Dennert Leads District 3 GOP House Fundraising; Kolden, Kaiser Break* Campaign Finance Rules

*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:

excerpt, Rep. Dan Kaiser, pre-primary report, 2016.05.25
excerpt, Rep. Dan Kaiser, pre-primary report, 2016.05.25

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.”

7 Responses to Dennert Leads District 3 GOP House Fundraising; Kolden, Kaiser Break* Campaign Finance Rules

  1. Todd Kolden

    Cory, your headline is incorrect but what you wrote later in the body is…I broke no rules. I did not raise nor spent any funds on my campaign between May 20 and May 23.

  2. Todd, I’m glad you’ll be off the hook. But technically, when you submitted your pre-primary report early, you broke a rule. Only the passage of those four days in fundraising and spending inactivity changed that situation. I take the no-harm-no-foul position, but do the SOS and AG?

  3. Todd Kolden

    This is what the email reminder (step 3) from the SOS’s office states (I did not receive nor expend any funds from the date I submitted my disclosure to May 23):

    Step 3: If you begin working on the disclosure report but you are not ready to submit the report, click Save and Close. Once the report is saved you will have to access the report through the Documents Created but Unsubmitted section of your committee home page.
    • If you choose to submit your disclosure report early (which you may do) and you continue to receive contributions and/or make expenditures up to the reporting period deadline (May 23) you will have to file an amendment. Amendments may only be filed on paper to our office. Per SDCL 12-27-27 an amended disclosure has to be filed within three days of discovering expenditures and/or contributions that were not accounted for.

  4. There is an amended one on SOS’s website for Kaiser!

  5. Ah, that clarification makes sense, Todd!

    DR, now I see that amendment (, evidently submitted this morning. Do I get some credit for helping Team Kaiser recognize the error? And how was that error made? Was that donation cash or a check? From what kitty did that money really come?

  6. The fault on Kaiser end probably started with me. It was paid using my PayPal account, which apparently still has the name of a consulting business I had some years ago when I lived in Minnesota. It was a sole proprietorship. That consulting business no longer exists, I left the world of IT. Kaiser’s treasurer probably should have caught and reported it properly, but stuff happens and the need to amend exists for a reason.

  7. Thanks for that detail, Ken. I think my Paypal account still says “Madville Times.” Is there any way to change your Paypal account name?