Bender: Dead AGs tell no tales

A book by former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman reveals that Attorney General Drew Wrigley, North Dakota's U.S. attorney at the time, proposed strategies to “Stop the Steal” that went to Sen. Kevin Cramer and from there straight to the White House.

Tony Bender
Tony Bender
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When I was a teenager, our Luther League occasionally booked a skating rink. There was one certainty. Eventually, we'd all be obliged to do the Hokey Pokey. It goes like this:

You put your right foot in

You take your right foot out

You put your right foot in

And you shake it all about


You do the hokey pokey

And you turn yourself around

That's what it's all about

I've never seen North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley on skates, but he clearly knows the dance. A book by former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman reveals that Wrigley, North Dakota's U.S. attorney at the time, proposed strategies to “Stop the Steal” that went to Sen. Kevin Cramer and from there straight to the White House.

Wrigley, a Trump appointee tasked with upholding the law, sought the reversal of a lawful election (right foot in) with a fake elector scheme. Of course, he now admits Biden legitimately won, and golly, he never considered backing anything undemocratic (right foot out) no matter what the evidence suggests.

Hint: It suggests otherwise.

The Republican attorney general said he's very confident he "did not and would never advocate for anything other than strict adherence" to state and federal laws.

Relax, he's back on the side of law and order, but he's walking a political tightrope that'd give the Flying Wallendas pause. Wrigley, like other notable North Dakota Republicans, wants it both ways. They want to impress the MAGA crowd by owning the libs, illegally if need be, but they'd prefer to avoid legal scrutiny stemming from their actions. They're on the Trump Train when it's on track, but when it's careening off the rails, they're poised to jump. They're just unsure about the timing. When they do they hope you'll forget they were aboard the Coup-Coup Train.

You might. History won't.


Meanwhile, there's yet another stench wafting out of Bismarck. Wrigley, in the unfamiliar role of nonpartisan law enforcement officer, is hiring an independent party to investigate the late Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's shady $1.7 million cost overrun on office space leased from Rep. Jason Dockter, treasurer of Stenehjem's last campaign.

Your tax dollars at work.

People helping people.

Republicans enriching Republicans.

Stenehjem's Pandora's Box of illegally deleted emails sure might come in handy now. Initially, however, Wrigley claimed nothing could be done to retrieve them. With modern cyber-forensics and technology? Heck, I sneezed the other day and my Roomba blessed me.

Turns out there was a big misunderstanding. Actually, revisionist Wrigley couldn't wait to investigate, and he thought the state IT Department was doing just that. They just got their wires crossed, and dagnabbit (slaps forehead), he forgot to follow up. Eight months after the crime. Now that there's been plenty of time for those files to be overwritten on servers, the investigation's finally going to begin.

Question. Why wasn't anyone charged in the willful destruction of those public records? Wrigley could beat Usain Bolt to a microphone but in a race to investigate Republican malfeasance he couldn't outrun a glacier.

When information's withheld from the public, it engenders speculation, and you'd be naive not to consider Stenehjem's inability to resist right-wing lawsuits. They were Stenehjem kryptonite. Are we to believe he sat out “Stop The Steal?” If he were involved, who might those missing emails implicate?


It looks like a cover-up. Walks (at a snail's pace) like a cover-up. Smells like a cover-up.

And it's stinkin' to high heaven.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.

Opinion by Tony Bender
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column from North Dakota for Forum News Service.
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