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Rick Olson, Published August 03 2012

Intrigue scuttles petition

The latest effort to change North Dakota’s protectionist pharmacy ownership law has died an unremarkable death.

The group known as North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare in April suspended its efforts to get an initiated measure on ending the pharmacy ownership law onto this year’s general election ballot. The group suspended the current effort, citing a lack of financial support and petition signatures for its decision not to move forward.

The group had faced a July 18 deadline to file some 14,000 petition signatures with the secretary of state’s office. Accordingly, North Dakotans will not be voting on a measure to change the state’s pharmacy ownership law this year.

Various media outlets that have reported on the end of the pharmacy ownership law petition drive efforts haven’t shared the whole story. I was privy to quite a lot of what may be referred to as inside information. (Full disclosure: I was a volunteer for the petition drive this year. I was also a volunteer with a similar effort in 2009-10 that ended when a paperwork snafu caused that measure to be declared invalid.)

It has been speculated around North Dakota that former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Duane Sand abandoned the pharmacy ownership law campaign in order to focus his attention on his quest to wrestle the Senate nomination away from the state’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rick Berg, in the recently concluded primary election. This speculation is false.

The campaign’s consultant Patrick Davis as well as Sand, were both forced out of the campaign organization by at least two would-be donors to the North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare effort. What business is it of anyone about who is or who is not involved with a campaign? What happened is unfair to these two gentlemen.

Olson, Fargo, is a regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary and opinion pages. Email rickolson@cableone.net