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AG gets complaints against Sioux Falls mayor's event center fliers

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether has made it no secret that he favors a proposed events center in South Dakota's largest city, but some people are questioning whether he went too far by spending public money to create pro-center handouts.

Attorney General Marty Jackley told the media that he has received at least two complaints about the handouts and a PowerPoint presentation delivered by Huether during a Downtown Rotary gathering Monday. At issue is whether Huether violated a 1988 attorney general's ruling that says using public money to provide information is OK, but not to advocate for issues.

Jackley said he wouldn't give an opinion about the matter until he spoke with former Attorney General Roger Tellinghuisen, who penned the 1988 ruling, and Sioux Falls City Attorney Dave Pfeifle.

The incident has stirred citywide debate.

"Personally, I don't think it's right to use city funds unless you are going out and taking a neutral position and telling both sides," former Mayor Dave Munson told the Leader.

Huether, who has been mayor since May 2010, has been outspokenly in favor of the $115 million events center, which would seat 12,000. The center was among Huether's mayoral campaign platforms. It has been the focus of multiple public presentations and is up for a public vote Nov. 8.

Its development would impact all of South Dakota, as it would aim to become a regional destination point by drawing hockey, basketball, arena football, concerts and rodeos.

"I am going to advocate for this. I am," Huether told the Rotary crowd in his 30-minute presentation. "I think the right time to build was years ago."

The city's website includes video snippets of presentations in favor of the center. One, dated Oct. 4, 2010, is interspersed with PowerPoint slides that include messages such as: "The citizens of Sioux Falls are ready ... This exciting opportunity won't be easy."

After the Rotary gathering, Huether said that "things have changed in terms of the ability to be for or against." He referred questions to Pfeifle, who said that the presentation was for informational purposes, and any opinions expressed by Huether were personal.