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18% Rate-Cap Decoy Petition Circulating Illegally at Sioux Empire Fair

Someone is committing petition fraud at the Sioux Empire Fair. A Dakota Free Press correspondent sends this video of two men trying to trick fairgoers into signing a fake initiative petition:

Fairgoers, these two men are lying to you. They are not circulating a legitimate ballot measure petition. As of the date of this video, Sunday, August 3, 2015, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has not authorized the circulation of any petition dealing with an 18% interest rate cap. We know that Lisa Furlong of North Sioux City has submitted such a petition to Attorney General Marty Jackley for review, but until the AG submits his explanation (he has until September 11) and the SOS approves, no one may collect signatures on that 18%-rate-cap petition, and any signatures collected are invalid. These men are thus breaking South Dakota law.

Notice that these two gentlemen very clearly distinguish their petition from the entirely legitimate and circulating petition seeking a 36% interest rate cap (“Hildebrand is the 36”), although they try very hard to say their petition and the legitimate one “are the same concept.” These two circulators say their petition seeks to place their 18% rate cap on the ballot. They cannot sufficiently explain the petition to the fairgoer asking questions (“I don’t know the exact lingo, but there are some things that are slightly different”). They do not offer the form containing the Attorney General’s explanation of the measure that SDCL 2-1-1.1 and SDCL 2-1-1.2 require them to provide to each person signing the petition.

To their credit, the circulators seem not to be explicitly discouraging fairgoers from signing both petitions. They tell the fairgoer at their table in this video that she can sign both petitions.

These circulators have no idea how many signatures are required to get the measure on the ballot. “I think it might be 5,000 to get on the ballot”? Uff da: if they were carrying the Furlong petition for a constitutional amendment, they would need 27,741 signatures, a figure that any circulator ought to be able to ball park.

But that number is irrelevant: the petition shown in this video is not legitimate. Signatures placed on it count for nothing. The men sitting at this table at the Sioux Empire Fair are deceiving voters. Fairgoers should avoid this fraud go to Booth #22, operated by South Dakotans for Responsible Lending, to sign the real, legitimate, 36% interest rate cap initiative petition.

Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

Update 15:03 CDT: A correspondent checks out the bogus 18% petition at the Sioux Empire Fair, turns the page, and discovers… nothing!

Bogus decoy petition, offered by circulators of petition claiming to cap payday loans rates at 18%, Sioux Empire Fair, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2015.08.03.
Bogus decoy petition, offered by circulators of petition claiming to cap payday loans rates at 18%, Sioux Empire Fair, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2015.08.03.

The petition sheets these circulators have are all laid out to display what appears to be the back page of the standard petition form recommended by the Secretary of State, with what from this photo and the above video appears to include the standard grid for collecting voter information, as well as the circulator’s oath and space for notary seal at the bottom. If this were a legitimate petition, the reverse would be the front side, listing the proposed statutory language and instructions to signers. The sheet at the top of this stack on the blue clipboard appears to be blank on the back, meaning it is not a legitimate petition for any ballot initiative.


  1. Rorschach 2015-08-02 15:24

    Wow! This is pure and unadulterated fraud! State authorities ought to shut these guys down and do it now. Does our Attorney General have his usual booth at the fair? His staff ought to mosey on over to this booth with DCI and do their duty.

  2. Rorschach 2015-08-02 15:35

    The person who took this video ought to go back and publicly tell these guys with camera rolling that their petition is fraudulent and illegal with no front page containing the text of the petition and the date of the election, and no authorization from the AG, and that they are violating the law by circulating without providing copies to signers. On video they should be asked if they will wait for authorities to arrive, while somebody summons the AG’s representatives. Then just stand back and watch with camera rolling.

  3. Rorschach 2015-08-02 15:45

    And hey! Send the Argus, KELO, KSFY, KDLT to talk to these jokers. Wonder who they work for?

  4. 96Tears 2015-08-02 15:46

    Jackley … Jackley … Ja — never mind. These goons are protected by deep pockets. They are not running against any of the annointed power clique in Pierre.

    Move along folks. Nothing here to see. It’s just a couple loan shark saps trying to make a living.

  5. grudznick 2015-08-02 18:06

    If these fellows are actually in cahoots with Mr. Jackley then it will be tough to stop them, but I doubt they are in cahoots with Mr. Jackley. I think that’s just fringe insaner than most paranoia. But no doubt that an 18% cap seems better than a 36% cap. It would be twice as good, right?

