In our discussion of Aberdeen-based Prairie Country PAC’s postcard attacking Caleb Finck for wearing women’s clothes (a mailing PCPAC has since scrubbed from its Facebook page), some readers got me wondering if PCPAC had coordinated its attack with Finck’s primary opponent, PCPAC-endorsed Stace Nelson. One might also wonder if we can accuse PCPAC of coordinating with Drew Dennert’s District 3 House campaign, given that PCPAC is endorsing Dennert and that Dennert is a member of PCPAC (that information has been scrubbed from PCPAC’s Facebook page since last week, but Dennert’s LinkedIn page still says he is a PCPAC board member) and donated $180 to PCPAC this primary season.
I got to wondering of South Dakota campaign finance law, such that it is, restricts coordination between PACs and candidates the way that federal election law does. SDCL 12-27-16 requires that independent expenditures on behalf of candidates include a disclaimer stating that “the communication is independently funded and not made in consultation with any candidate, political party, or political committee….” That language suggests an expectation that PACs and candidates not coordinate.
However, in his report on the Jensen draft-dodging controversy in the District 33 Senate race, Seth Tupper learns that South Dakota candidates and PACs are free to coordinate:
Even if Adelstein and Sly had coordinated their efforts, they would not be in violation of any state laws or regulations, said Jason Williams, of the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. He said there are no state prohibitions against coordination between political action committees and candidates [Seth Tupper, “Campaign Flyer: Sen. Jensen Dodged Draft During Vietnam War,” Rapid City Journal, 2016.05.27].
So if PCPAC did work with Stace to distribute those darling pictures of Caleb, they’ve violated no campaign finance rule. And Drew can endorse himself through his own PAC.