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State lawmakers restrict pocketing leftover campaign cash

PIERRE (AP) -- Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill Tuesday in part meant to restrict South Dakota politicians from pocketing the money in their campaign accounts.

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(The Daily Republic file photo)

PIERRE (AP) - Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill Tuesday in part meant to restrict South Dakota politicians from pocketing the money in their campaign accounts.

Campaign funds shouldn't be rolled into a politician's personal account, the Republican governor said in a statement. The new law goes into effect July 1, removing South Dakota from the short list of states including neighboring North Dakota where withdrawals are legal.

The wide-ranging measure Daugaard signed includes provisions saying that politicians can only use contributions for campaign-related purposes, expenses incident to being a current or former public official or donations to charities or other political campaigns.

Senate Democratic Leader Billie Sutton, who pushed for the law change, said that those new regulations are a lot "better than what we had in place prior - which is nothing." To allow people to just walk away with campaign funds is unethical, he said.

Daugaard, who is serving his final term, had over $1 million in his governor campaign account at the end of 2016. Spokesman Tony Venhuizen has said that after he leaves office, Daugaard would consider donations to charity and using it for political purposes.

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Former Gov. Bill Janklow in 2011, not long before he died, closed out his state campaign fund, which held more than $850,000, and transferred it to his personal account. The handwritten filing is difficult to read. His son, Russ Janklow, has said the money went to charities and the University of South Dakota Foundation.

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