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-02 18:34

    Grudz, please review the text of the petition proposed by Lisa Furlong:

    That proposal headlines an 18% interest rate cap, but more importantly, it includes an opt-out provision, allowing any borrower to sign a contract agreeing to a higher interest rate. That opt-out clause renders the rate cap effectively meaningless. The Furlong petition also amends the Constitution to supersede any other limits on interest rates, meaning that it would negate the genuine 36% rate cap proposed by the petition started by Hildebrand and Hickey. If the Furlong proposal is the proposal that the circulators depicted above are peddling, they are proposing something far less useful to South Dakotans and far more in the interest of the payday lenders. It is not a rate cap; it is a way to outlaw any rate cap and write their predatory lending into our constitution.

  7. Douglas Wiken 2015-08-02 20:02

    This may be a name and address harvesting scheme or perhaps another variety of scheme the outfit that hit the restaurant with the “homeless”.

  8. grudznick 2015-08-02 20:21

    We should not legislate away people’s rights to sign contracts they want to sign, no matter how stupid those people are. Soon, you will tell us all that you know what is best for us to eat, and then what you want us to think.

  9. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-02 22:09

    My guess is they will not show their faces tomorrow.

  10. Nick Nemec 2015-08-02 22:16

    The depth of the deceit of the payday loan lenders should not surprise us. They are as crooked as they come and will do anything they can to maintain their evil business model.

  11. mike from iowa 2015-08-03 07:49

    Why not let payday lenders to ply their victims with drugs or alcohol beforehand? I am sure there are numerous intelligent folks in the world that can’t comprehend the legal mishmash of contract laws. Why allow vultures to seek out and prey on desperate humans?

    Most states now have lemon laws to protect consumers from unscrupulous car dealers.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-03 08:00

    We don’t have the evidence that these petitioners are paid by the payday lenders… although who else would be bankrolling this fake petition? I’m feeling a Bosworth moment coming on: if we can’t trust these guys to take signatures on a legitimate petition, how can we trust them to take signatures on business contracts? How do we know that if a dude walks in to sign for a payday loan, the gal at the desk won’t hand him a fake sheet, get his signature on it, then photocopy onto the blank back of that sheet some awful contract with all sorts of conditions that the borrower didn’t hear or sign for?

    On the law side, consider that this fake petition doesn’t just deceive but also disenfranchises. They are creating confusion and fear in the petition process, deterring people from signing petitions and supporting ballot measures in general. They are undermining the ability of South Dakotans to exercise their legislative power through petitions and ballot measures. They are also undermining our confidence in the petition process for candidates: people may look at this fake petition and be more wary of candidates come January. At the point where these fake petitioners deter voters from signing all other petitions, these fake petitioners are disenfranchising voters and hurting democracy. I don’t know which state law or federal law (Voting Rights Act?) we prosecute them under, but we should prosecute them to protect the integrity of petitions and the electoral process.

  13. Rod Hall 2015-08-03 08:27

    Looks like these fakes should be hit with 50 felonies and a $1 million fine plus 1000 hours of community service. Figure their service value at $7 an hour. Bosworth serves 500 hours at a reasonable Medical Doctor value of $200 and hour which equates to a $100,000 fine, not chicken feed.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-03 09:01

    Rod, I’m not sure which statutes can be applied here. So far, from the available evidence, they have not committed the felony violations of the circulator’s oath that Annette Bosworth did. But they are damaging the integrity of the petition process, and should be punished at least as harshly as Bosworth.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-03 14:54

    Hmm… 96, do we have evidence that the guys at this fair booth are using wires/telecommunications for their efforts?

  16. Melissa Mentele 2015-08-03 23:27

    Just an FYI they approached me Friday during our set up/load in at the Expo building they are paying 13.00 base and 20.00 with incentives for those guys to circulate at the fair. The lady who spoke with me wasnt really happy after I pointed out that they are a bunch of scam artists and they should be ashamed of misleading people……I may or may not have went and poked that bear a few times today enroute to get a funnel cake….turns out they dont like photos, questions or you flipping the page over and checking for the language…..I like funnel cakes and we have 6 more days to venture their way ;-)

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-04 06:47

    Melissa, thank you so much for poking that bear! Feel free to take all the photos you want and flip those pages! I’d love to see (and publish) those photos… and get names if possible! I’d also like to know what incentives they are offering and whether those incentive conform with law.

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