IM 22 Throttles ActBlue in South Dakota

I raised $5,701.02 from 76 donors for my District 3 Senate campaign by using ActBlue to collect contributions online. That’s over a quarter of my campaign fund, with an average donation of about $75. Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, just made raising that amount from relatively small donors on ActBlue illegal in South Dakota.

ActBlue acts as a political action committee, collecting donations through its website, then bundling those contributions into weekly checks for candidates using the system. ActBlue collects a small processing fee on each transaction, which it deducts before sending the balance to the candidate. The Secretary of State’s office directs candidates to report the total they receive in checks from ActBlue as a PAC contribution. Candidates using ActBlue do not have to report the individual donors who send them money via ActBlue, nor do they have to report the ActBlue processing fee as a campaign expense.

As I reported yesterday, the Anti-Corruption Act puts limits on PAC donations to South Dakota candidates where previously there were none. Under the Anti-Corruption Act, PACs like ActBlue can give no more than $4,000 per calendar year to gubernatorial candidates, $2,000 to Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General candidates, $1,000 to other statewide candidates, and $750 to Legislative and county candidates.

I raised over $750 on ActBlue in my first three days of online fundraising in February.

Henry Red Cloud raised $2,690 on ActBlue for his PUC bid. Clara Hart raised $76,639.20 as of October 24 on ActBlue.

The Anti-Corruption Act can’t ex post facto criminalize the thousands we raised on ActBlue before the election. However, I assume that, since the new contribution caps are law now, if anyone sends me over $750 via ActBlue before January 1, I’ll have to send it back.

The answer here is not to throw out the Anti-Corruption Act or its new campaign finance limits. The answer is to change how the Secretary of State interprets contributions sent via ActBlue. The $5,701.02 I raised online came from 76 identifiable individual donors. I have the spreadsheet, complete with their address, occupations, and employers, ready to show the Secretary of State that not one of them exceeded $750. ActBlue didn’t make a contribution to my campaign; it provided a service, for which I paid $224.50 (a 3.9% fee for a secure online donation portal? Worth it!). ActBlue didn’t act as a political action committee; it acted as a vendor, just like PayPal.

If the goal of the Anti-Corruption Act is transparency, then we should require candidates to report the individual donors using ActBlue as a service provider. Otherwise, the Anti-Corruption Act will severely curtail the ability of South Dakota candidates to use an online fundraising tool that helps them compete against candidates enjoying big-money donations from larger corporate PACs.

35 Responses to IM 22 Throttles ActBlue in South Dakota

  1. The Republican legislature will use things like this to justify scrapping the law, business as usual.

  2. Porter Lansing

    There are better ways than a PAC that allows anonymous money to go to campaigns. For instance, send your $750 directly to Cory’s home and be proud you supported a man of the people and be proud that your name is in the public record. It also lets him use the 3.9% handling charge for more change.

  3. IM22 is all about small donors. Act Blue is all about small donors. SDGOP is all about large donors and ignoring small donors and people.

    I sincerely hope it’s not too much to ask from the legislators to have an open and honest discussion about IM22 and it’s intended and unintended consequences.

    At its core, IM22 is about transparency.

  4. Hey, Porter, I’ll gladly take those direct contributions! But I’d hate to lose the opportunity to harvest some of the easy pickings online, especially from folks who may not even have a checking account and may not want to put cash in an envelope.

  5. mike from iowa

    Since I haven’t seen election results for SD, how did Henry Red Cloud fare going after a PUB seat?

  6. Porter Lansing

    Pat Powers is calling this blog post proof that Dems feel they’ve made a big mistake with IM22. First of all, there aren’t enough Dems to pass anything. IM22 was passed because Repub voters were sick of corruption and lobbyists buying favors and votes with gifts.

  7. Mike, alas, ActBlue didn’t put Henry over the top: Chris Nelson beat him 75.4% to 24.6%.

    Porter, the tone of Pat’s post shows he’s never interesting in informing readers, just in screaming at the top of his lungs to prove what an ass he can be. You’re absolutely right: Dems didn’t pass this law; the voters did, and their votes for candidates show they are anything but a bunch of Democrats. Pat sees the world through Koch-bottled partisan glasses.

