While I agree in general with the “advice” Americans for Prosperity offers—ask questions and think about a ballot measure before you sign a petition to place it on the ballot—Pat Powers’s post of AFP’s warning contains one false statement:
Yes, circulators must be South Dakota residents. Yes, I support asking circulators where they are from and for whom they are working. However, no state law requires petition circulators to present driver’s licenses or any other form of photo ID. The only identifying information circulators must give citizens is the new statement mandated by a 2016 law telling “the name, phone number, and email address of each petition sponsor; and a statement whether the petition circulator is a volunteer or paid petition circulator and, if a paid circulator, the amount the circulator is being paid” (see SDCL 2-1-1.1 for initiated amendment circulators, SDCL 2-1-1.2 for initiated law circulators, and SDCL 2-1-3.1 for referendum circulators).
Circulators are asking you to write your name and address on a public document. If they won’t reciprocate with the same information about themselves, then they have no moral right to ask for your information. But there’s no must here, at least none that you can take to the cops or the courts.
“I developed really close relationships and friendships with the folks I work with in my chamber and, in fact, in both chambers, in the executive branch, and the thing is, that doesn’t really go away. My role just changes slightly. I fought for those things as a representative, as a legislator and I’ll continue to fight for those,” Haggar said [Dana Ferguson, “State Legislator Resigns, Accepts Job with Americans for Prosperity,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.06.27].
Note that under current law, SDCL 2-12-8.2, Haggar can’t come to Pierre and lobby for Americans for Prosperity next session the way Ben Lee has for the past few years. As currently written, the law says Haggar has to wait one year to register as a lobbyist. Had he waited until next week to resign, he’d have been subject to the new two-year sit-out period originally enacted by the voters in Initiated Measure 22, then repealed and replaced by the Legislature in this year’s Senate Bill 131, which Haggar did vote for in the House.
Whoo-hoo—new podcast! In this week’s awesome hour of audio from Dakota Free Press, local music teacher Joe Berns tells us what he learned about the Koch Brothers’ vision of “capitalism” at an astroturf meeting in Aberdeen last week. As he critiques some of the claims raised by the Americans for Prosperity speakers, Berns leads us through a delightful adventure in economic philosophy (and really, how could such a philosophical discussion not be delightful?) as we consider “systematic coercion,” slavery, class struggle, Germany, and how maybe healthy capitalism depends on strong labor unions to protect us workers from our corporate overlords… or a world in which there are no giant corporations and we all run our own businesses.
But first, co-host Spencer Dobson and I recap the Aberdeen election, Trump’s proposed cuts to rural economic development, Bob Ellis’s departure from right-wing blogging, and the First Amendment implications of blocking people from the President’s Twitter account. Listen here:
Below are resources for this week’s conversation. If you like what you hear, ring that Blog Tip Jarto help us make the podcast even better!
Aberdeen Election Results (and an invitation to Pope Francis and future contenders to the papacy to join us on the podcast!) [2:15]
In a real grassroots organization, participants share their ideas, define their own agenda, and compose their own messages. AFP is coming to Aberdeen to stuff the gullible with pizza (and Pizza Ranch chicken and mashed potatoes, I hope!) and prefab, focus-grouped talking points from Koch corporate HQ that will keep them from realizing that they are advocating for billionaires instead of themselves.
To review: Koch Brothers’ propaganda wing Americans for Prosperity provided 97% of the money spent to convince South Dakotans to vote against Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act. Their primary argument was that allocating up to $12 million every two years to voluntary public campaign financing and a state ethics commission would take tax dollars from other important public services.
“While passing a government funding bill during lame duck session under the threat of government shutdown is the wrong way to govern, it’s cause for celebration that this bill excludes several big-government priorities that Americans roundly rejected this year. It’s critical that Washington change business as usual and stop spending on corporate welfare to bail out failed Beltway programs or prop up favored industries and corporations. We’re glad to see this message starting to resonate in Congress as well, as they’ve protected past promises to cap discretionary spending and rejected efforts to make it easier for the Export-Import Bank to extend large, taxpayer-backed loans, or to bail out insurance companies under the president’s failed health care law.
“It’s also a victory for consumers that this bill does not include an internet sales tax, which would slap them with higher costs when they check out from their favorite online store [Americans for Prosperity, press release, 2016.12.07].
