District 19 Republican candidate for House ReGina Osborn is robocalling GOP voters across her district to alert them to what she calls “fraud” by her primary opponents:
We also need to discuss the fraud that has been committed against us all. Some of you have received the James River Republican Newspaper Special Edition. It’s a fraud created by the three young candidates to fake Republican support for themselves to fool you. I think we can agree—disgusting and disqualifying conduct to say the least. Please tell your neighbors, friends, and family about this so they are not fooled by this fraud [my transcription; ReGina Osborn, robocall, distributed 2016.06.06].
Osborn concludes the call by urging voters to pick her for House and her “fellow veteran” Stace Nelson for the Senate “We may be gray and mature and blunt-speaking,” she says, “but we are honest and we will serve you, not the tax-and-spend establishment.”
Yesterday I dissected the fake newspaper from Obsorn’s incumbent Republican opponents Rep. Kent Peterson and Rep. Kyle Schoenfish and their Senate-aspirant compadre Caleb Finck. I’m not sure if I’d use the word “fraud,” but the Peter-fish-Finck flyer certainly makes an effort to look like the regular newspaper. I’m hearing that readers and even some newspaper folks are alarmed at the young trio’s use of “the Editor” as a byline amidst otherwise anonymous content (which ranges from sloppily fallacious to simply false). But “fraud”—that’s a fightin’ word! Have Peterson, Schoenfish, and Finck committed fraud by creating the illusion of some sort of editorial endorsement for their paid views? Or does their teeny-print disclaimer at the bottom of the back page excuse them from any repercussions?
District 19 voters, if you haven’t early voted, you have 27.5 hours to decide.
Bonus Campaign Finance Minutiae! At the end of yesterday’s post, I asked readers to consider whether Peter-fish-Finck’s advocacy for NO votes on all ten ballot measures triggered an obligation for them to file Independent Expenditure reports under SDCL 12-27-16. It turns out I was asking a trick question. The issue isn’t the nature of the communication—did they really advocate voting NO, or did they use enough weasel language about “it’s harder and harder to argue with the people who suggest we JUST VOTE NO” to avoid actually telling people how to vote?—but of the communicators. The flyer was paid for by the three legislative campaign committees. SDCL 12-27-16 applies only to “persons” and “organizations.” By statutory definition (SDCL 12-27-1) “organizations” do not include political committees or political parties. Legislative candidates can thus use their campaign funds to publish anything they want about the ballot measures (as Peter-fish-Finck do) and other candidates (as Osborn does in telling neighbors to vote for Stace) without having to file independent expenditure reports within 48 hours of publication.
Update 17:10 CDT: To clarify why Osborn calls the James River Republican a fraud, here are images of pages 2, 3, and 4 of the fake newspaper:
“Our Endorsements…” “Why do we like….” Only if you flip to the back and squint at the smallest, faintest print on the document do you see “James River Republican is paid for by Finck for State Senate, Kyle Schoenfish for House, and Kent Peterson for District 19” and learn that these three fellas are talking about themselves.