Recently a group of 29 North Dakota lawmakers took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, which cost the taxpayers nearly $90,000.

You probably haven’t heard much about it since both Republicans and Democrats were on the trip and most of our media commentators are so thoroughly addled by partisanship they get frozen when the controversy is bipartisan. But the Minuteman Blog has a thorough report of the trip, and it raises some questions in the context of new ethics rules in the process of being implemented in our state.

More on that in a moment.

Per the records below the Nashville trip – which was to attend a summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures – cost $89,987.98 for meals, lodging, mileage, airfare, per diem, and miscellaneous expenses (there was some legislative staff on the trip in addition to the elected leaders). On top of that, the State of North Dakota paid $129,770 to the NCSL for membership dues.

That’s a lot of money, and while I’ve seen the NCSL be useful to the legislative process here in North Dakota in terms of providing data to inform policy decisions, I’m not convinced it’s over $200,000 worth of useful.

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Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.