- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The State Bar Association of North Dakota has reached a tentative agreement with a national conservative watchdog group that sued on behalf of a Bismarck attorney over the use of member dues.

The issue is whether the state bar can spend member dues on political speech. Attorney Arnold Fleck turned to the Goldwater Institute after he discovered the bar had donated $50,000 to an advocacy group that supported a ballot measure last year that he opposed.

The Goldwater Institute said the state bar has 90 days to change its procedures for handling dues, and if the institute finds the changes satisfactory it will drop the federal lawsuit.

“We’re optimistic that SBAND will do the right thing,” institute attorney Jared Blanchard told The Bismarck Tribune.

Bar Executive Director Tony Weiler declined to discuss details of the settlement but acknowledged that the bar is reviewing its procedures.

“I think we will come out of it stronger and with better policies. I think we’ll be a better association for it,” he told KXMB-TV.

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