BISMARCK — Sen. Kevin Cramer said he has met many Air Force veterans who moved to North Dakota, fell in love with a woman and then fell in love with the state. One of them now has his name on the door of the state auditor's office, and he would like to keep it that way.
State Auditor Josh Gallion announced Thursday, Oct. 10, his intention to run for reelection in 2020 at the Republican state headquarters in Bismarck. During the announcement, Gallion touted his office's work over the last three years and reaffirmed his commitment to "effective and responsive government" and transparency.
The state auditor is responsible for scrutinizing the finances of state agencies and the public university system. North Dakota is one of 24 states where voters elect the state auditor.
Cramer described Gallion as a hard worker who has diligently served as the state's internal watchdog. Several Republican state officials, including Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger and Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, were also present at the announcement.
Gallion, a Spokane, Wash.-native, broke onto the political scene in 2016, when he became the first state auditor not named Bob Peterson since 1973. Gallion’s emphatic style cuts in contrast with the father and son duo that preceded him.
The Republican has occasionally stepped on the toes of fellow party members in the state Legislature and governor’s office since assuming the office. At issue with many public officials is Gallion’s tendency to publicize the findings of his office’s audits, which some say could needlessly embarrass public officials.
Gordy Smith, a retired audit manager, previously told Forum News Service that ridicule of public institution was "being highlighted too much."
Legislators also passed a law in April that restricts the state auditor from launching performance audits without lawmaker approval. These audits differ from others in that they closely examine only specific function of a state agency.
Prior to the law’s passage, Gallion had been initiating performance audits at a much higher clip than his predecessors. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued a decision in June stating that the law was likely unconstitutional, but lawmakers urged Gallion to comply until a court had ruled on the measure.
Gallion said Thursday that he would support striking down the law and said he will follow Stenehjem's opinion and ignore the law.
"The attorney general is my attorney and I will follow that advice," Gallion said.
Gallion’s critics in the Legislature say the audits should only be performed as necessary to preserve funding, while supporters hold the auditor up for his willingness to take on the most powerful figures and agencies in the state.
One such supporter is Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, who was one of only 20 legislators to vote against the law, said he was glad to see Gallion running again.
“[Gallion] has done an outstanding job, and I look forward to four more years,” Becker said.
A spokesman for Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who signed the bill into law, declined to comment on Gallion’s bid for reelection.
This story has been updated to correct Gallion's stance on launching performance audits without lawmaker approval.