Kennecke Busts Illegal Petition Circulators

KELO-TV anchor turned investigative reporter Angela Kennecke (this is more fun, right, Angela?) catches up with this blog and finds bunches of hired contractors illegally circulating petitions and disenfranchising South Dakota voters.

Kennecke finds petition circulators claiming to be from California and Switzerland. Then she turns to Secretary of State Shantel Krebs:

“Number one, if you are going to be a circulator for ballot petitions, you must be 18 years of age and you must be a South Dakota Resident,” South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said [Angela Kennecke, “Who’s Really Asking for Your Signature?” KELO-TV, 2015.09.16].

Kennecke notes that any such illegally circulated petitions will be thrown out if citizens challenge those petitions when submitted. I would suggest that Secretary Krebs should grab Attorney General Marty Jackley and start roadtripping to Sioux Falls and Rapid City once or twice a week for some proactive enforcement of petition laws. Flash a badge or two, and these bogus petitioners will run like the Switzerland dude in Kennecke’s report…

Action News! Angela Kennecke chases an illegal petition circulator for the best South Dakota television this year! Screen cap from KELO-TV, 2015.09.16.
Action News! Angela Kennecke chases an illegal petition circulator for the best South Dakota television this year! Screen cap from KELO-TV, 2015.09.16.

…while the legitimate petitioners will happily stand and ensure your signature counts.

Lucy-George Cooper—she's legit! Sign every petition she's carrying!
Lucy-George Cooper—she’s legit! She’s following every rule! Sign every petition she’s carrying!

Kennecke checks in with paragon of civic virtue Ryan Gaddy (Angela, really? Lucy-George Cooper is on the street, and you talk to Gaddy?) on the real harm these out-of-state contractors may do to South Dakota’s election process:

While we didn’t catch up with him, Gaddy says whether you agree with his cause or not, he’s worried about what these out-of-state contractors are doing to the democratic process.

“I think it’s going to cause a lot of distrust in the petition process in South Dakota. And this is one thing we have as South Dakotans, when our legislature doesn’t want to move on an issue–we as the people can push the issue. And that’s great for democracy,” Gaddy said [Kennecke, 2015.09.16].

Actually, Gaddy says it pretty well. Ballot measures are essential democratic tools for South Dakota voters. A few lawbreaking petitioners make it harder for law-abiding petitioners to help South Dakotans launch ballot measures. Lawbreakers make the public leery of good petitions and good petitioners. And when these bad circulators collect signatures illegally, they disenfranchise those signers who think they are helping win an opportunity to exercise their vote. (Again, AG Jackley, you hate disenfranchisement—get in the car with SOS Krebs and go catch some of these disenfranchisers!)

One quibble with this story: when California dude tells Kennecke he’s circulating “the payday loan petition,” Kennecke does not ask him which payday loan petition. Since he says he’s circulating the Marsy’s Law petition as well, it is likely he meant the fake 18%-rate-cap petition, which as Matt Hildreth helped document yesterday, circulators appear to be using as bait to win signatures for the sleazy, deceptive 18% sham petition.

The petition process can use more scrutiny like this. Reporters, by all means, any time you us petitioners standing on the street or at a weekend event soliciting signatures, you should come up and grill us. Ask us who we are, where we’re from, what our petitions are about, and what good they’ll do for South Dakota. We legitimate South Dakota circulators will be happy to answer every question on the record, make the six-o’clock news with our petition drives, and take your signatures (assuming you are registered South Dakota voters, of course).

12 Responses to Kennecke Busts Illegal Petition Circulators

  1. It is indeed good that journalists like young Ms. Kennecke is out there chasing petition mongers. We have far too many of these initiated petitions and it needs to stop.

  2. I just watched this, I think Angela was a little over-dressed to chase down illegal petitioners. I’m just saying.

  3. Jeff Barth

    By the time the kid ran Angela had already caught him. Good job Angela!!

  4. I tipped her off. . . I have many screen shots you would be interested in. These people are making it hard on legit SD citizens!

  5. Cory, I have screen shots of these petition company guys plotting to break the law. . . Knowingly! 507-220-2202

  6. Karen McGregor

    The various petition carriers have been getting into squabbles outside the Pennington County Administration Building and the auditor and deputy sheriffs have had to referee.

  7. Ryan, send that evidence! I’ll call after breakfast.

  8. Karen, what sort of squabbles? Is anyone interfering with anyone else’s circulation?

  9. Deb Geelsdottir

    Good work Cory, Angela and Ryan. SD officials have some good evidence now. They should be investigating pronto. In the meantime, the legit petition circulators ought to be immediately showing their SD ID to everyone they talk to. That way they can be clear about their bona fidés and eliminate, or at least diminish doubt.

  10. A week ago, while walking downtown by 9th, I, and others, were stopped by a young couple asking to hire people, at $15/hr, to witness the signatures they gather. I didn’t probe, and should have. Sounded fishy…witness signatures?

  11. Good job, Ryan! Tell everyone you can these guys and their petitions are phonies.