Lisa Furlong lied in her official proponent statement for Amendment U, the payday lenders’ fake rate cap. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs wants to respond to that lie and other political statements by repealing her statutory requirement to include proponent and opponent statements in the official ballot question pamphlet:
Krebs said the ballot pamphlet was never meant to become a political football. Instead of offering pro/con statements, Krebs’ bill – which she says is already drafted – would create pamphlets with the Attorney General’s official explanation of proposed ballot measures and constitutional amendments and contact information for supporters and opponents.
If voters want more information, Krebs said, they can reach out to opponents and backers themselves. Removing pro/con statements would empower voters to find answers themselves, she said.
“That’s what the role of this pamphlet is: To educate our voters,” Krebs said [John Hult, “Secretary of State: Ditch Pro/Con Statements on Ballot Questions,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.09.14].
Secretary Krebs is proposing the wrong solution. The Pro/Con statements offer genuine grassroots activists, like the supporters of Initiated Measure 21, the real payday lending rate cap, one guaranteed opportunity to stand on the same “stage” as the big-money interests who will outgun them in broadcast and print advertising and other expensive campaign tactics. Furlong and fellow payday lending stooge Bradley Thuringer have assiduously avoided requests for media comment; they may never deign to speak in public or directly respond to any citizen requests for information. Taking away this one balanced collection of public statements disempowers voters, adding one more possibly fruitless step to the work they must do to learn about the ballot measures.
The proper response to Lisa Furlong’s lies on behalf of her big-money backers is not to silence everyone. The proper response to bad speech is more speech. Adopt my rebuttal and review proposals for the ballot question pamphlet. Give proponents and opponents a chance to hold each other accountable, and bring an independent panel of fact-checking judges into the mix to evaluate both sides. Present voters with more information in the equal forum of the state ballot question pamphlet, and trust the voters to sort truth from fiction.