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Rounds' PAC aids Republicans and offsets SDEA assistance to Dems

Mike Rounds

PIERRE -- Politicians hoping to win high office down the road have long spread money to other campaigns along the way in the hope of engendering good will. The latest is former Gov. Mike Rounds.

The "Peter Norbeck" political action committee that Rounds, a Republican, founded after leaving office at the end of 2010 might be the single-most important financial force in South Dakota's 2012 elections.

The Norbeck PAC distributed $120,500 this fall to Republican candidates for the Legislature and the state Public Utilities Commission, as well as some other Republican political committees, according to its pre-general election financial report.

Rounds is exploring a 2014 candidacy for U.S. Senate.

Combined with two Republican committees for senators and representatives, the trio of PACs has spread more than $200,000 to GOP candidates this fall.

The Norbeck PAC currently is operated by one of his former chiefs of staff, Rob Skjonsberg, and by Jeff Erickson, the now-retired chief for Great Western banks.

"We raised the money in a relatively short period," Skjonsberg said Tuesday, adding there was "great support and lots of enthusiasm."

For comparison, the South Dakota Education Association's PAC reported distributing $56,200 this fall to candidates, including $2,200 apiece to 22 Democrats. SDEA often has been the major financial backer of Democratic candidates for the Legislature.

The top Norbeck contributions were larger than SDEA's donations this year and were bigger than has been typical in South Dakota.

Forty-three legislative candidates received $500 from the Norbeck PAC. Sixteen received $1,000; one got $1,500; and more than one dozen who received larger amounts. They include:

Brian Gosch, $2,000; John Chicoine, $3,000; David Lust, $3,000; Al Novstrup, $5,000; Kent Juhnke, $4,000; Art Fryslie, $3,000; Jim White, $5,000; John Meyer, $2,000; Justin Cronin, $2,000; Larry Tidemann, $5,000; Mark Johnston, $5,000; Russ Olson, $3,000; Phyllis Heineman, $2,000; Tim Rave, $4,000; Shantel Krebs, $3,500; Tim Begalka, $3,000; Bill Van Gerpen, $3,000; and Mike Vehle, $2,000.

The Norbeck PAC also gave $4,000 apiece to Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen, the Republican candidates for Public Utilities Commission; and $4,000 to the campaign committee of state Attorney General Marty Jackley, a Republican, who isn't up for election until 2014.

The Rounds for Governor committee shifted $33,000 from his old state campaign account to the Norbeck PAC this fall. The former governor previously had contributed $50,000 when he started the PAC last year. In addition, the Norbeck PAC raised $86,500 from individual contributors this fall. The minimum donation was $1,000.

Many gave larger amounts, including $10,000 apiece from Stan Adelstein, of Rapid City; David Bockorny and Miles Beacom, both of Sioux Falls; and $5,000 apiece from Paul Schock, Chad Hatch and Craig Rickert, all of Sioux Falls; and Erickson.

A $10,000 contribution also came from Capitol Bancorporation of Britton.

Krebs donated $4,000, which offset the $3,500 her campaign had received from the Norbeck PAC.

The Norbeck PAC reported $70,687.89 cash remaining at the time of its filing last week.

Republican candidates also received a big boost from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee operated by Sen. Russ Olson, of Wentworth; and Sen. Corey Brown, of Gettysburg. Their PAC donated $72,000 to Republican candidates for Senate seats.

Some of the largest amounts were Chicoine, $8,000; Novstrup, $6,000; Juhnke, $7,000; Fryslie, $3,000; White, $4,000; Meyer, $4,000; Tidemann, $5,000; Johnston, $6,000; David Omdahl, $4,000; Rave, $5,000; Deb Soholt, $3,000; Begalka, $3,000; Van Gerpen, $8,000; and Vehle, $2,000.

The GOP House Future PAC operated by Rep. David Lust, of Rapid City; and Rep. Justin Cronin, of Gettysburg; reported making $32,250 in contributions to Republican candidates for the state House of Representatives.