Lawyer says state has a "compelling interest" to reduce appearance of corruption via IM 22
PIERRE -- The Anti-Corruption Act approved by a majority of South Dakota voters last month is constitutional and doesn't hamper the existing employment arrangements of legislators or their family members, according to the state attorney general's...
PIERRE - The Anti-Corruption Act approved by a majority of South Dakota voters last month is constitutional and doesn't hamper the existing employment arrangements of legislators or their family members, according to the state attorney general's office.
A group of more than 12 legislators and some spouses, led by Senate Republican leader Blake Curd of Sioux Falls, want state Circuit Judge Mark Barnett to stop parts or all of Initiated Measure 22 from taking effect.
Their lawsuit receives its first hearing Thursday afternoon in Hughes County court. Assistant Attorney General Steven Blair has filed state government's defense of IM 22.
"Reducing the appearance of government corruption is a compelling government interest," Blair told the court in the state's response.
Blair said there isn't a retroactive intent in the $100 limit on gifts to a legislator or family member from a lobbyist or a group that employs a lobbyist. Jobs they already have shouldn't be affected, he said.
The publicly funded democracy credits system for legislative and statewide candidates is legal as well, Blair said. It relies on an appropriation of $9 per registered voter. Blair said the appropriation is legal too.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard in his budget speech Tuesday to the Legislature said he wouldn't recommend the $5 million needed in the year ahead for the Democracy Credits program.
Daugaard said the backers of IM 22 should apologize for what he described as the poorest-written law he'd seen in his public life.
But Blair said IM 22 has a lot of court decisions that support its features.
Contrary to the legislators' claim, Blair said new Ethics Commission doesn't have to be attached to a state agency. He listed the South Dakota housing development authority, the state Board of Regents and the state Board of Elections as similar examples.
Seeking to intervene in the case is the Sioux Falls law firm of Heidepriem, Purtell and Siegel on behalf of South Dakotans for Integrity, the group that sponsored IM 22, and its leaders Darrell Solberg, of Sioux Falls, and Don Frankenfeld, of Rapid City.
Representing Solberg and Frankenfeld is John Hinrichs of Sioux Falls. Other names on the intervention motion from the firm are Heidepriem and Kasey Olivier. Attorney James Leach, of Rapid City, is also on it.
The legislators are using the Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith firm of Sioux Falls with James Moore as their lead attorney.