Prairie Country PAC Fighting War Against Imaginary Liberals

Prairie Country PAC is fighting civil society, or the Civil War, or something:

Our values, rights, and way of life are right in the crosshairs of a left leaning press and an ever increasing liberalized Democrat state party. We need to stand united to defeat common core, stop any new tax hikes, and stand up to a Federal Government ever so keen on violating State’s rights [Rich Hilgemann, campaign fundraising e-mail, Prairie Country PAC, 2015.07.01].

Stop this, stop that—does this Aberdeen-based PAC have any positive governing agenda?

We also need to stop playing defense on the 2nd Amendment. Let’s start expanding YOUR gun rights! You shouldn’t be taxed for exercising a constitutional right. Let’s pass “permitless” or constitutional carry in this state like many others already have [Hilgemann, 2015.07.01].

Heck yeah, more guns! If there’s anything that will help us pay teachers, recruit workers, clean up lakes and streams, and protect land rights from foreigners using eminent domain, its more guns!

Prairie Country PAC claims credit for orchestrating District 3 legislative candidate Burt Elliott’s defeat, although they speak of their victory with odd obliqueness:

Last year Prairie Country PAC was a liberal Democrat’s worst nightmare, we exposed his liberal record and explained to voters why he was wrong for South Dakota. Against all odds we handed this liberal politician his first ever electoral loss!

…P.S. Last year Prairie Country PAC helped defeat a liberal Democrat ensuring victory for a conservative hero in the legislature [Hilgemann, 2015.07.01].

Prairie Country PAC keeps using that word liberal. I do not think it means what they think it means. Review PC PAC treasurer Ken Santema’s account of a District 3 candidate forum, and the only arguably “liberal” positions you hear Elliott staking out are Medicaid expansion (which Santema somewhat agrees Republicans are opposing purely for partisan reasons) and higher user fees for road repairs (which the Republican Legislature went on to pass in the 2015 session).

Burt Elliott represented a somewhat less gerrymandered District 3 from 2001 to 2008. As I review the bills he prime-sponsored, I’m not finding a raging liberal agenda:

  • 2008: HB 1158 sought to exempt certain schools from consolidation requirements.
  • 2007: SB 114 sought to loosen the rules on the address petition signers must write on petitions (mostly to help nursing home residents, college students, and little old ladies who prefer to be known as “Mrs. John Smith”). SB 203 sought to move more state money into K-12 education without raising taxes. A couple other bills tried to appropriate attorney’s fees to compensate an unjustly fired state worker.
  • 2006: Elliott successfully pushed HB 1178 to create trusts for taking care of animals. He also wanted to allow judges to terminate support payments for divorcees who start shacking up or get pregnant by new partners and rename Lake Henry Dam (which would only have been liberal if he had proposed a Lakota name).
  • 2005: Elliott proposed both the animal trusts and the divorce-support rules.
  • 2004: Elliott quite conservatively tried to check Governor Mike Rounds’s liberal spending with HB 1115, which would have capped increases in state spending. He also proposed funding the mentor teachers program and bonuses for veterans of the global war on terror and other recent conflicts (which would include PC PACker Hilgemann!), although he proposed no new taxes to fund those plans.
  • 2003: Ah! This must be the raging liberal year Hilgemann is talking about: Elliott proposed including photos and raising fees on concealed pistol permits, plus taking away the sales-tax exemption for advertising. Elliott tried to give tax refunds (conservative?) to promote wind power (liberal?), raise K-12 funding (liberal), and prohibit insurers from owning auto repair businesses (regulation of business… yeah, probably liberal, because outfits like Prairie Country PAC are anarcho-capitalist tools of the corporate colonizers).
  • 2002: SB 89 empowered school boards to directly refer excess property tax levies (“opt-outs”) to a public vote. In a way, you could argue that’s a conservative check on the power of school board liberals to raise taxes. SB 100 sought to jigger the K-12 funding formula to keep a little more money in the per-student allocation. SB 100 did not ask for increased taxes.
  • 2001: SB 96 would have lowered the capitalization rate used in determining agricultural income value from 8% to 5%. Hmmm… that sounds like a way to lower property taxes.

