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PAC-Candidate Coordination OK in South Dakota—Dennert Can Endorse Self via PCPAC!

Drew Dennert, Prairie Country PAC board member, endorsing himself?
Drew Dennert, Prairie Country PAC board member, endorsing himself? (screen cap 2016.05.31)

In our discussion of Aberdeen-based Prairie Country PAC’s postcard attacking Caleb Finck for wearing women’s clothes (a mailing PCPAC has since scrubbed from its Facebook page), some readers got me wondering if PCPAC had coordinated its attack with Finck’s primary opponent, PCPAC-endorsed Stace Nelson. One might also wonder if we can accuse PCPAC of coordinating with Drew Dennert’s District 3 House campaign, given that PCPAC is endorsing Dennert and that Dennert is a member of PCPAC (that information has been scrubbed from PCPAC’s Facebook page since last week, but Dennert’s LinkedIn page still says he is a PCPAC board member) and donated $180 to PCPAC this primary season.

I got to wondering of South Dakota campaign finance law, such that it is, restricts coordination between PACs and candidates the way that federal election law does. SDCL 12-27-16 requires that independent expenditures on behalf of candidates include a disclaimer stating that “the communication is independently funded and not made in consultation with any candidate, political party, or political committee….” That language suggests an expectation that PACs and candidates not coordinate.

However, in his report on the Jensen draft-dodging controversy in the District 33 Senate race, Seth Tupper learns that South Dakota candidates and PACs are free to coordinate:

Even if Adelstein and Sly had coordinated their efforts, they would not be in violation of any state laws or regulations, said Jason Williams, of the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. He said there are no state prohibitions against coordination between political action committees and candidates [Seth Tupper, “Campaign Flyer: Sen. Jensen Dodged Draft During Vietnam War,” Rapid City Journal, 2016.05.27].

So if PCPAC did work with Stace to distribute those darling pictures of Caleb, they’ve violated no campaign finance rule. And Drew can endorse himself through his own PAC.


  1. Steve Sibson 2016-05-31 10:44

    “That language suggests an expectation that PACs and candidates not coordinate.”

    Cory, what happens if that coordination happens after the candidate is elected and it is time to vote on legislation?

  2. Rorschach 2016-05-31 10:47

    That’s not the first time Dennert has endorsed himself. He endorses his bad self every day – sometimes more than once. He’s not gonna quit. It’s normal.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-31 12:30

    Steve, your question is not germane to the campaign finance question at hand. But if you’re worried about the influence of lobbyists and PACs, (1) vote for Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, and (2) get back to serious blogging on the campaign finance reports.

  4. Stace Nelson 2016-06-01 19:57

    Drew is a very sharp man. I have known him going on 4 years and I can say that he has a better grasp of the issues, and a natural conservative stance, than most Repulican politicians ever achieve.

    Ironic? No, disgusting that establishment RINOs support cross-dressing in one establishment candidate while attacking an actual conservative candidate like Mr Dennert for being a grass roots actual conservative Republican.

  5. grudznick 2016-06-01 21:18

    Young Mr. Dennert can only hope to be as conservative and true as is his grandpappy.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-06-02 07:14

    Careful, Stace: saying that Finck backers “support cross-dressing” is like saying the District 3 majority who will vote for me like salmon. I have had salmon for supper on a few occasions (most recently Tuesday night!), but that activity outside of my campaign has nothing to do with the preferences of my voters. The visual attack waged by Drew and his PAC on your behalf has visceral impact for mocking your opponent but no logical policy content that you should want to make explicit.

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