Governor Balks at Funding Voter-Approved Ethics Commission

Governor Dennis Daugaard identified Initiated Measure 22 as Budget Enemy #1 in his budget address yesterday. He says the $4.9 million ($9 times 546,615 currently registered voters) Section 68 of IM 22 appropriates for the new “Democracy Credit Fund” is too big a chunk of the $19.7 million in new revenue he allocates in his FY2018 proposal.

The Governor focused his tirade against that $4.9 million on the public campaign financing function of the Democracy Credit Fund. However, per Section 42 of IM22, the Democracy Credit Fund provides cash not only for the Democracy Credits that every voter is eligible to receive and direct toward candidates’ campaigns but also for “paying for the administrative and enforcement costs of the ethics commission….” In other words, when the Governor vows not to fund IM22, he is vowing not to fund a state ethics commission.

It is entirely possible that candidates may receive only a small portion of that $4.9 million (plus whatever comparable amount would be appropriated in the FY2019 budget). Those competing to succeed Governor Daugaard won’t get any of it: Section 50 phases in the Democracy Credits, making them available only to qualifying legislative candidates in the 2018 election. Whoever’s up for PUC will be able to seek Democracy Credits in 2020; gubernatorial and other statewide candidates will have to wait for their shot at public campaign financing until 2022. Candidates for Congress cannot qualify for Democracy Credits.

Section 59 caps the amount each legislative candidate can collect in Democracy Credits in a single election year at $15,000. Section 60 caps total disbursements to all legislative candidates at $6,000,000. That’s enough to fund 400 candidates, or 3.8 candidates for every seat. This year we had 203 legislative candidates. If we stepped that up just a bit in 2018 and fielded 210 candidates, two for each seat in Pierre, and if all of them qualified for Democracy Credits, and if they all maxed out, they’d use $3.15 million from the Democracy Credit Fund.

Not every legislative candidate will qualify for Democracy Credits. Not every candidate will want to. Here are the conditions for legislative candidates:

  1. Can’t spend more than $1,000 of one’s own money on the campaign [Section 51(1)].
  2. Can’t take money from PACs, parties, other candidate committees, or people who don’t live in South Dakota [Section 51(2); “qualified contribution” defined Section 3(5)].
  3. Can’t take contributions larger than $250 [Section 51(2); “qualified contribution” defined Section 3(5)].
  4. Can’t use Democracy Credits to contribute to other candidates, parties, or committees [Section 51(3)].
  5. Can’t collect Democracy Credits before collecting at least 25 qualified contributions of at least $10 each [Section 53].

I spent none of my own money on my District 3 race, but the other conditions would knock out about 44% (about $9,100) of the money I raised to run this year. Those conditions would have blocked 91% (almost $25,000) of the contributions my Republican opponent Al Novstrup reports on his pre-general 2016 campaign finance report. I might give up $9,100 for a shot at $15,000 in Democracy Credits, but there’s no way Novstrup would give up $25K in PAC and party money for $15K in public campaign finance.

So assume that maybe half of the 2018 legislative candidates would accept the conditions to receive Democracy Credits. At most, they would claim $1.575 million in public campaign finance, and that’s only if every one of those candidates has the hustle to get 300 people to each hand over one of their two $50 Democracy Credits (or 150 people to hand over both).

Whether candidates and voters opt to redeem the Democracy Credits, Governor Daugaard can still holler that IM 22 carves $4.9 million out of the general fund. But the only guaranteed use of that money is to fund the new state ethics commission that he’s supposed to be appointing. I suspect the Governor is hollering and Republican legislators are suing less because they’re worried about candidates seeking Democracy Credits and more about giving an independent ethics commission the resources it needs to investigate corruption in state government and campaign finance.

Related Reading: KELO Radio’s “Token Liberal” Todd Epp says the Governor’s recalcitrance on IM22 runs counter to the “drain the swamp” impulse that South Dakota voters signaled:

The people (including some Republicans who voted for IM 22) have spoken. Let the measure play out in practice and in the courts before rejecting it or tinkering with it.

Republican opposition to IM 22 is proof positive that the citizens need to exercise more oversight over their government. IM 22, imperfect as it is, starts to give them those tools [Todd Epp, “GOP Reaction to IM22 Proof Reform Measure is Necessary,” KELO Radio, 2016.12.07].

Say, Section 42 of IM22 allows “voluntary donations made directly to the democracy credit fund.” Hmm… so suppose we could get George Soros and Donald Trump to each kick in a few million dollars to fund our ethics commission. The Governor couldn’t say no then, could he?

32 Responses to Governor Balks at Funding Voter-Approved Ethics Commission

  1. It is unfortunate that the political will in initiated measures points towards draining the swamp, yet we keep re-electing the same swamp creatures that create the problems.

  2. Porter Lansing

    REPUBLICITY CREDITS might sound better to those firmly gripped on the firehose of negativity. Anything with the root “democrat” is contrary to their being contrary.