Prairie Country PAC isn’t really looking at Burt Elliott’s political positions or legislative record in this fundraising pitch any more than they did with their hit pieces in 2014. They’re just blowing the dog whistle, much like fellow conservative Rushmore PAC.

Unlike Rushmore PAC, Prairie Country PAC at least isn’t blatantly lying about its effectiveness. Whereas Rushmore PAC claims as victory a win by an unopposed and mostly silent city council candidate, Prairie Country PAC mixed it up in a real campaign. Prairie Country PAC funneled $4,521.22 from the Brown County Republicans and $3,392.00 from the fringe-right South Dakota Gun Owners plus a smattering of individual donations into hit pieces on Democratic legislative candidate Burt Elliott and his questionable residency status.

Given their concern for electoral and fiscal integrity, I would expect Prairie Country PAC to next crusade against the out-of-state liberal invaders who have used their bogus claims of residency in Meade County to create a town and usurp the power to impose new taxes on everyone at the Buffalo Chip campground.

But I get the impression that Prairie Country PAC is less concerned about such principled political stands and intelligent discussion of real policy impacts and more concerned about simply throwing meaningless labels to forward the SDGOP’s “politics” of personal attack and power preservation. Alas for the Republic and Republicans alike….

29 Responses to Prairie Country PAC Fighting War Against Imaginary Liberals

  1. Do they hold their fundraising events in dark alleys?

  2. Richard Hilgemann

    You missed increase min wage, repeal death penalty, repeal right to work, you got him on guns, but why not highlight Burt’s hatred of gays to prove how conservative he is? Signed onto 2004’s HB1289, which if I’m reading correctly invalidates gay marriages in this state. (Yes that was Al’s bill but we expect that out of him.)
    Don’t fret too long Cory I’m sure soon enough my PAC will do something you agree with. An increase in teacher pay is something I could see myself supporting. But I’ll tackle one issue at a time. Also something you may not know about the race is how Burt went down to the Republican office created a scene, called to harass me, and even called the police to try and have them harass me for investigating his residency issue. The “nightmare”probably isn’t an understatement.

  3. Thanks for bringing that offensive, anti-gay 2004 HB 1289 to our attention, Rich! It appears to have had a number of Democratic sponsors—Bartling, Gassman, Hargens, Lange, Kloucek. Grrr! I hope Elliott’s viewpoint has changed since then.

    But that bill (the only one you’ve bothered to document) only makes my point further: your hollering of “liberal” appears to be meaningless, or at least far too great a simplification of an apparently complex set of political positions. It’s a dog whistle, useful only for activating inattentive donors, not people really paying attention to specific policies and the real interests of the state.

    Even you: you claim to be a conservative, but here you express possible support for raising teacher pay. Should I scream “liberal!”, or should I welcome that openness to solving a real policy problem? Your PAC would do the former; people with a genuine interest in pragmatic problem solving do the latter.

  4. Kathy Tyler

    It isn’t always what you are fighting against, but how you are fighting. I would hope that this group addresses issues in a professional, truthful manner–no innuendoes, lies, quotes taken out of context, nasty, misleading postcards and radio ads, etc.

  5. Richard,

    Is Rick your uncle?

  6. Richard Hilgemann

    Rick is my dad Lynn.

    Now Cory we all know that how we identify politically is based on a majority of our views. Or can I call you conservative for fighting common core? Speaking of let me know if you can think of anything I might be able to do to help in that endeavor.

  7. Richard,

    Rick your dad is a good guy!