The two main images are repetitive and unclear. The text tries to tell us that politicians are coming to take our money, yet the handsome whiskery gentleman on the address side does not clearly reinforce that message. Whose money is that in his hand? Where did that money come from? Is he putting that money in his pocket or taking it out to buy that notepad and that really big Mac screen on the counter in front of him? No one can tell: it’s just a static image with no clear direction.
The larger graphic on the back tries to make clearer some sort of transaction with some guy cufflinked up as Uncle Sam. But is Uncle Sam taking that wallet or handing it back? Is the headless suit model a voter? If so, is he losing his money to Uncle Sam or getting Democracy Credits back from Uncle Sam to spend as he sees fit? Or might blue-tied torso be a political candidate? If so, is he getting a handout from Uncle Sam, or is Uncle Sam actually taking away his wallet full of corrupting campaign cash from special interests like the Koch Brothers? And what is Uncle Sam doing here, anyway? The Anti-Corruption Act is a state measure, not some federal law, right?
Bonus critique: the postcard is gender-biased, depicting all men. Aren’t women affected by the Anti-Corruption Act?
Americans for Prosperity doesn’t write any more clearly than it designs. The card indicts itself, saying Initiated Measure 22 means “more politics as usual—more TV ads, more postcards, and more robocalls….” Defeat22.com sniffs dismissively at campaign mailers… with a campaign mailer. Hilarious.
Similarly contradictory is the first line of their Web content:
Politically-connected special interest groups are up to no good [Americans for Prosperity, Defeat22.com, downloaded 2016.07.11].
Here, for one brief, shining moment, the Koch Brothers actually tell the truth: Defeat22.com’s backers are politically connected, they are special interest groups, and they are up to no good.
The rest of their text is hogwash. Let’s do the line-by-line:
Measure 22 will allow big spending politicians to take millions of our taxpayer dollars and send it to political campaigns:
The Anti-Corruption Act actually limits campaign spending. To participate in small-donor public financing, “big spending politicians” have to limit the size of donations they take ($250 cap for Legislative candidates; $500 cap for statewide candidates). No candidate gets “millions” from the Anti-Corruption Act; IM 22’s “Democracy Credits” are limited to $700K for gubernatorial candidates, $175K for candidates for attorney general, $75K for Secretary of State and Public Utilities Commissioner, $50K for treasurer, $25K for auditor, and $15K for legislators and Commissioner of School and Public Lands.
Forcing us to fund political TV ads and intrusive automated calls
The Anti-Corruption Act forces no one to fund political advertising. Citizens volunteer to participate in the Democracy Credits program. Citizens can give their two $50 Democracy Credits to the candidate or candidates of their choice, or they can leave that money on the shelf.
Funding even more wasteful government spending
What waste? Arguably, the Anti-Corruption Act means candidates spend less money overall, which means (following the Kochs’ thesis here that political ads are bad) less waste of our time with political ads and phone calls. The Anti-Corruption Act even prevents waste within campaigns: participating candidates can’t convert Democracy Credits to personal use the way they can currently convert campaign funds; they must spend the Democracy Credits on legitimate campaign expenses or give the money back.
Taking away tax dollars from funding our roads, bridges, and schools
The Anti-Corruption Act does not mandate any reduction in the budgets for roads, bridges, or schools.
Forces you to add your name to a government database
Now the Kochs are just making stuff up. You don’t have to add your name to a government database unless you are a lobbyist. The lobbyist database already exists; IM 22 simply makes it more transparent and informative. IM 22 does create a secure online system for assigning and possibly issuing Democracy Credits to voters, but that system would only work with data already available to the public in the voter registration list.
Opens you to harassment for making voluntary donations to charitable causes.
Here the Kochs pile lie upon lie to attack Section 16(2)(e) of the Anti-Corruption Act. This provision mandates that anyone who donates to an organization to fund political communications must give that organization full name, address, and employer so that organization can fulfill new campaign finance reporting guidelines. Nothing in Section(2)(e) deals with “charitable” donations, and nothing in IM 22 says those donors will be contacted, much less harassed, by the new state ethics commission; it only makes public how much those organizations spend to influence elections and public policy… which is the last thing the Kochs and other special interests want.
Measure 22 is another government money grab to fund political campaigns using your tax dollars.
IM 22 is the opposite of a “government money grab”: it hands money back to voters and says, “Here, you decide how you want to spend your tax dollars. If you want to use it to fund a candidate or two who represents your values and will do a good job in office, go for it. If you want to leave that money in the kitty for next election or for use in roads and schools, that’s your choice.” IM 22 recognizes that these are your tax dollars and gives you more say in how your tax dollars are spent.
