Wayne Stenehjem (R) was the attorney general of North Dakota from 2000–22, becoming the state’s longest-serving AG before he died of cardiac arrest in February 2022. Following his death, Stenehjem’s staff deleted large quantities of his emails, leading to allegations that they were trying to hide something from the public. His successor, Drew Wrigley (R), has resisted an external investigation into why the records were deleted rather than maintained in state archives as required by law.
Prior to service as AG, Stenehjem was a member of the state House of Representatives from 1976–80 and a member of the Senate from 1980–2000.
January 6, 2021
- Stenehjem is a former member of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). RAGA’s partner organization, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, funded robocalls encouraging Trump supporters to convene in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 to protest the outcome of the presidential election as Congress certified the Electoral College results.
The Big Lie
- Stenehjem and 16 other Republican attorneys general filed an amicus brief in Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed with the Supreme Court in which Texas alleged that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin violated the Constitution by changing election procedures through non-legislative means. The amicus brief supported the “independent state legislature theory,” which argues that a state’s legislature is the only branch of state government allowed to oversee elections. The Supreme Court quickly dismissed the case for lack of standing.
- Stenehjem attempted to justify signing on to the amicus brief by saying that it didn’t cost taxpayers anything. Although he admitted that the lawsuit was a “long shot,” he added that it was “worth it for the Supreme Court to weigh in and settle it once and for all.”
- A former aide to Stenehjem admitted that the AG’s decision to join the amicus brief was more a political stunt than a principled legal stance. In an email leaked to the press, the aide wrote: “the decision whether we join this amicus is more political than it is legal.”