  8. Porter Lansing

    Off Topic, but relevant. There are more liberals in SoDak this week than any other time. If you see one, be sure and mention that not one Democrat won an elected office. I write an Ex-Patriot Update on my Facebook and the readers were appalled that things had gotten so bad. Hopefully some will contribute.

  9. Repubs are not familiar with Act Blue. It probably sounds to them like it could be something dangerous. Therefore they must use any means at their disposal to stifle it. And Dems are powerless to fight. And so it goes …

  10. mike from iowa

    The blue color scares wingnuts beyond any of our attempts to understand. That is why Russia-red-is good. Dems-blue-must be destroyed.

  11. If the state won’t recognize ActBlue as a vendor rather than a PAC in this transaction, ActBlue may need to change its operating model. I agree with Curt that this online fundraising gives us an advantage… at least until Republicans figure out how to use it, which we should count on happening soon.

  12. Porter Lansing

    Does IM22 have a section about public funding of elections in South Dakota, should a candidate choose that path?

  13. Yes, Porter! Democracy Credits! I’ll get to that in another post!

  14. Well….Thanks Slick Rick!

    Act Blue is a federally registered PAC. They may be providing a service to democratic candidates by raising money, but it still comes from a PAC.

  15. Hmm… so if Americans for Prosperity sets up a similar online payment website and provides services for a fee to help candidates collect individual donations, those checks are still donations from the Kochs’ PAC?

    Jana makes the main point, DR: if we can tie the donations to individuals, does the state really have an interest in capping the contributions as if they were from a PAC? As long as we have transparency (and I’m offering complete and better transparency than previous statute, plus more participation of small donors than applying the IM 22 PAC limits to ActBlue), what’s the problem?

  16. I don’t disagree CAH but that is how the law is written. Like I said, thank Slick Rick and his Cronies for this awful bill?

    We want to limit outside money coming into South Dakota politics, why do we let Massachusetts lawyers write laws for South Dakota.

  17. DR: We allow that Massachusetts influence for the same reason as we allow ALEC and the Koch brothers.

    Corey: I’d like to know precisely what is being done and planned to defeat the legislative challenge that is certain to come in the 2017 session. There had better be some significant planning and consultation with the governor and the contingent of reasonable republicans to turn this stuff back without embroiling the entire legislative session in pointless argument and sniveling. There is no question in my mind that the red haired pit bull is going to open the session slobbering a growling about this measure and how they are being victimized by the public that elected them. Neither this, nor DiSanto’s gun bill should be allowed to get any traction in committee because if they do, it’s going to be business as usual- get nothing done- except further divide the state and perpetuate angst and hard feelings.

  18. Porter Lansing

    Lawsuit IM22 Filed …

  19. funny. something is done and the Republicans like DR (yes I’m assuming) whine. They talk a good game about stopping corruption but don’t do anything about.

    “Slick Rick” did the right thing. DR is ignorant

  20. “We want to limit outside money coming into South Dakota politics, why do we let Massachusetts lawyers write laws for South Dakota.”

    …it appears xenophobia hits literally everyone in this state.

  21. Put Rorschach on the record in support of the Curd lawsuit. Not all of the grounds cited will fly, but some of them will and that’s enough. IM22 – the everything and the kitchen sink initiated measure – is a rambling wreck. A narrowly tailored ethics reform measure without the separate issue of public funding would have done wonders for SD. When the lawsuit does away with this what do we have? Nothing but a waste of time and resources all around.

  22. Darin Larson

    Ror, we have to put up with a rambling wreck for President so I think the legislature can put up with IM22. The fact that they and their family members all can’t work for the state and control the state purse strings and take gifts from lobbyists is fine with me. It sounds like IM22 would actually drain the swamp in Pierre. The sky is falling noise from these politicians who are not used to oversight and conflict of interest laws being applied to them would do Chicken Little proud.

