Daugaard: Banning Out-of-State Funding of Ballot Measures Like Banning Foreign Contributions to House/Senate Candidates

Governor Dennis Daugaard reached for an awkward analogy yesterday to justify Republican legislators’ impending attack on our right to put initiatives and referenda on the ballot:

Daugaard says he’s tired of out-of-state money influencing South Dakota politics. He likens it to federal statutes preventing foreign money from influencing national politics.

“When you have out-of-state contributions contributing to a state matter, that’s a comparable thing,” Daugaard says. “So if you can limit foreign contributions to speech at the national level, should you not also be able to limit out of state contributions that are directed toward the debate on in-state issues?” [Lee Strubinger, “Daugaard Wants IM 22 Repealed and Replaced, Activists Say ‘Respect the Vote’,” SDPB Radio, 2017.01.10]

No, you should not. The barriers we can raise at our nation’s borders differ greatly from the barriers we can raise between states—hence the term, United States.

The United States can levy tariffs on Chinese goods. South Dakota cannot levy tariffs on Minnesotan goods.

The United States can require Chinese residents to obtain visas to enter the United States. South Dakota cannot require Minnesotans to obtain visas to enter South Dakota.

Practically and conceptually, Minnesotans are far more akin to South Dakotans in Constitutional rights than Chinese nationals are and can far more quickly become South Dakotans than Chinese nationals can.

Besides, Governor Daugaard took at least $27,200 in contributions from out-of-state individuals and PACs in 2013 alone. So what’s his problem with free speech across state lines?

I can sympathize with the Governor’s bunker impulse to close our borders to outsiders who would meddle in our politics. I myself have raged against mercenary petition circulators who violate our residency requirement for collecting signatures. But our petition-residency requirements may not withstand constitutional scrutiny. Limiting the free-speech rights of fellow Americans would even more likely fail a court challenge.

Related Reading: In November, Michael Wyland made the case that restrictions on out-of-state donations to state ballot measure campaigns are less defensible than out-of-state donations to Congressional candidates:

Out-of-state money donated for political campaigns, especially U.S. House and Senate campaigns, is far more reasonable in candidate elections than it is when applied to statewide ballot initiatives. The key reason is the scope of the campaign’s capacity and geography for proximate, direct effect. Therefore, it is appropriate to challenge an initiative’s expression of a state’s voters’ collective will and desires when those campaigns are financed primarily from outside its borders. On the other hand, candidate elections for the House and Senate have a built-in native element in their residency requirements for both candidacy and voting. Campaign finance offers the opportunity for residents and interests from across the country to give time, money, and other resources—but not their votes—to support or oppose candidates for national offices based on multi-state and national concerns [Michael Wyland, “Are There Two Sides of Out-of-State Money in Politics? About Those Embattled Ballot Questions,” Nonprofit Quarterly, 2016.11.04].


13 Responses to Daugaard: Banning Out-of-State Funding of Ballot Measures Like Banning Foreign Contributions to House/Senate Candidates

  1. Porter Lansing

    It’s the “new” ideas that are important. It’s much less important where “new” ideas come from. Assuming South Dakota voters can be convinced to vote for something they don’t believe in because they’ve heard repetitive attempts to convince them, is an insult to the above average “book learnin” of SoDak’s residents. The inherent stubbornness and proclivity to argue and dissect an issue makes convincing the voters to go against their best judgment nearly impossible; no matter how much is spent and where the ad money comes from.

  2. Can we not count on South Dakota voters to see through propaganda and to weigh information from non-South Dakotans as they see fit?

  3. Porter Lansing

    Of course, SoDak voters can tell right from wrong. e. g. Look at all the Atlanta money spent to allow loan shark, payday loans and Koch Bros. money spent to stop an ethics commission. What political party supported those monies? The same one that wants to restrict choice, choices and valid political competition at the polls.

  4. mike from iowa

    But ALEC funding legislators and writing wingnut legislation is perfectly hunky dory? Nice.

  5. Donald Pay

    If Daugaard is serious about this, he needs to undo a lot of the right wing legal and federal and state legislative effort over the last 30 years. We’re going to need 2 or 3 liberal judges on the federal Supreme Court to undo this.

    Funny this comes up now. South Dakota citizens have been complaining about this for over 30 years. We ran into out-of-state money on numerous occasions. Waste dumpers, mining industry, corporate ag interests were almost totally funded by out-of-state money.

    Let’s see Republican legislators take the first step: ban Legislators from ALEC and other such out-of-state money churning organizations. They can start cleaning up their own corruption funded by such out-of-state corporations. Then there will be less need for the initiative and referendum.

  6. It is good Mr. H does not have a bunker hunker mentality and close his bloggings to out of staters or there would be a small fraction of the comments here. :)

    Actually, I think money contributions including Gov. Daugaards $27,200 should be banned entirely, even if that was a tiny fraction of the dozens of millions of dollars he no doubt brought in. However, grudznick harbors no illusion that there aren’t probably ways to send money to somebody else in-state like Mr. Wieland who would just donate it or that people out of state could just drive to a McDonalds in Brookings and still be able to blog here. Or send a blogging to somebody in South Dakota to put here. Maybe that’s a better analogy.

    So the answer has to be to limit contributions to these silly things to $5 per person per year.

  7. Porter Lansing

    Grudznick … You scorn out of state thinkers invading your fragile bubble and psyche? Why would you limit your brain, such? It’s about ideas. Not about where ideas come from. Think of everything that was invented in the last hundred years that didn’t come from South Dakota or USA, for that matter.

  8. Har Har, Mr. Lansing. I’ve got quite a herd of your goats now and my pen is so full I may have to ship some to Iowa.

  9. Porter Lansing

    You’re goat-less. Obviously, I got yours or you’d still be hiding in your room with the radio on instead of trying to explain yourself.

  10. I don’t ever hear the Governor complaining about ALEC and other conservative groups meddling in South Dakota politics. I wonder why his real beef is? Might it be that he fears losing at his own game?

  11. Porter, your comments are very comprehensive! Cory, so are yours. The thing the Republicans fear most is that the people of SD will think for themselves and vote their conscience! If there going to ban outside money and influence on initiatives then by the same token, they MUST ban the same thing from ALEC et al!

  12. Porter Lansing

    Perhaps the second thing Republicans fear most is the internet. People from “outside” their captive corral are paying attention to SoDak politics, because it’s easy now. Ex-patriots who love living in liberal-land are appalled at what the state political climate has become. Guilt and shame can move mountains and mitigate oppression. It’s like the first flake of snow that melts every spring.

  13. clcjm, you get me thinking about a fundamental contradiction: Al Novstrup and other legislators pretend that they are not swayed by the out-of-state money and gifts that come straight to their pockets and tummies, yet they don’t think voters can make up their own minds without being unduly swayed by out-of-state money that provides them no direct benefit and only clutters our airwaves and mailboxes.

    I do agree that we should cap contributions to ballot question committees, and Shantel Krebs’s SB 55 would do that for all donors, wherever they live. That restriction would pass judicial scrutiny, and it would not rely on the counter-productive bunker mentality that Republicans selectively invoke.