*See update below!
Campaign finance reports for the District 3 Republican House candidates show some predictable sums and a couple of violations of campaign finance law.
The top fundraiser is first-time candidate Drew Dennert. He’s got the eye of the tiger, raising $8,190, including 17 donations from individuals chipping in more than $100. As of May 25, his report submission date, Dennert had spent just under $2,000, meaning he had over $6,200 last week to propel him to the primary finish line and regird for the general.
As an incumbent, policeman and Rep. Dan Kaiser doesn’t have to try as hard to make his name known. As of May 25, he had raised $5,093 and spent under $1,300.
As we know, Kaiser and Dennert have been campaigning as a conservative team, while school board member Todd Kolden has been running as a moderate, a brave but likely doomed strategy in a Republican primary sure to bring out the rightest of wingers. Kolden is also at a money disadvantage: as of his reporting date of May 20, he had raised only $475 from donors, thrown in another $790 of his own cash, and spent every penny.
But wait—May 20? Pre-primary reports were due May 27, but that’s not a work early bird Kolden gets—that’s Secretary Krebs’s waggly finger! State campaign finance law says that the pre-primary report (like the pre-general report that candidates will have to file by October 28) must be “complete through the fifteenth day prior to that election” (SDCL 12-27-22). Thus, pre-primary reports must include all campaign income and spending through May 23.
Flipping through my files, I notice that District 22 Democratic House primary candidate Joan Wollschlager’s treasurer Dwayne J. LaFave committed the same error, dating his candidate’s pre-primary report May 6, more than two weeks before the end of the required reporting period.
If Kolden and Wollschlager raised and spent no money between their report dates and May 23, then no harm, no foul, right? Technically, their reports are complete as submitted. However, a violation of SDCL 12-27-22‘s reporting requirements is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Also committing a Class 1 misdemeanor is Officer Kaiser… or at least one of his donors, Santema Consulting. Not Ken Santema, our Aberdeen neighbor, conservative blogger, and attack-PACker, but Santema Consulting, an organization, which state law prohibits from donating to candidate committees:
“Only PAC’s and Ballot Question Committees may receive direct contributions from organizations“—the campaign finance report sheet says that, right on the page, right above where Kaiser reports this illegal $500 contribution from Santema Consulting. The report also helpfully cites the statute, SDCL 12-27-18. I don’t see anything in the report saying that Kaiser has returned this illegal contribution, so somebody faces a Class 1 misdemeanor. (Not to worry: Kaiser also got $500 from the South Dakota Trial Lawyers PAC, so I’m sure they can hook the malfeasant party with good counsel.)
But hey, keep those calls to your lawyers short: you only have four full days of campaigning left before Primary Day!
*Update 14:54 CDT: Candidates Kolden and Kaiser both have some cover. Commenting below, Kolden notes that the Secretary’s e-mail instructions on the pre-primary report specify that candidates may file early, as long as they submit amendments showing any subsequent campaign finance activity taking place during the pre-primary reporting period. My “no harm, no foul” supposition proves correct, for both Kolden and Wollschlager!
Kaiser’s story is not as solid. In an amendment filed at 11:33 CDT today, two and a half hours I posted this article, Kaiser tells the Secretary his original pre-primary report was incorrect as the $500 in question “is a contribution from Ken Santema not the business.” That oopsie! does not explain why Kaiser listed the contribution under the business name in the first place or why when he listed that contribution in the Organizations section and remind himself, “I can’t have anything in this section, because candidate committees can’t take contributions from individuals.”