BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Gov. Doug Burgum is asking the state’s attorney general to appoint outside lawyers to handle a possible lawsuit over his appointment to fill a legislative seat that was won by a candidate who died before the election.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is at odds with Burgum over the appointment of Washburn coal executive Wade Boeshans to the District 8 seat won by David Andahl, who died Oct. 5 from coronavirus complications.
Stenehjem said that Burgum’s appointment on the day following the election was “both inaccurate and untimely.” Burgum defeated Stenehjem in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2016.
Burgum has asked Stenehjem to appoint three attorneys with Vogel Law Firm in Bismarck to represent him “on legal matters” related to the appointment.
Burgum has said that “the only legal and constitutionally viable way to fill the District 8 seat is through gubernatorial appointment.”
Stenehjem disagrees, saying “the Constitution provides that the Legislative branch, not the Executive branch, has the authority to fill a vacancy in the legislative assembly.”
Andahl and fellow District 8 House candidate Dave Nehring were top vote-getters Nov. 3 for the two open House seats over a pair of Democratic candidates in the sprawling rural district north of Bismarck.
The governor told the attorney general he had not hired or retained legal counsel, and he requested Stenehjem make the appointments by noon on Wednesday, according to records obtained by the Bismarck Tribune.
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