No rules for reports on campaign finance info in MitchellAs Tuesday’s city election looms, voters are in the dark about who is funding the various campaigns, and to what extent.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
As Tuesday’s city election looms, voters are in the dark about who is funding the various campaigns, and to what extent.
Candidates for Mitchell city offices are not required to file campaign finance reports. There also is no reporting requirement that compels supporters or opponents of ballot measures — such as the current ballot question on adding a city manager to Mitchell city government — to disclose the source of their funds.
Dusty Johnson, of Mitchell and chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, hasn’t changed a previously expressed opinion that campaign disclosure reporting protects both the election process and those involved.
In 2008 and 2009, Johnson served in a volunteer capacity as co-chairman of Mitchell’s Focus 2020 Governmental Structures Subcommittee, a board that recommended city adoption of campaign finance disclosure requirements.
“I think that city government, just like state government and the federal government, should have reporting requirements,” Johnson said in a recent telephone interview.
“I don’t think money in politics is bad but, I think in this area, the more transparency the better.”
Johnson is not aware of any stateimposed efforts to change reporting requirements, and it’s his belief that change should not be a trickle-down phenomenon.
“I’m a big local-control kind of guy, and I’m very much in favor of transparency, but I would prefer to see that transparency come about at the local level rather than by fiat from Pierre.
“Hopefully, this is something they’d be willing to take action on after the election.”
At present, there is only one money-related form that city candidates must submit. They are required to submit a “statement of financial interest” in which each candidate discloses how he or she makes a living.
Candidates must list any enterprise which accounts for more than 10 percent of, or contributed more than $2,000 to, family gross income.
Candidates also must disclose any enterprise in which they control more than 10 percent of the capital or stock.
The candidates’ forms disclosed the following financial information:
• Ward 1: Ken Tracy, who is retired, disclosed that he receives a pension from the South Dakota Retirement system and also receives Social Security. His wife, Lois, works for Dr. Paul Miskimins and local CPA Pat Carlon. Tracy is running unopposed.
• Ward 2: Incumbent Dan Allen disclosed his occupation as a consultant for Big Green LLC and also listed Dan Allen Inc., which has investments in stock and farm land; Jim Rec Ag Inc., another farmland interest; and United Suppliers Inc., in which he or his family has dividend stock.
Challenger Tim Moon disclosed that he is employed in the juvenile division of the state Department of Corrections. Angie’s Daycare is also listed as a selfemployed source of income for his family.
• Ward 3: Philip Carlson disclosed that he earns a living as an associate attorney at the law firm of Tinan Smith & Bucher. His wife, Jean, owns Decadent Delights. He is running unopposed.
• Ward 4: Deborah Skibsrud-Bueber disclosed that she lives on $12,000 a year from a divorce property settlement that she expects to receive until her 65th birthday.
Greg McCurry disclosed that he works as a marketing manager for Santel Communications and his wife, Micki, teaches dance at the Linda Feterl School of Dance.
Marc Bernard disclosed that he works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and that his wife, Marilyn, teaches at John Paul II and at the Rockport and Rosedale colonies. Bernard also receives a military pension and farms with his father, brother and son on the family farm in Jefferson.