North Dakota’s Top Law Enforcement Officials Have Betrayed Us
With no possible defense, former state officials simply resign. That's not going to be good enough. Not by a long shot. Let me begin with the North Dakota Century Code.
54-46-07. Records not to be destroyed or removed. All records made or received by or under the authority of or coming into the custody, control, or possession of public officials of this state in the course of their public duties are the property of the state and may not be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed, sold, or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law.
Each state agency and political subdivision of this state shall notify the state records management administrator of unlawful actions affecting records. Public records that have been unlawfully removed must be returned to the office of origin or to the state archivist.
In an era where few political figures can be considered as beloved, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was able to draw respect not only in the political realm but also in connecting with people on a personal level. Except for Governor Doug Burgum, those two seemed to rub each other the wrong way.
Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
That's an old-timey quote that popped into my head when hearing about the audacity of top North Dakota law enforcement officials following the death of their colleague Wayne Stenehjem. They willfully and to me clearly violated the law.
Deleting entire official government email accounts must be unlawful
The Associated Press brought the story to light on Friday when they reported that Stenehjem's official email account had been deleted a day after his death in January 2022. This is where the corruption seems systematic. At that time Administrative assistant Liz Brocker requested an information technology employee to delete the account. She cited approval by then-Deputy Attorney General Troy Seibel. She said this in that email request.
We want to make sure no one has an opportunity to make an Open Record request for his emails, especially as he kept EVERYTHING
On Friday we also learned that Seibel's official email account was also deleted.
Incoming North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley intended to appoint his own deputy so accepted the resignation of Troy Seibel. Two months after he quit, Seibel's email account was also deleted.
Brocker said in a July 15 document that information technology contacted her to delete Seibel’s email account “as a matter of routine.”
That July 15 document was most likely Brocker's resignation letter which she turned in on Friday. So here we are...are we going to accept two resignations as penance for what seems to be a glaring disregard for the law from the top of the very office created to uphold it?