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Published June 04 2012

Measure 2 opposition has big fundraising lead

BISMARCK - Keep It Local North Dakota raised more than half a million dollars this year to oppose a measure that would abolish property taxes in the state.

The group received about $600,000 in donations compared with the $21,760 raised by Empower the Taxpayer to support the measure, according to campaign finance reports.

Charlene Nelson of Empower the Taxpayer said many of their donations are $20, $30 or $50 contributions from grassroots efforts.

“By far, the majority of the people who are supporting this are citizens. They are not the special interest groups. They are not the well-funded out-of-state unions,” she said. “We knew this going in. We knew that we were going to be against well-funded, out-of-state big-moneyed interests.”

Supporters of the measure to abolish property taxes include a handful of Grand Forks hotels. C’mon Inn, Country Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express and Spring Hill Suites each gave $2,000. Fargo’s Treasure Island Coins gave $945.

Meanwhile, Measure 2 opponents say they’re pleased with the amount of money they have raised and with the diversity of contributors.

“We’ve talked with people from all walks of life and kind of brought people who don’t fall on the same side of issues together to try to defeat what we think is bad public policy for North Dakota,” said Jon Godfread of Keep It Local.

Big donations include $103,225 from the North Dakota Association of Realtors in Bismarck and $100,000 from the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. The North Dakota Chamber of Commerce gave $81,000 and the North Dakota Education Association gave $75,000.

Other big donors are the North Dakota Public Employees Association ($50,000), AARP in Washington, D.C. ($20,000) and North Dakota Farmers Union in Jamestown ($20,000).

The Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead, Great River Energy and Basin Electric each gave $10,000. The North Dakota Association of Builders in Bismarck gave $18,000 and the North Dakota Waters Users Association in Bismarck gave $15,000.

Voters will decide on the measure in the June 12 primary.

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.