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Robocall witness: Charges politically motivated

MADISON (AP) — A man accused of helping a South Dakota Republican activist to make illegal robocalls before the 2012 election has testified that the pair set up the calls to target GOP legislative leaders they believed failed to support veterans.

Daniel Willard, who has clashed in the past with leaders in his own party, has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of violating South Dakota election law. Authorities accuse him of engineering robocalls without the required disclaimers identifying the sender.

Gary Dykstra testified Wednesday that he thinks the charges against Willard are politically motivated and said he would have preferred not to testify. Prosecutors gave him immunity from prosecution for doing so.

Dykstra's testimony was occasionally vague and he said he did not remember specific facts, the Argus Leader newspaper reported ( ).

Dykstra defended keeping identifiable personal information out of the robocalls.

"The fact that we're here today is proof, in and of itself, that some people don't like what we have to say," Dykstra said. "If you had the choice between listing your own physical address or not listing one at all, that's not a tough decision to make."

Defense attorney R. Shawn Tornow suggested to jurors that Dykstra was not a reliable witness.

The prosecution rested its case Wednesday, and the defense was calling witnesses Thursday.