On Saturday January 7, I saw a Facebook post made by former North Dakota Representative Luke Simons, explaining that the ND District 37 Republican Committee was having a District reorganization meeting this morning at 10:00 a.m. at the Blue 42 Sports Bar & Grille in Dickinson. Luke Simons’ complaint was that he had not seen or heard any notice beforehand that this meeting was taking place, as if there was an attempt at secrecy going on.
I read the Dickinson Press newspaper every day. Most articles, notices, and announcements are repeated in the Dickinson Press newspaper for several days, but I never saw an announcement for the ND District 37 Republican Committee meeting. Nor did I see any announcement on Facebook, or anywhere else. I have to agree with Luke Simons, this does look like there was no notification published where ordinary citizens would see it, as if they didn’t want ordinary citizens to know.
This lack of notification, may in itself not seem so bad, but if you become aware of a few more elements involved here, it gets worse. Back on September 20, 2022 former ND Representative Luke Simons obtained a copy of the ND District 37 Republican Party by-laws. In reading these by-laws, Luke Simons discovered several elements which appear to be inappropriately exclusionary:
- In order to become a member of ND District 37 Republicans, and vote at District 37 Republican Committee Meetings, for such things as election of officers, you must first present yourself in-person at a meeting. But how can you present yourself at a District 37 Republican meeting in-person, if there is no Public Notice beforehand when and where these meetings will be held?
- When you present yourself at a ND District 37 Republican meeting, and pay your $60 dues, you can’t vote at that meeting, not until your application has been reviewed and approved at a later date after the meeting is over.
- A person’s ND District 37 Republican Party membership application can be rejected, at the discretion of the ND District 37 Committee.
- A person’s ND District 37 Republican Party membership can be revoked, for such reasons as “putting the Republican Party in a bad light”, at the discretion of the ND District 37 Republican Committee.
In my opinion, the absence of a clear Public Notice ahead of time when & where the ND District 37 Republican Committee meeting will take place, combined with the necessity of going to this meeting to be able to join the ND District 37 Republicans, not being allowed to vote at the ND District 37 Republican Committee meeting until the next meeting, if your application is approved at the discretion of the Committee, if your membership isn’t revoked at the discretion of the Committee, are barriers that attempt to block, control, and limit who participates in Dickinson politics.
Further, this ND District 37 Republican Committee meeting held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, was held at a Bar & Grille owned by the District 37 Republican Committee Chairperson, Mike Lefor. Chairperson Mike Lefor and the other Committee members might have felt comfortable at the Blue 42 Sports Bar & Grille, it may have been convenient for them, but I question the appropriateness of this location for several reasons:
What if a group of Republicans in Dickinson, say for example Evangelical Christians, did find out where the ND District 37 Republicans were having a meeting, arrived on time, completed their application for membership, paid their membership dues, were approved for membership, weren’t revoked, and had the intention of challenging Mike Lefor in voting for a new chairperson, or bringing opposition to a position Mike Lefor supported. Is opposition to Mike Lefor or his positions possible in Mike Lefor’s restaurant, with his customers, supporters, bar staff, wait staff, cooks?
It’s probably convenient and comfortable for the ND District 37 Republicans to have their Committee meeting at Blue 42 Sports Bar & Grille, owned by their Chairperson, in part because it’s just one more additional barrier to the Committee members being opposed. But in my opinion, this shouldn’t be, there can’t be such a strangle-hold on participation in politics in Dickinson.
Why am I reporting this, why am I pointing this out, why am I explaining this? Maybe because the Dickinson Press newspaper office in Dickinson is owned by the ND District 37 Republican Committee Chairperson Mike Lefor, and you aren’t going to hear about this anywhere else.
There is much, much more to the story about politics in Dickinson. This is just the tip of the iceberg. With the help of either the ineptitude or blind-eye of the Dickinson Press newspaper, there is so much going on in Dickinson that has crossed the line of small-town politics into what should be half a dozen different investigations by the North Dakota Attorney General or the U.S. Justice Department into legal impropriety.
A tangled web, but not so tangled that its strings can’t be seen for where they start, where they meet, where they end: Federal funding, State funding, County funding; Federal legislation, State legislation, County legislation; Advance planning, scheming, support, politicking, alliances, collusion, strong-arming, manipulation, quid-pro-quo, payoffs; individuals, businesses, organizations, associations, non-profits, committees, commissions, directors, employers, employees; all part of and involved in transactions that cross the line of legality, into illegal, improper, unethical activity.