SOS Krebs OKs Mickelson Petition on Banning Out-of-State Money from Ballot Question Campaigns

Speaker G. Mark Mickelson has received approval from the Secretary of State to start circulating his unconstitutional proposal to ban out-of-staters from contributing to ballot question committees. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has added Mickelson’s “initiated measure prohibiting contributions to ballot question committees by non-residents, out-of-state political committees, and entities that are not filed with the Secretary of State” to the roster of “Currently Circulating” ballot measures.

SOS Krebs stamped Mickelson’s petition form “Received” yesterday, August 2, 2017. On August 1 SOS Krebs approved Mickelson’s circulator handouts, which SDCL 2-1-1.1 requires to include the Attorney General’s explanation; the ballot measure sponsor’s name, phone, and e-mail; and a declaration of what the circulator is being paid. Mickelson filed multiple forms for volunteers and for paid circulators at a variety of wage levels:

  • $10, $11, $12, $13, $14, or $15 per hour;
  • $50, $75, or $100 per day;
  • $2,000, $2,500, $3,000, or $3,500 per month.

If you’d like to apply to circulate an unconstitutional measure for those wages, you can contact Mickelson at the contact info listed on those sheets and on the statement of organization for his first ballot question committee, Protect Our Ballot SD, which he filed on July 24. Mickelson’s petition with at least 13,871 signatures is due this November 6; he won’t have to report who funds his petition drive (including any out-of-state contributions!) until January 26, 2018.

Strangely, that document indicates that Mickelson has formed Protect Our Ballot SD in support of Referred Law 19:

Error highlighted; Protect Our Ballot SD, statement of organization, 2017.07.24, p. 2.
Error highlighted; Protect Our Ballot SD, statement of organization, 2017.07.24, p. 2.

Speaker Mickelson, I know we disagreed on the merits of Referred Law 19/2015 Senate Bill 69, but we took that cow out of the barn and down to the slaughterhouse last year, when voters sided with me over you 71% to 29%. Let it go already!

This reference to Referred Law 19 could be an error, in which case I might mirthfully argue that it invalidates Mickelson’s statement of organization and prevents him from collecting any signatures until he fixes the error. (I’m not sure law says this explicitly, but Secretary Krebs’s official guidance on circulating ballot question petitions says you’ve got to have a statement of organization on file before circulating.)

However, I might also grant Mickelson leave for responding to confusing verb tense on the form:

If you are a  Ballot Question Committee, indicate which measure the committee was involved with during the reporting period and whether the measure was supported or opposed [Statement of Organization form, SOS, as used by POB-SD, 2017.07.24].

Was involved with? Was supported or opposed? Sponsors are filing statements to create organizations; they have no past tense. The question refers to “the reporting period,” which means right now, present tense. A ballot question committee can’t have been involved with past ballot measures, because in 2016, the Legislature followed the Board of Election’s bad advice and passed a law mandating termination of every ballot question committee after each election. Even if Mickelson had formed a committee to support Referred Law 19 in 2016 (he didn’t; Republicans essentially surrendered on RL 19), that committee could not be the one he’s organizing now. The Secretary of State should rewrite this form to make clear the information it is seeking.

Mickelson organized a second ballot question committee yesterday: “Tuition4TechStudents” will serve as the on-paper committee through which Mickelson will push his second ballot measure, a buck-a-pack tobacco tax increase to provide vo-tech tuition relief. We await Mickelson’s third statement of organization for the committee he’ll need for his third initiative, on dark-money disclosure.