Ben Lee of the South Dakota branch of Americans for Prosperity is getting who-knows-how-much money from the Koch Brothers to pump out this low-quality propaganda. I’m getting no special-interest dollars to tell you the truth. The Kochs and other special interests oppose the Anti-Corruption Act because they oppose you. They don’t want you taking away their secret, big-money influence over how your tax dollars are spent.
And if the Kochs are anti-Anti-Corruption… well, logic says two antis make a pro… and in South Dakota there are plenty of special interests who are pros at corruption.
Following up on my story yesterday on the Koch brothers’ revving up to oppose Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, Jonathan Ellis notes that the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the Retailers Association are joining Americans for Prosperity’s effort to prevent South Dakotans from voting for lobbying reform, a statewide ethics commission, and a voluntary small-donation public financing system for political campaigns.
Apparently, they’re also planning to park airplanes on our doors:
Ben Lee, the chairman of Defeat 22 and the state director for Americans for Prosperity, said the coalition planned to start an advertising blitz on Friday that included radio ads, mailers and door hangars to begin educating voters about the measure [Jonathan Ellis, “Political Heavyweights Join Forces to Oppose Ballot Measure,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.07.08].
Door hangars—I want to see that landing! But I’m going to need some stronger hinges.
Thune: Amendment V is an attempt by South Dakota Democrats to hide candidate party affiliation on the ballot from voters. Rather than run on their party’s principles and policies it seems they are desperately looking for a way to run from them. I’m opposing Amendment V because I believe voters deserve more transparency on their ballot, not less.
Daugaard: I believe political parties – all parties – serve an important role in our democracy. They crystalize issues. They bring like-minded people together. They help the electorate make sense of the electoral system.
Of course, if Thune really believed in transparency and if Daugaard really believed in supporting all parties, they would support allowing candidates to designate more than just state-sanctioned party labels to appear next to their names on the ballot. They would support my right to identify myself to voters on the ballot as “teacher, writer, corruption fighter, and Sanders/Kucinich/Wellstone/McGovern Democrat” rather than just the far less illuminating “Democrat.” Thune and Daugaard would let more Earthy candidates call themselves “Green” to promote formation of a new party.
Much of the Republican opposition to Amendment V is purely partisan: Amendment V comes from Democrat Rick Weiland, so Amendment V must be bad. I assume the Republicans will grant me the same latitude to say that Amendment S is bad because is comes from Republican Jason Glodt.
So to review: the Republicans don’t want more people to be able to participate in primary elections, and they don’t want us to fight corruption. Those two positions should make clear the Republican desire to protect its pocket-lining hegemony… and our popular obligation to rise above such partisan scheming and pass both open non-partisan primaries and the Anti-Corruption Act.
All you can eat for five bucks is a heck of a deal. An eager reader suggests that it would almost be cost-effective to close down operations at the Banquet in Sioux Falls or the Mission in Rapid those nights, buy tickets for the local homeless and low-income folks, and send them over to have AFP dinner. Maybe Floyd “Deacon Pete” Pickett will return to Sioux Falls to serve the homeless on Monday. A full five-dollar meal would certainly be more filling than the coffee and fineries he bought for his flock at Josiah’s last summer.
And when the federal money dries up—there’s the fundamental lie of the ad. When—I invite Pat and the Koch Brothers and everyone else out there to tell me when in the last 50 years the money for Medicaid has dried up.
Show me an instance in the 50 years of Medicaid’s existence when Congress and the President have said, “Surprise! States, you’re funding Medicaid on your own this year!”
I’m still waiting.
As we wait, I note that the only Washington folks I’ve seen who have threatened to break the Medicaid promise appear to be Paul Ryan and other Republicans whom the Koch brothers like.
Ancillarily hilarious is AFP’s claim to be concerned that they are worried about cuts to funding for public education. Ha! The Kochs want cuts to public education so they can privatize the education system.
We managed not to be fooled by Big Loan Shark Money on the payday lenders’ bill yesterday; let’s not be fooled by Big Koch Money on Medicaid expansion. Medicaid isn’t going away… at least not as long as we stop the Koch brothers from buying Congress. Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Medicaid/Indian Health Service plan swap is unnecessarily complicated, but it saves South Dakota $158 million over the first five years. We can fund a fair amount of teacher pay and pothole-patch with that money.
Americans for Prosperity is lying to us. Ignore them and support real prosperity for all South Dakotans.