  8. David Newquist

    The notion of what a liberal is comes largely from the figments in the Limbaughesque mind, a creation woven out of wisps of malice. There was a time when social psychology was considered a discipline which studied human interaction and how groups invest belief in those wispy figments. The word “liberal” has become like the “n-word.” In many usages, it names an attitude in the users, not any descriptive factors based on fact. South Dakota has become a state dedicated to defense against figments. They lurk in attics and come to form in the night to creep into bedrooms and to steal guns and force healthcare on sleeping innocents. We need a national holiday to honor the heroes who defend us against figments.

  9. Deb Geelsdottir

    What is the answer to this question I’m quoting from Cory’s post:

    “Stop this, stop that—does this Aberdeen-based PAC have any positive governing agenda?”


  10. “conservative hero”?

  11. Leslie, yes, I thought “conservative hero” to describe Rep. Dan Kaiser might overstate the case. I understand Richard is advertising, not testifying or writing coherent philosophy, but I’d be interested to hear what qualifies Rep. Kaiser not just as a conservative (i’ll grant that) but a conservative “hero”.

    Richard, we could also use some firmer support for the “liberal” claim against Elliott. I don’t think I “got him” on guns. Tell me, even if we accept your apparent definition of “liberal” as “coming to take my guns!”, how does adding a photo to the concealed weapons permit take anyone’s gun?

    I’m a liberal, meaning I believe in maximizing liberty. Rich, I don’t plan to take any of your guns, as long as that liberty doesn’t infringe on other people’s liberty. But there is a reasonable argument that allowing too much liberty on gun ownership leads to a loss of liberty by those who get shot by those guns. Ask the families of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. South Dakota Gun Owners is a radical fringe group who deserves our scorn because they refuse to look at both sides of the liberty ledger: they think the only valid liberty claim is their selfish desire to own and carry any gun, anywhere, anytime, and the oversimplify and demonize any candidate who challenges that orthodoxy, without regard for rational discourse, truth, or other far more pressing problems reducing South Dakotans’ liberty (far more liberty is lost when we lose our best teachers to Minnesota than when Gooney McBuckshot has to pause for five seconds to get his picture taken for his pistol permit).

    South Dakota Gun Owners and its PAC arm Prairie Country are a liberal’s nightmare, because they shut down intelligent discourse about shared values and broader issues that could maximize liberty and threaten to turn every election into a macho-BS gun show.

    (Common Core is still crap, Richard. Focus on how Common Core takes away teachers’ liberty to teach. Work on arguments about how the focus on standards and standardized tests takes away student liberty—not just the liberty to take electives and the liberty to learn but the liberty to explore more diverse and specific career options—by devaluing other non-core courses, making it easier for cash-strapped schools to divert resources to test prep, and drop arts, music, foreign languages, vo-tech classes, and other non-tested classes.)

  12. bearcreekbat

    Cory, that is one of your better posts – thanks!

  13. mike from iowa

    In a red state,run by wingnuts and virtually no opposition-you were able to go against the odds and win a seat. WOW!! Super Hero deluxe. I am suitably impressed-or not.

  14. Roger Elgersma

    So when right wingers so adamantly believe there is right and wrong, then why are they so against a right way to consistently educate kids. Why do they think that one level of government is categorically right and another wrong. Both are government, both are even democracy. Why are they against taxes. When Jesus was confronted with a tax he had not paid before, some thought he would evade it. He did not, he paid it with no debate on whether the church leaders should pay tax. He did not debate if the government was Christian enough. Believing in God does not mean that you have to become selfish.

  15. barry freed

    One side charges us for our 2nd Amendment Right, the other seeks to eliminate it altogether. They pretend to be at odds, but have the same goal in the end: erode our Rights down to what they think they should be.

    “There, that should be clear and succinct enough for even the dullest amongst us!”
    (Benjamin Franklin quote)

  16. Mike, Republicans winning in Aberdeen get a little extra credit: they face a tradition of Democratic support and larger numbers of Democrats than in other counties/districts.

    Barry, “shall not be infringed” does not resolve every Second Amendment question. Every right has limits. Banning firearms from courthouses, bars, and schools is not an infringement of a right; it is a recognition of the proper boundaries of that right. It’s just like the prohibition on shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Punishing such improper, dangerous speech does not infringe on First Amendment rights; such punishment recognizes that in that case there is no right to infringe.

