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Gant held hunt that gave contractors access to other secretaries of state

PIERRE -- Secretary of State Jason Gant confirmed Tuesday that he organized a pheasant hunt last year that brought together other secretaries of state and technology contractors his office has used.

As part of the arrangements, the two election-technology contractors contributed a total of $17,500 to his political action committee in order to take part in the event.

Gant issued the following statement in response to questions about the contributions:

"I hosted an event last year inviting Secretaries of State from around the country to showcase South Dakota's world class pheasant hunting, and to discuss upcoming election and corporate filing issues facing the nation. Sponsors had an opportunity to showcase their services. It was a great event for all involved."

Gant's political action committee, Committed to Victory, received $7,500 from BPro, a Pierre-based technology services firm.

The committee also received $10,000 from an Omaha, Neb., company called Government Systems, Software and Services Inc.

The company is part of a larger company that has worked closely with Gant.

Gant established the Committed to Victory committee in July 2010. Its stated purpose was "to elect Republican candidates."

The PAC received $11,600 in contributions prior to the 2010 general election, including $10,000 from Janet Cronin, of Gettysburg. She is the mother of Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg.

Most of the money eventually was shifted to Gant's campaign account for secretary of state.

By routing the money through his PAC, Gant was able to legally accept a much larger amount than the $4,000 maximum which state law allowed from an individual giver in a single calendar year.

The PAC's acceptance of donations from the two businesses in 2011 was another way to get around state bans against companies giving money directly to candidates.