On Friday, investigators began showing up on the doorsteps of individuals who circulated petitions for Initiated Measure 21, the 36% rate cap on payday loans. Two Rapid City circulators reported to me that Michael Napier, Rapid City-based bail bondsman for Dan Lederman’s Speedy Release, questioned their circulating activities on behalf of South Dakotans for Responsible Lending, the South Dakota group sponsoring the ballot question.
On Saturday, another Rapid City circulator reported that a different individual appeared on his doorstep with the same questions. On Sunday, readers in Brookings and Sioux Falls reported that Napier visited them with questions about their 36%-rate-cap petitioning. Napier showed up at Robert Klein’s house Sunday morning. By mid-afternoon he was in Sioux Falls visiting Cathy Brechtelsbauer and other circulators. Brechtelsbauer said that Napier wouldn’t give his last name (the photo makes pretty clear he’s the same guy as I reported Friday) but claimed that he “is doing us a favor in that he had already talked to about 60 people (18 to go) and he has not found any irregularities.”
Napier declined to specify for Brechtelsbauer who had hired him. The script used by Napier Friday says he is working for Give Us Credit South Dakota, the first ballot question committee founded to oppose the rate-cap effort and funded almost entirely by Georgia-based payday lending CEO Rod Aycox’s Select Management Resources.
Circulators, keep your information about the payday lenders’ intimidation tactics coming. And if accosted by Napier or other minions of the poverty industry, remember: you do have the right to remain silent to this non-judicial investigator, and anything you say can and will be used against you by the payday lenders in a court of law and maybe campaign advertisements. The simplest response circulators may offer Napier and his colleagues is, “Asked and answered”—you signed an oath on your petitions saying you witnessed every signature and complied with other petition rules. Everything Napier and the payday lenders’ other hired guns need to know is already written and sworn and thus far more valid than any hearsay evidence they may be gathering in their door-to-door intimidation campaign.