Those sneaky payday lenders! I spend a day incommunicado on another project, and they get their flunkies to file their challenge to Initiated Measure 21, the real 36% rate cap that would put a serious crimp on their loan-sharking.
Actually, if you check out the date/timestamp, Aaron Lorenzen and Craig S. Olson slipped their petition challenge under the door right at closing time yesterday, January 27, at 5 p.m., that absolute last minute before the challenge deadline:
Aaron Lorenzen bailed out of Jason Gant’s corrupt Secretary of State’s office in in summer 2012, just like Gant flunky Pat Powers, when beleaguered Secretary Gant realized he needed to hire some experienced election officials to bail him out. Lorenzen now appears to work in rural video surveillance in Faulkton, complete with a website designed by BPro, a company that provided Gant’s office and Republican campaigns with tech services. Craig S. Olson has one of those cursedly unGooglable names, but a Craig S. Olson who lives on Dakota Avenue in Sioux Falls circulated the fake 18% rate cap petition last fall, and apparently wanted to take another swing at fouling his fellow South Dakotans’ effort to protect their neighbors from usury.
Olson and Lorenzen both swing and miss. The real 36% rate cap circulators submitted 20,800 signatures. Secretary Krebs calculated 19,936 submitted signatures and 17,222 valid signatures. That 13.61% error rate is the best for any ballot measure effort in 2015… largely because the dedicated volunteers working for 36% rate cap sponsors Steven Hildebrand, Steve Hickey, and Reynold Nesiba actually gave a darn about the issue and circulated their petitions with integrity.
Lorenzen and Olson try to stretch that error rate to 38.16%. Lorenzen identifies 7,607 “objectionable” signatures on the real 36% rate cap petition, leaving only 12,329 valid signatures, 1,542 fewer than the required 13,871 signatures.
The largest single line item in Lorenzon’s catalog of objectionables is Point #27 in his affidavit, citing 3,429 signatures on sheets on which “verification dates were obstructed by the notary seal and therefore unreadable.”
What, like this?
Or like this?
I could go there, fellas, on probably half of the petition sheets sitting in the Secretary of State’s office right now. You and I and anybody who’s carried a petition knows there’s no neat place for the notary seal. It’s designed that way. The notary seal really ought to cover some of the circulator’s ink so we know the circulator didn’t try to write over that seal after the notary stamped that document.
This seal-obstruction challenge, 45% of Lorenzen’s objection, is silly. Throw just this one argument out (and the Secretary and the courts will), and the IM 21 petition bounces right back above the minimum by 1,887 signatures.
The next biggest whopper (yup, both meanings) is Lorenzen’s attempt to disqualify 2,946 signatures on the basis of Olson’s claim that he went knocking on circulator’s doors (that’s what I told you the payday lenders were doing last week) and did not find Reynold Nesiba, Steve Hickey, or Kristen Hickey at the addresses they listed on sheets they circulated. Lorenzen alleges other bad addresses (including P.O. boxes, which are acceptable for signers from towns smaller than 5,000 but not for any circulators), but the Nesiba and Hickey addresses are the only ones evidenced in these affidavits.
Hey, fellas—people do move. Everybody knows that Steve Hickey is studying in Scotland. Nesiba is still professing at Augustana. If the residence addresses they put on their petitions were accurate at the time they got those petitions notarized, then Olson’s January door-knocking results mean nothing. Olson needs to get in his time machine, go back to the notarization date (if he can read it under that blasted notary obstruction! Oh, woe!), and knock and see if Doc Brown or the Morlocks answer.
I don’t know how many signatures Hickey, Hickey, and Nesiba collected, but if they account for half of those challenged circulator addresses, then Lorenzen loses nearly 1,500 of those challenges, and all the rest of the Lorenzen/Olson objections basically affirm Secretary Krebs’s calculation of valid signatures.
The only people with an interest in keeping you, South Dakota, from having the opportunity to vote on the real 36% rate cap are the payday lenders who fear they can’t make an honest case and win an honest vote. Secretary Krebs and her team will now spend a week or so in the middle of a busy Session and preparations for April’s municipal and school board elections scrolling through the payday lenders’ spaghetti to verify that not nearly enough of it will stick to the wall.