Campaign money tricks leave voters in the dark
PIERRE -- Continuing our look into campaign finance loopholes that were used during South Dakota's primary elections for the Legislature, this week we'll consider un-sourced donations, independent expenditures, and partisan-financed independent c...
PIERRE - Continuing our look into campaign finance loopholes that were used during South Dakota's primary elections for the Legislature, this week we'll consider un-sourced donations, independent expenditures, and partisan-financed independent candidates.
The South Dakota Gun Owners political action committee, operated by Ray Lautenschlager of Rapid City, is an example regarding un-sourced donations.
The PAC reported two major contributions this year. Its parent group South Dakota Gun Owners gave $10,000. National Association for Gun Rights, based in Colorado, gave $8,000.
Where the $18,000 originated isn't disclosed.
The SDGO PAC reported spending about $3,180 on postage and printing, but for whose benefit isn't disclosed.
It contributed $5,500 to Republican legislative candidates Drew Dennert of Aberdeen, Rep. Dan Kaiser of Aberdeen, Rep. Lance Russell of Hot Springs, Sen. Phil Jensen of Rapid City, former Rep. Stace Nelson of Fulton, Taffy Howard of Rapid City and Travis Lasseter of New Underwood.
It also paid $6,000 to Front Range Consulting, a business that isn't registered with the South Dakota secretary of state office.
Other groups used un-sourced donations to fund their PACs that contribute to candidates and made independent expenditures in legislative contests.
One is the South Dakota Educators Political Involvement Committee, the campaign arm of the South Dakota Education Association, the labor organization that represents teachers and other school employees.
EPIC reported receiving $43,577 in 2015 from un-itemized contributions of $100 or less. Those donors don't need to be disclosed under South Dakota law and EPIC didn't name names.
EPIC this year donated $14,500 to legislative candidates - 15 Republicans and one Democrat - in the primary campaigns and spent another $2,700 in independent expenditures supporting five Rapid City Republicans: Rep. Jacqueline Sly, Sen. Bruce Rampelberg, Rep. Jeff Partridge, Sen. Alan Solano and Sen. Terri Haverly.
Another is the South Dakota Right to Life political action committee operated from Hoven. It reported $655 in individual contributions, $800 from the Aberdeen-area Right to Life group, and $3,500 from South Dakota Right to Life.
The original contributors of money weren't disclosed.
The right to life PAC spent $4,650 on independent expenditures in three primaries. The PAC supported Doug Post of Volga against Sen. Larry Tidemann of Brookings for a Republican Senate nomination; Rep. Pat Kirschman over Reynold Nesiba in a Sioux Falls-area Democratic Senate primary; and Republicans Dennert and Kaiser in an Aberdeen-area Republican House primary over Todd Kolden.
We also have legislative candidates running as independents that warrant watching. One is Eric Leggett of Sioux Falls, trying a second time for a House seat in District 15.
His 2014 campaign reports suggest he wasn't independent.
His donations came largely from current or former Republican legislators such as Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown, Arch Beal of Sioux Falls, Charlie Hoffman of Eureka, Brock Greenfield of Clark, David Anderson of Hudson, Isaac Latteral of Tea, Jim Bolin of Canton, Hal Wick of Sioux Falls and Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls.
Running a Republican as an independent in a Democratic-leaning district is how Sen. Jenna Haggar of Sioux Falls first won election, to the House, in 2010. She has since shown her real affiliation.
Campaign finance needs attention. Voters shouldn't be fooled.