We need a guard dog, not a pitbull!
Case in point. The Department of Commerce Audit from last year.
During the difficult financial times of 2017, North Dakota legislators needed to made drastic cuts. The Commerce budget was cut 42%. Think of that. Try running your business or home on 42% less income. The challenges to keep the good economic development programs going while supporting Governor Burgum’s initiatives were immense.
The legislature asked for a reduction in staff. There were -- and are -- great people working in Commerce. Unfortunately, we were missing required skills, calling for hard decisions. We consolidated research, let some very good people go, and hired for skill sets needed to advance programs that reflect our changing world. This resulted in a significant staff turnover. Key employees from the private sector took pay cuts to support our great state.
Along comes Josh Gallion, the State auditor, acting like no previous state auditor. Did he suspect a crime or did he just want his name in the paper? The Commerce employees that I worked with were honest and worked with integrity. No funds were missing, all funds went to the purpose directed by the legislature. Minor procedural errors were found.
The damage? Since last fall, several Commerce employees had to hire private attorneys on their dime to defend themselves, putting them in an unfair, financially challenging position. This case drags on and on, for months and months, putting these professionals through hell. Gallion started this mess and he is responsible to CLOSE IT! Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem also let this case go unresolved for months. These Commerce professionals are not criminal, but are treated like criminals! The way this audit was handled is unacceptable and unprofessional.
Government needs more state employees from the private sector with real-world working professional experience to help our state to be the best it can be.
Gallion’s actions send clear signals to professionals in private industry to stay away from state government as false charges are likely to enhance political careers, and it could cost a bundle in attorney fees to prove your innocence against those false charges.
Just because he is an incumbent and a Republican, this should not be a reason to reelect this man.
Jay Schuler, a founder of 15 companies, served as commerce commissioner from February 2017 to October 2018.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!