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Republicans Signal More Campaign Finance Bills in 2018

The Aberdeen American News interviews local legislators—

AAN headline, 2017.04.05.
AAN headline, 2017.04.05.

—oops! Wrong headline…

Today’s front-pager has area Republicans signaling they want to revisit campaign finance, an issue on which they ran counter to the wishes expressed by voters last November.

Senate Pro-Tem Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) looks forward to forwarding campaign finance limits:

“Where we didn’t accomplish what I hoped was on campaign finance limits going forward,” said Sen. Greenfield, R-Clark. “We certainly have our charge going forward to work on during the summer and make recommendations” [Elisa Sand, “South Dakota Lawmakers Expect Campaign Finance Back in ’18,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.04.05].

The forward-looking Senator Greenfield does not say what sort of limits he would forward.

Rookie Representative Drew Dennert (R-3/Aberdeen) repeats what he told the Dakota Free Press last week about his desire to require candidates to file pre-primary reports even if they don’t have primary opponents. Initiated Measure 22 would have imposed exactly that requirement; Rep. Dennert and his party repealed that requirement and everything else in IM22. Dennert’s Republican leadership neglected to apply Dennert’s desired universal pre-primary reporting requirement to themselves in Senate Bill 54, but they made sure to include such a new requirement for ballot question committees, because they hate ballot questions.

Rookie Representative Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham) promotes the Legislature’s war on ballot questions by promising to take another swing at violating the Constitution by limiting contributions from non-South Dakotans:

The intent was not to squash the initiated measure process, he said. Instead, he wanted to preserve the process that was intended to give South Dakotans a way to present their own laws.

Gosch said more than 84 percent of the money spent on 2016 ballot measure campaigns came from out-of-state sources.

“We need to wrangle it back and bring it back to what our forefathers wanted,” he said [Sand, 2017.04.05].

Representative Gosch, if you try passing another law like your failed HB 1074 restricting First Amendment activities based on the state from which the speakers hail, I guarantee that the courts will wrangle and bring the law back to what it was before your bill.

Senate Bill 171 did establish a task force to spend this summer discussing campaign finance. We can hope that task force will deter folks like Gosch from fouling our statutes with unconstitutional policy. But we must spend our summer watching for other proposals (like the approval of corporate donations to candidates in this year’s Senate Bill 54) that Greenfield and other incumbents will use to protect their access to big money and box out challengers.


  1. Donald Pay 2017-04-05 09:42

    One way to preserve the initiative process for South Dakotans and limit contributions: vote against Neil Gorshuch, and any one righty legal hack who views money as speech. Otherwise, these Republicans are just blowing smoke up your rear end.

  2. Mark Winegar 2017-04-05 19:38

    They are just creating a lot of fog to hide behind.

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