  3. Porter—dang! I should have known! It’s the branding that has the Republicans mad!

    Now if we could just get MD’s branding to stick… we should call IM 22 the “Anti-Swamp Creature Act.”

  4. Porter Lansing

    HOLD THE TRAIN … I went back to my stove and then it sunk in. Someone or some group gave Carnival Al Novstrup $25,000 “American” to defeat Mr. Heidelberger for a job that pays $6,000? How many favors does it take to pay back $25,000? How many times does Carny Al get to write the regulations himself that self-regulate laws pertinent to his amusement park? How many times does he get to try and cut his employees wages with self-serving laws about youth labor? And then, when he’s been term limited he turns this confidence scheme over to his boy, like Tony Soprano’s Uncle Junior did. Aberdeen’s a shallow pond, folks and Carny Al’s the biggest pelican.

  5. Darin Larson

    I think IM22 should be called “Swampbuster.”

  6. Swampbuster is one tick catchier than “Anti-Corruption Act”. :-)

    Porter, the $25K I cite from Al’s pre-general report is the sum of all contributions from PACs, the GOP, and other GOP candidate committees.

  7. If somebody gave Mr. Novstrup, the elder, $25 large and American, to win a job for which he will only earn $12,000 over his term, then they must have been doing it just to annoy Mr. H.

  8. Porter Lansing

    Mr. Grinchnik … No PAC cares whether Cory is annoyed or content. Carny Al got $25,000 because he’s gullible enough to believe Dearborn is under Sharia law and will do as he’s told by his campaign contributors.

  9. Ah, I see, you are saying, Mr. Lansing, that as a carnival owner Mr. Novstrup is a kept man. You should be able to also look at the internet and see who he gives free rides too, because that’s probably against the IM 22 also.

  10. Porter Lansing

    Grinch … He’s not known as Carny Al the Kiddies Pal because he gives free rides. It’s because he provides low wage job opportunities. I know you don’t get much current info, there at the institution but you can’t post your “fake news ” on the internet, anymore. I listed you on the watch list. BTW … did you send Daugaard a lump of coal e/mail, today? Tomorrow would be fine, too.

  11. Darin Larson

    Grudz, Novstrup can give as many free rides to people as he wants. IM22 concerns itself with the free rides that people like Novstrup are getting and the ride they may be taking tax payers on.

  12. So Mr. Novstrup himself can’t have a free ride, and can’t let his wife ride for free either. And all the employees of your city can’t take pay for their work because they belong to a union thing that has a lobbist. This is all pretty messy. No wonder everybody is saying it is the sloppiest and worst written law bill in the past 50 years. Rick laughing. Rick laughing.

  13. Roger Cornelius

    Do you really believe that a republican would give anything for free?

  14. Mr. C, I myself offered to leave you a coupon for a free breakfast at Talley’s, and many there know my generosity. And what about all the gifts given to random children over the holidays?

    Do you really believe there are no Republicans who have soft hearts and giving souls? That is sad, Mr. C, and more than a little bit telling of prejudice.

  15. Porter Lansing

    In poker it’s called a “tell”. When an anti-corruption package becomes the law, the ones the most vocal and angry are the “corrupt ones”.
    I like Rick Weiland, Mr. Gurdz. He’s “foxhole” material. He deserves to be happy and laugh. He turned the GOP majority against their corrupt leaders. Everybody be happy and laugh. We Libbies won a big one.

  16. Mr. Lansing, you libbies and Mr. Weiland with his fancy high-brow restaurant did indeed pull a big trick over on the voters. You did indeed. Slick Rick is laughing at all the money he is costing South Dakotans as his “pay-back” for not getting elected. That’s what this is for him, he is flipping the bird at South Dakotans and laughing.

  17. Porter Lansing

    Parker’s Bistro is a very nice restaurant. Five Stars ✯✯✯✯✯ Every guest is treated special. The only ones that think it’s “high-brow” are those with low self-esteem. hehe

  18. Mr. Lansing, that bistro place is not really a meat and potatoes place. Not a South Dakotan place. It’s for high-brow out-of-staters mostly, and a few pretenders from Sioux Falls. I hear the walls are falling down around there.

  19. I wonder if Parker’s takes food stamps, or has any $5 burgers for the everyman that might want a hearty lunch?

  20. Darin Larson

    Grudz, are you as concerned about all the lobbyist events that are being cancelled because they can’t fit them under the $100 a person limit for gifts to legislators? If the legislators were eating $5 hamburgers, why worry about a $100 gift limit?

  21. Bill Dithmer

    Oh you lucky people in South Dakota. You have a governing body that is trying to write their leagacy, and you are all helping.

    The problem, as I see it, is that those in power cant decide how they want to be remembered. They dont have to worry about being either progressive, forward thinking, or even “the peoples people,” those things are off the table. That leaves one of these three directions they are left with.


    Moral regulators

    And that good old GOP plank Obstructionist

    That seems to be all the leaders have. But its hard to tell with all the secrets and backroom decisions being made in the last two decades. The policies of the GOP are comming home to roost and South Dakota, like all red states, is going to see less monies then would have been realized under Clinton. It looks like there will be some splaining to do for someone. But how do you tell a voting public the truth and make it sound like something it isnt.

