, transparency and elections.