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California Billionaire’s Mad Money Means Untargeted Mailers for Amendment S

When a California billionaire is dedicated to a vanity project, you get sloppy management.

Henry T. Nicholas is spending millions of dollars to promote Amendment S in South Dakota and identical unnecessary, costly complications of the criminal justice system in North Dakota and Montana. That money is putting grim gray flyers in lots of South Dakotans’ mailboxes.

Nicholas’s South Dakota campaign Jason Glodt sent one to conservative blogger Pat Powers’s house. But also sent one to me and to another avid Dakota Free Press reader. Any good campaigner would have a database showing that we aren’t persuadable voters and thus aren’t worth the relatively spendy proposition of a glossy card and postage.

Jason Glodt
Wasting Nicholas’s money now, wasting taxpayer dollars if we pass Amendment S.

But money apparently is no object for Nicholas, so Glodt is freed from the constraints of smart campaigning. As with the Nicholas/Glodt petition effort, these fearmongering postcards need no quality control or accountability. Glodt can just keep burning Nicholas’s money.

As attorney Ryan Kolbeck said in last week’s ballot question forum in Sioux Falls, Nicholas will spend recklessly to market his vanity bill in South Dakota, but we can’t count on him to pay for its implementation if we recklessly vote for it.


  1. Rorschach 2016-09-21 08:15

    Gas Monkey gets paid! Whew!! Where’s my beer assistant?

  2. Nick Nemec 2016-09-21 10:02

    I got the pro Amendment S flyer too. It’s a month and a half out from the election, he’s willing to spend a lot of money on this and I don’t see anyone willing to spend money against it.

  3. mike from iowa 2016-09-21 10:33

    Do the flyers have the new Star Trek postage stamps available at your local Post Office after September 2nd?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-21 19:11

    Nick, I’ve seen the S flyers around town poking out of mailboxes. One of my constituents called and asked if that was the redundant bill I talked about back when I knocked on her door last June. I said Yep!

    New Star Trek stamps? Cool! I need those for my campaign letters!

  5. John Wrede 2016-09-22 10:39

    For those of us that only tap into political commentary on some of these initiated measures and referendums on a more or less random basis, it would be highly beneficial for someone, with full understanding of all of them, to publish the positives and negatives of all of them along with a voting recommendation and a reason for the recommendation. It’s bad enough that there are two bills dealing with payday lending without all the rest of the stuff. To decide which one is a patent scam job and which one is a reasonable attempt to regulate predatory lending is more than enough to keep one’s mind going. It needs to be said that explaining something as a vanity project, redundantly attaching to SD’s Criminal Justice system, doesn’t help to understand what the failed purpose of the measure is. What is costly about the proposal and why is it unnecessary. Yes, we live, unfortunately, in a new world of sound bites and brevity but those two conditions don’t lend themselves well to the acquisition of wisdom.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-22 18:20

    Another S flyer hit SD mailboxes today. Same basic motif: scary-looking criminals coming to get us unless we vote for S. As Nick warns, it seems unlikely anyone will muster the same cash as an obsessed California billionaire to defeat this bad bill. Let’s just hope the voters listen to local sources and good sense, not high-priced fear tactics.

  7. Darin Larson 2016-09-23 08:14

    Untargeted mailers are the device for multimillionaires. The super wealthy use untargeted mailers and TV ads like those running for Marsy’s law quite regularly now. The TV ad is a scare tactic which suggests that crime victims may be surprised to run in to an offender who gets out of prison without notice to the victim.

    Instead of coming to the legislature with an analysis of SD law and suggestions to make it better, we have a billionaire coming to play in our little sandbox with a one size fits all constitutional amendment. Uff da.

