Port: Term limits measure is about profits for the political industry

It's no coincidence that the term limits campaign has made tens of thousands of dollars in payments to a political consulting company, called Revolutions Delivered, owned by campaign chairman Jared Hendrix.

PHOTO: Term Limits ballot measure petition circulator
In this reader-submitted photo, a circulator for a proposed constitutional amendment that would implement term limits in North Dakota uses signs that falsely claim the petition is about term limits for Congress.
(Courtesy photo)

MINOT, N.D. — Bismarck businessman Kent French is a legend when it comes to citizen activism. In the late 1980s he led the charge to defeat tax hikes pushed by the last Democratic governor elected in our state. He even got term limits for North Dakota's congressional delegation into state law, though it's unenforceable due to a Supreme Court opinion finding that only the U.S. Constitution can set the terms for service in Congress.

Yet French opposes a term limits measure that's on the ballot this cycle, and told me as much during an interview on a recent episode of my podcast . He says it goes too far. He says it will create chaos in the Legislature, where lawmakers already are part-time public servants who can only meet in session for 80 days every two years.

He also argues that the measure itself is not a product of North Dakota-based citizen activism. He says it was put on the ballot by big-money, out-of-state interests.

The financial disclosures filed by the term limits campaign show he's spot-on accurate on that last point.

In 2021, a national group called U.S. Term Limits, spent $269,000 on their ballot measure, including a $20,000 contribution to the ballot measure campaign and another $249,000 in independent expenditures on things like signature collectors, marketing, etc.


So far in 2022, the group has spent $586,665.96 on the term limits campaign, including $39,400 in direct contributions and another $547,265.96 in independent expenditures.

This spending, from an activist group based in Washington, D.C., totaling some $855,665.96, makes up almost the entirety of the funding for the term limits campaign. According to reports filed by the Secretary of State's Office, just barely more than $6,000 in donations have come from actual North Dakotans.

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Term limits are an idea promoted to North Dakotans by the Washington, D.C.-based politics industry, and to what end?

Supposedly term limits protect us from the evils of incumbency by denying us the right to continue voting for elected leaders we like, and we must like them because we keep voting for them.

Term limits create churn at the ballot box. That's very profitable for the sort of people who do politics for a living. It's no coincidence that the term limits campaign has made tens of thousands of dollars in payments to a political consulting company, called Revolutions Delivered, owned by campaign chairman Jared Hendrix.

Hendrix, a political professional, is making money by promoting a ballot measure that will, in turn, create more jobs for more political professionals by restricting who you can vote for.

Mr. French, when I interviewed him, called this measure an "anti-North Dakota" proposal put on the ballot by people who are just trying to sow chaos.

Can you say that he's wrong? Chaos on the ballot, after all, is very profitable for political professionals.


This humble columnist would likely profit from term limits. Political drama gives me more to write about. But I'm more interested in good leadership than drama.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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