Pat Powers has it out for Shantel Krebs, who ousted his old and incompetent patron Jason Gant from the Secretary of State’s office in the 2014 election cycle. Powers has also worked for the campaign of Krebs’s opponent in the U.S. House race, Dusty Johnson.
But Powers gets a genuine scoop on a possible violation of campaign law by Krebs. He reports that Vote605, the Secretary of State’s official app for checking voter registration and polling places, offers a link that directs users to Krebs’s campaign Facebook page.
The home screen of the Vote605 app offers three buttons: search for voter, Facebook, and Twitter.
This morning when I tap on the Vote605 Facebook button, the app sends me to Shantel Krebs’s campaign Facebook page, where the first thing I see is her profile icon reading, “Shantel Krebs—Congress“:
Now interestingly, federal election law exempts providing without charge a link to a website from reporting requirements, so the Federal Election Commission may not have a hammer to drop on Krebs. However, the state campaign finance laws for which the Secretary of State bears some enforcement responsibility may make this app-campaign linkage illegal. South Dakota Codified Law 12-27-20 says, “The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate….” Vote605 was created by a state office with state funds. Using that public resource to give users a link to one candidate’s political page serves the purpose of influencing the nomination and election of that candidate. That Facebook link on the Vote605 app thus appears to violate state campaign finance law.