    I’m reminded of a line from the movie “My Blue Heaven.” “What is the difference between a light bulb, and a pregnant woman?” “You can unscrew a light bulb.” To bad we cant just unscrew SD. But like the women of baby making age in the state know by now, “There’s no such thing as being just a little bit pregnant. And when your screwed, your screwed.

    The Blindman

  22. Grudz, you’re very uninformed about the SNAP (food stamps) program. Whether a restaurant is “high brow” or the cheapest fast food joint is irrelevant. SNAP can’t be used in any restaurant! Beneficiaries must cook at home! They can’t even buy hot, precooked food at a grocery store such as broasted chicken or Chinese food like HyVee sells.
    As for you’re thinking Rick is “laughing all the way to the bank”, you are now Exhibit A for the No. 1 technique the Republicans have been perfecting for several decades: project and deflect! You accuse anyone you don’t like, that you disagree with or that you want to defame of doing exactly what YOU or your party is doing so no one will notice what you’re doing!

  23. Conservatives denigrate poor people for being so damn selfish, and then they praise the wealthy for being money grubbing corporate whores.

  24. Conservatives also denigrated John Kerry’s wife for being rich and having an accent in 2004. Such opposition to such qualities of a First Lady disappeared in 2016.

  25. owen reitzel

    ” Slick Rick is laughing at all the money he is costing South Dakotans as his “pay-back” for not getting elected. That’s what this is for him, he is flipping the bird at South Dakotans and laughing.”

    Well grudznick the tators and gravy finally went to your head. having grown up with Rick I know what kind of guy he is and believe me he’s a great guy. Plus Parker’s is a great place. You should try it.
    I’ll trust him with IM22 more then with the Republicans and Daugaard. Neither of which has done anything to stop any corruption. Wake up!

  26. Grudz, that is an offensive and baseless imputation of vile motives to a good public servant and honest South Dakotan. Apologize.

  27. Apologize for the unconstitutional (judge says!) and offensive IM #22, plus Mr. Mike, who is from Iowa’s constant name calling and your own constant imputation of all Republicans because of the actions of one or two. Otherwise, Mr. Weiland is clearly just in this to reap out of state money into his own pocket, at the expense of $5 million dollars of your and my taxpayer dollars (not Mike’s or Donald’s or Porter’s) going to politicians.

    Judge says.

  28. Wow—sticking with the baseless personal attack, Grudz? There are much easier ways for a guy to make money. Weiland doesn’t need ballot measures to pad his pockets.

  29. Just so we’re on the record Grudz, your favorite Tally’s lunch Dick hamburger is $11.00. That’s a high brow price and doesn’t really fit in the “every man” category. Heck buddy, Tally’s charges $13.00 for their gussied up waffles. I can see why you stick with taters and gravy.

    I know you think you’re funny, I just don’t think you are as funny as you fancy yourself to be.

    I won’t over God you cuz I know you hate that, but I will just say that the hateful venom that spews from the Governor, your buddy PP and his merry band of sycophants directed at Weiland is childish, sophomoric and very un-Christ like.

    Do you know if the Governor has sent an apology to either Mr. Frankenfeld or Mr. Solberg for his undignified name calling spree in his budget address? That was a classless act of a Governor who wants to be respected and lead all of the people of South Dakota. If he hasn’t he could just be waiting on his highly paid son-in-law to tell hi what to say.

    I did a little research and so far I have been unable to find such harsh words for either Anderson Seeds, EB-5 or Gear Up…but then, he was the “scam-artist-in-chief” for those “Hoodwinks.”

    Lastly, that you would chortle over a tragedy in Sioux Falls that cost a hard working father, husband and veteran shows me how much hate rules your soul and the soul of your fellow Sioux Falls haters. Grud, that was beneath even you and any accepted moral standard.

  30. Ms. Jana, your hate oozes from your words indeed.

    I have yet to even run into a hint of anybody, until you, who would even consider the loss of Mr. McMahon something that might be “chortled about”. Did you know he did several tours of duty overseas and probably continues to change people’s lives today, even after his passing? I figured you did not.

    As to Mr. PP, he is not my buddy, and as to Christ, he’s a myth.

  31. I have many connections with the family Grudz and many of the people they have touched…so yes, I am quite familiar with not just his service record but the many people who he and his family have touched. I was there during the rescue and recovery and at his memorial service.

    So how was I supposed to interpret your little “I hear the walls are falling down around there.” dig at the Weilands and Sioux Falls? As a gesture of respect for the young man and the city?

    You may not believe in Christ, but the “powers” that be in South Dakota use Him like a cudgel and a crutch to justify their actions…following His words are a completely different matter.

    You’re non-apology is noted.

    Like I said, you are not as funny as you think you are.

  32. Roger Cornelius

    Grudz is very much like Donald Trump, he craves attention and will say anything stupid or a lie to get it.

    Ignore Grudz!!!