Editor’s Note: This article features reporting based on information provided by multiple sources who offered critical information to the article on the condition of anonymity, and did so with reasonable fear of retribution for disclosing it.
Multiple Stark County officials have confirmed that longtime Stark County Commissioner Ken Zander has been accused of a serious human resources violation by a female county employee and that the matter was forwarded to Stark County Human Resources for action.
Human Resources Officials Tom Henning and Linda Krebs both declined to provide a statement concerning the allegations against Zander, nor to confirm that their offices received a complaint. Neither Henning nor Krebs would confirm or deny that an active investigation was pending on the matter.
Henning, the head of Stark County’s Human Resources Office and state's attorney for the county, declined to comment, citing North Dakota Century Code outlining that the disclosure of confidential information provided to the government is a C felony.
“The only thing I can tell you is no comment,” Henning said. “I believe someone has committed a felony because this is not about someone disclosing fraudulent government behavior, this is the reverse of that.”
To protect the identity of the complainant and/or sources, The Press will not identify the sources for this article.
Speaking with The Press, multiple officials confirmed that the serious allegations levied against Zander resulted in an internal HR no-contact order being issued between him and the alleged victim pending a complete investigation into the allegations. Court records do not indicate that Zander received a court directed no-contact order.
Speaking with The Press, Zander denied having been notified of any investigation surrounding him, saying that he was unaware of any allegations against him nor the nature of them.
“I’m not aware of [the allegations],” Zander said. “I was a personnel portfolio holder for 17 years and something like this would be something that I would have no comment on regardless of who was involved. I can’t possibly have a comment, personally, because I don’t know what it is even possibly about.”
Any administrative actions concerning Zander would be withheld in the matter until any pending investigation was completed, but sources say that the commission may not discipline a fellow county commissioner or remove him from office absent a criminal conviction of impeachment.
Given that the incident involves a Stark County employee, may be under investigation by HR, and could proceed to litigation — all parties have declined to comment on the record for the matter.
Some types of human resource violations are classified as unlawful conduct and are a form of discrimination, and as such is prohibited by federal and state law under NDCC Ch 14-02.4.
Stark County could be held responsible for the acts of its elected officials and as such are responsible to investigate any human resource complaints brought to the county’s attention.