  8. John Wrede 2016-09-23 10:52

    I did not intend to put the entire onus on you or your blog to explain the ins and outs of ballot measures. If you read it that way, I apologize! At the very least, my thought was that an unbiased, non-political organization (if there is such a thing any more) would choose to spend some analytical time and publish information for all voters. Yes, Jackley’s office is suppose to provide a brief explanation of the measures on the ballot but given the present state of politicization of everything under the sun, there is no assurance, at least in this state, of avoiding partisan slant in any explanation of these things. As an Independent, I would ask if the Democratic Party or perhaps both major parties in SD would undertake the task to publish their positions along side one another so that all voters (not just those active in partisan politics) have the opportunity to compare the commentary against each other. Just as an example, I have learned enough about V and a couple of others to understand the issue and decide how I will vote. All of the others remain nearly a mystery- both in intent and purpose. Fact of the matter is, there is so much political slight of hand, deception and nefariousness in all of this that any single point of view is not all that trustworthy in my estimation. e.g. The Rapid City Journal published an excellent article on Novstrups bill to “regulate” amuzement park and carnival rides. I learn, from the newspaper, that 1. Novstrup is in the business, 2. the bill is a farce and doesn’t do a thing to regulate anything, 3, protects his business interests from government oversight, 4 is insulting to nearly all other states regulatory efforts of carnivals and amusement parks, and 5., attempts to put up barriers to law suit that disable an individual’s right to redress of grievances… I’m rather sure that these measures all have some level of self dealing in them such as the scam this Novstrup bill advances but it takes good investigative reporting like what the Journal did (not near often enough and well enough in my opinion) to expose these nuances that simply escapes the average voter. As far as I’m concerned, this sort of corrupt, self dealing, seedy legislative and administrative behavior needs a thorough butt kicking and people like Novstrup need to be exposed for what they are. There is a measure in the hopper that supposedly deals with this sort of thing but I don’t know which one it is, nor do I understand the language in it. What I’m saying is that it would be helpful to the average voter to be exposed to the pro and con arguments side by side in order to make an more informed decision.

    By the way, I’d like to see some commentary on the most recent SDSM&T study on elevated levels of Uranium isotopes in Angostura Reservoir that match those of the Cheyenne River. The primary question to ask is; “Why does it take a full blown scientific study, conducted by grad students at one of the nations premiere engineering and mining schools, at great expense, to uncover elevated levels of irradiation, in a major irrigation water supply and immensely popular recreational lake and fishery with an adjacent State Park? What does USGS know about this that the rest of us don’t. (USGS monitors water quality and parameters in SD). Is USGS reporting regularly to the State and is the state ignoring the issue or does SD simply not have the regulatory tools, muscle and political will to address potential health hazards? Isn’t this the same scenario we face with the Big Sioux River? Worse yet, is USGS witholding information due to a muzzle order from somewhere? Being a former State and Federal employee, I can assure you that gag orders suppression of information by bureaus is routine SOP. You get one guess as to who’s ultimate responsibility it will be to clean up the mess and foot the bill for it. It is just one more Chapter in the Book that contains the Wasta Oil Well pipe dream………… Board of Minerals and Environment is just another extension of the State’s Office of Economic Development.
    Monitoring of uranium and radiated minerals in our water supplies is a routine, ongoing, state process and responsibility that has been in place for years in other states as a matter of responsible oversight of potential health hazards. In most respects, this revelation is no different than the lead issue in Flint and other Michigan municipalities and I think it highly important that our citizens know why State Government has either been unable or unwilling to detect this sort of thing in our water and why, these conditions have been allowed to perpetuate for these many years without reasonable and responsible intervention. Frankly, I see this negligence as a typical feud between the state and the federal government where the finger pointing and accusations of responsibility will begin to fly back and forth when we begin to understand more of the impacts of this on people, crops, livestock etc. The state is fully responsible for monitoring and remedial action with these sorts of environmental problems and I, along with a lot of other folks out here in the muddy Tea Party Trench, would like to know why wasn’t this detected with routine sampling and monitoring and why has the condition been allowed to proliferate since the 1960’s and 70’s.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-23 11:06

    No sweat, John! I’ll do my part. I agree that it would be great to have some other group or groups take on that challenge every year. I would be happy to convene a panel of South Dakota political party chairs—Ann Tornberg, Pam Roberts, Jon Boon, and Lora Hubbel and have them discuss each ballot measure. Publish that video on YouTube, publish the transcript of those discussions in every newspaper.

    SDPB is doing a program on the ballot measures. It will be on South Dakota Focus at the end of October. Their feature on Referred Law 20 will feature David Novstrup and me—interviewed separately.

    The corruption measure you are thinking of is IM 22, the Anti-Corruption Act. It is very hard to read—lots of strikes and insertions. offers a one-page summary, but it does a poor job of listing the specific policy actions that IM 22 writes into law. I’ve had to make my own summary charts of the changes in campaign finance limits, rules for accepting the Democracy Credits (two $50 public finance vouchers allotted to South Dakota voters to donate to candidates who follow stricter campaign finance rules), and new campaign finance reporting requirements. I don’t think there is any simple way to explain IM 22, because it does so much, and the details are the kinds of things that only election nerds like us really sink our teeth into!

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