Given his meteoric rise to state office, one might assume North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger to be an exceptional administrator or perhaps a statistical prodigy. He is neither — it appears he gained his entree into politics by political largess rather than merit. And now it also appears he has a drinking problem.
Why do North Dakotans demand so much from themselves but so little from their political leaders? Is it too much to ask that someone entrusted with our most sensitive personal information conduct themselves as a professional and uphold the integrity of their office?
This much is true: A system of voluntary tax compliance works in direct proportion to the integrity of that system.
The Internal Revenue Service takes integrity seriously, mandating annual training on ethics and the avoidance of compromising situations. Does the North Dakota Department of Revenue mandate such training? If so, the lessons were lost on the boss. Rauschenberger is compromised. He will be compromised the remainder of his life. Whether or not our tax returns and tax system have been compromised remains to be seen.
Gov. Doug Burgum is to be applauded for his inclusive and transparent governance. But Rauschenberger is transparent only when caught.
Can North Dakotans trust Rauschenberger? Would you let a man addicted to drugs walk your dog? How about safeguard your tax information? How about drive a 4,000-pound vehicle around your spouse, children or grandchildren while intoxicated?
While we wish him the best on his long road to recovery, he has no business safeguarding our tax information or administering our state tax system. North Dakotans deserve better.
Dan Sobieck, Butte