No wrongdoing found in Commerce audit investigation


The North Dakota Department of Commerce today was found compliant with state law regarding alleged audit violations.

The Burleigh County State’s Attorney found no violations of criminal law by Commerce or its employees after thorough review of the reports and North Dakota Century Code.

“This is a great day for Commerce, confirming what we have known in our hearts for the last six months, but it’s also a sad day for North Dakota as there was absolutely nothing in the audit report that warranted this kind of wasteful scrutiny that has taken a great deal of emotional and financial toll on those affected,” Kommer said. “The team at the Department of Commerce has persisted and continued to do great work despite this abuse of process, serving as an example of the best of public service. We are pleased with the outcome and are focusing on getting North Dakota’s economy up and running again with the ND Smart Restart plan.”

 The state’s attorney also reported that there were no facts to support an allegation of any direct or indirect criminal activity, or any direct or indirect benefit to any public servant in the matter.

 “The Department of Commerce is and has always been focused on supporting businesses and workers across North Dakota, and is even more dedicated to providing assistance and results to the state during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Kommer. “We’ll continue to put the citizens of North Dakota first. I am confident North Dakota’s economy and community connection will emerge even stronger.”

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issued the following statement: “This reaffirms what we knew all along: that Commerce team members acted legally, in accordance with legislative intent, and with the best interests on behalf of our state’s citizens,” Burgum said. “The multiple audits in the past year that made hyped-up allegations of criminal charges toward state employees, including state librarians and members of our Commerce Department, have created an environment of real fear among state employees. This fear became a reality as hardworking, dedicated public servants had to hire their own legal counsel – at their own personal expense – to defend themselves against false criminal allegations that in any real-world audit would have been considered non-material classification errors and been mentioned in a footnote of an audit, versus being a headline in a press release.”