    The legislature has passed all manner of open meetings laws and laughably over-broad conflict of interest laws for every other public official in the state, except that they have exempted themselves. My attitude on this law is it is a response to the fact that the legislature can’t seem to police its own ranks and those of the executive branch. The people had to step in to the fray because of the void that the legislature has had with regard to ethics and oversight.

    If there needs to be some tweaking to make the law reasonable and workable, I’m fine with that. Throwing the whole thing out because the legislature doesn’t want to deal with it would be a total subversion of the will of the voters. If you are a legislator and are not willing to live under the rules of IM22, you need to resign. It is that simple.

    But the legislature loves spending taxpayer money on all manner of lawsuits, so why should we be surprised about this lawsuit?

  23. The best thing about the IM #22 is that it might just cause the legislatures to be cancelled this year completely. That would be really swell because they could not make any more stupid laws.

  24. DR, are you familiar with the Koch brothers, ALEC, AFP and the rest of their network? Last I checked, they don’t live in SD.

    Our legislature lives on ALEC’s corporately written bills. Do you think DiSanto crafted her ammosexual bill all by herself? Last I checked the NRA was not based here.

    All of the whining about out of state rings hollow unless you are willing to look at both sides.

  25. The IM #22 is probably the stupidest law bill ever. And that’s saying something.

    Slick Rick is laughing. He is laughing.

  26. Porter Lansing

    Laughing is healthy and fun. Especially when you win. Vote No On Everything? Looks like the people voted NO on you, Grudzie. lol

  27. Darin Larson

    Grudz, there you go again, calling voters stupid.

  28. Mr. Larson, I believe the voters are very stupid. If you disagree with me I invite you to civilly and fully support the elected fellows Novstrup, Thune, Noem and others they put in place recently to govern over you, and the elected fellows Daugaard, Jackley and Rounds who were put in place by the same voters to govern over you.

    All the out of state libbies here don’t have to agree because they aren’t even governed over by all those people.

  29. Plato’s Cave is South Dakota’s tea phony wish for the people, keep chained and in the darkness of the cave.

  30. Porter Lansing

    The voters told you that YOU’RE the stupid one, Grudzburger ….. and there’s a whole lot more of them. They also told those wallowing in the bribes, Curd, Peters, Soholt, Stalzer, Stalzer, Willadsen, Bolin, Cammack, Cronin, Ewing, Greenfield, Greenfield, Haverly, Jensen, Maher, Novstrup, Otten, Otten, Tidemann, White, Wiik, Anderson, Johns, Mickelson, Peterson, Peterson, Qualm, and Koch Brothers that they will no longer get jobs for their spouses from lobbyists. No longer call lobbying sessions meetings. No longer take weekend vacations to the Black Hills, all expenses paid from some group that wants their vote. No longer use their elected position to line their pockets with things no other state allows. The Republican voters who passed this law have spoken and woe be to those who disrespect their decree.

  31. Douglas Wiken

    Setting up a system that can use credit cards and track contributors and designate contributions for specific candidates can’t be terribly complicated and require an out-of-state operation. Why can’t the SD Democratic Party do this? Republicans the same way.

    And a better way to control all this would have been Don Frankenfeld’s suggestion that all contributions and expenses must go through state government monitored bank accounts and all expenses be paid by check from these accounts.

  32. John W., I would hope that Don Frankenfeld is already calling his Republican friends in Pierre to tell them to leave IM 22 alone.

  33. And hey, Porter, why link to the GOP spin blog when you can link to the real news:

    …complete with R. Blake Curd’s complaint! I’ll do an analysis when I recover from all that turkey.

  34. Did you vote on this issue in South Dakota, Mr. Lansing?

    Grudzburger indeed…I think for supper I will have them slather some mashed over some tender white breast meat on a big bun and soak it all in turkey gravy. Then I can eat it while I read all the insaner than all get out stuff that was pushed over on the stupid voters with millions of dollars of out-of-state money.

    This is why we must ban the measures of initiated law bills or make there be a smarter test to be able to vote on them.