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SD senator defends money from telecom PAC

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State Sen. Dan Lederman said he doesn't think there's news in the money his campaign and his political action committee received last year from the South Dakota Telecommunications PAC.

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Asked why he and two other senators were the only ones to get $1,000 campaign contributions (see list), while many others received smaller amounts, Lederman said: "I don't know why they decided to pick us."

Of 15 senators who received contributions last year, 12 voted against legislation in 2011 that the telecommunications PAC's source of money -- Free Conferencing of Long Beach, Calif. -- had opposed. Two voted for the legislation while one wasn't present for the vote.

As for the $250 payment in December that the telecom PAC made to his Rushmore PAC, Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, said the contribution was an honorable gesture by the telecom PAC's chairman, lawyer Scott Swier, of Avon.

Lederman said he invited Swier to attend a pheasant hunt Lederman planned near Elk Point with an Iowa congressman, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King.

"I knew he (Swier) was working on a federal issue and I had a federal delegate coming to the hunt, and I thought he (Swier) would have some interest," Lederman said.

Lederman said the actual cost per hunter was $250. He said Swier wasn't able to attend but still paid for his reservation. Lederman said some people paid the business directly.

"It was basically kind of a way to blow off some steam after the election," Lederman said.

Lederman said the $500 contributions made by Rushmore PAC to two Republican members of the Public Utilities Commission who will be deciding Swier's case weren't any different than other contributions made by Rushmore PAC to other candidates.

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