  17. barry freed

    There is no law against shouting “fire” in a theater. There is also no ill intent automatically associated with carrying in a Courthouse, bar, or school, no “clear or present danger” created, hence no justification for these unconstitutional laws banning guns.

  18. Roger Cornelius

    It is ironic when I hear a conservative South Dakota republican say “no new taxes” or the George Bush the elder commandment, “read my lips, no more taxes”, when that is exactly what SDGOP governors and legislators have been doing for the past 40 years and republicans keep electing republicans that raise taxes and fees.
    Note: One of the recent taxes that went into effect on 7/01/15 was the cost of renewing your drivers license that went from $20 to $28.

  19. mike from iowa

    Roger,if memory serves,didn’t Hitler Weasel Bush rename taxes-user fees-so people wouldn’t notice they were paying more?

  20. larry kurtz

    mfi: you crack my face. Georg Hitler Weasel Bush, Georg Weasel Bush and Ivan Ilyich (Jeb) Bush.

  21. “barry carry” in a courthouse-your intent is to kill someone if circumstances suggest you are being threatened there.

    pretty simple. your right to defend yourself vs. everybody else’s right not to have to fear a person coming in off the street carrying or concealing a weapon.

    same with any public place or private place of business inviting customers. if you are ahead of me in line at safeway and you are carrying, i am not completing my purchase on the chance you will hurt someone.

  22. mike from iowa

    As for shouting fire in a crowded theater,there is no law that covers that,however if one was to purposely incite a panic by falsely telling fire i wouldn’t give a plug nickel for that person’s chance of surviving a civil lawsuit and death threats as a result.

    I have stated before,in Texas women aren’t allowed to have feminine hygiene products(tampons() in the statehouse because wingnuts are afraid they will be used as missiles against them. But,John Whacko is free to carry an assault weapon into the bldg. and intimidate Libs.

  23. Actually, Barry Freed is right: “shouting fire in a crowded theater” is dicta, not part of a written decision. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used the phrase in an analogy discussing a free speech case that got overturned 40 years later.

    Are there laws against joking about bombs and packing a pistol at the airport?

    There are definitely laws against defamation. The First Amendment is most certainly not absolute. Neither is the Second.

    Prairie Country PAC’s claim that Burt Elliott is a “liberal” remains far from absolute. It’s just a dog whistle.

  24. bearcreekbat

    I don’t usually disagree with you Cory, but I believe someone yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater is South Dakota could be successfully prosecuted under SDCL 22-18-35 for disorderly conduct. I would rely on the following language that makes it a crime when “Any person who intentionally causes serious public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to any other person, or creates a risk thereof by: . . . (2) Making unreasonable noise; . . . .”

  25. Whoa! Good catch, BCB! I stand re-corrected. Maybe the better example is standing under my neighbor’s window and shouting at 2 a.m. The First Amendment is still most definitely not absolute.

  26. barry freed

    High fives! A fascist tool, Disorderly Conduct, used as a catch-all to subdue protesters, trumps the 1st and 2nd Amendments. Only the 1st does not say: “Shall not be infringed”.

  27. hahaha-i remember well being drunk, outside, up in the Idaho mountains, pickup running, 3-4 a.m., loudly, sloppily gabbing to the drummer i was in love with, until the awoken, angry next-door neighbor brought me back to reality. a long time ago, far, far away… . . . .

    barry carry-huh? do i agree with you?

  28. well barry/carry, the “catch-all” part but none of the rest of the bullsheit….

  29. Hang on, Barry. I think we can agree that there is a difference between legitimate protest and making statements that endanger public safety via false alarm.

    But really: does “shall not be infringed” really render the Second Amendment uniquely impervious to the balancing with other rights and public needs that we take for granted with every other Constitutional right? Are you really positing that your right to carry a firearm is absolute?