GRAND FORKS — North Dakota's Republican party has been fined $8,000 by the Federal Election Commission for failing to report a major campaign contribution within the required timeframe during the 2016 election.
The final resolution in the "negotiated settlement" case that involved the Trump Victory Fund's contribution of $413,729 to the state party was reached late last month.
State Democratic Party Chairman Kylie Oversen said "people have to be held accountable" and called for an independent audit of the Republican party's finances.
"This isn't the first time this has happened," she said Friday night, July 17.
She tied the FEC fine for the violation to the recent news that Fisher Industries of Dickinson, a major contributor to North Dakota U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer's and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong's campaigns, received a federal contract for $1.7 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border — a favorite issue for President Donald Trump.
"It smells of influence," Oversen said, who in a news release called it a "pay-to-play scandal that is about to take the American taxpayers for $1.7 billion."
Nick Hacker, of Grand Forks, who was treasurer of the party during October 2016 when the reporting violation was made, said Friday night that a staff member for the party didn't make the corrected report within the 30 days required.
Instead, he said, it was corrected within 45 days.
The reason the fine was in the thousands was the size of the Trump Victory Fund contribution, he said.
In a statement from state GOP Chairman Rick Berg late Friday night, he said, the party "self-identified the error in its reporting of a common fundraising practices used by both parties."
"We have proactively worked with the FEC over the past four years to resolve the matter, and today, it has come to a conclusion," Berg said.
The FEC said in its report that the North Dakota party's staff members have "attended conferences and webinars conducted by the Commission's Information Division since the violation to ensure future compliance."