Oh, Jennifer Hagebock, how can you?
We met late Thursday afternoon in the Kessler’s parking lot here in Aberdeen. You were wearing your South Dakota driver’s license, issued August 7, 2015, on your lapel. It said and you said you are from Sioux Falls. You were working with a gang of four women with accents, including one who sat in a big white SUV with Idaho plates, intently scanning her phone.
You were circulating the fake 18%-rate-cap petition. You told me you were fighting the real 36% rate cap petition, which you and your gang said would stick people with exorbitant and outrageous interest rates. You said your petition would protect South Dakotans from high interest rates. One of your helpers (the young woman who said she wasn’t going to vote for the 18% rate cap) handed me the 36%-vs-18% flyer that claims your petition would “prevent unfair lending practices” with a “stricter cap on interest rates.”
You were, of course, lying. Your petition creates no real rate cap; it actually outlaws rate caps like the one proposed in the real 36%-rate-cap petition that you are trying to sabotage.
You lied like your coworkers in Brookings. You were lying to me. You were lying to all of the South Dakotans whose signatures you and your gang sought in the Kessler’s parking lot, where you were trespassing. (I checked with Kessler’s management: they had no knowledge that you were there, and as I learned last month after following up on the last shady circulator team I saw there, Kessler’s does not allow any petitioning on its private property. You must have known this, because after I questioned you and went inside, you and your gang drove away.)
How can you do that, Jennifer? How can you lie to your fellow South Dakotans? Do you find it easier to drive all the way from Sioux Falls with your gang and lie to mostly strangers in Aberdeen?
Jennifer, did money make you do it? If so, think ahead: your $15-an-hour checks from Silver Bullet LLC or Encore Political Services or whoever else is laundering the payday lending industry’s money to pay you to walk the streets will be gone by the end of next month. All you’ll have left is the knowledge that you let people pay you to lie to your fellow South Dakotans. You are taking money to do evil.
Money may be tight, Jennifer. Maybe you’re between jobs, have some unexpected expense, and desperately need that $15 an hour. Maybe the payday lenders are using your desperation the same way they use the working poor whom they hook with the deceitful loans your petition is trying to protect.
But you still own the evil you’re doing, Jennifer… and you can stop that evil. Don’t get in the white SUV today. Don’t sneak into some grocery store parking lot, hoping management won’t notice. Don’t lie to your neighbors, your fellow South Dakotans. Shred your petition sheets, go home, and get an honest job.
* * *
Maybe I overestimate the power of human conscience, but if Jennifer Hagebock can feel any remorse over the evil she is doing, petition sponsor Lisa Furlong from North Sioux City must feel even worse. Lisa Furlong signed her name to the petition and ballot question committee that launched this statewide campaign of deceit and intimidation. Lisa Furlong has issued the lies for circulators to tell. Lisa Furlong has unleashed petition “blockers” whose tactics are so vile that I hear one 36%-rate-cap petitioner has obtained a protection order requiring petition mercenary Hiram Asmuth to stop harassing him.
It is perfectly understandable that Lisa Furlong has avoided media scrutiny. Aside from one propaganda session with a usury-friendly conservative blog, Furlong has refused requests from this blog and other media for interviews. She has not responded to real 36% rate cap sponsor Steven Hildebrand’s invitation, issued September 30, to hold three debates around the state to educate the public about the competing rate cap proposals. If I were responsible for such lies and thuggery across the state, I’d want to hide under a rock as well.
But you know, Lisa, you can come out from under that rock and free yourself from all this grief as easily as Jennifer. You are the sole sponsor of the fake 18%-rate-cap petition. Per SDCL 2-1-1.1, you must sign an affidavit that must accompany the petition. Without that affidavit, the Secretary of State cannot consider the petition or place the measure on the ballot. Or, per SDCL 2-1-2.2, you can withdraw your petition.
Right your wrongs, Lisa. Get the press off your back. Refuse to sign the affidavit. Send Secretary Krebs a notarized withdrawal letter. Send all the circulators back to Idaho and Vegas and Switzerland and let the 36% rate cap petition sink or swim on its own merits.