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Aberdeen City Council Candidates Generally Bad at Disclosing Financial Interests

A month after Aberdeen’s local election, Elisa Sand notes that three of our ten local city council candidates went above and beyond campaign finance requirements to actually report how much they spent on their city council campaigns. Aberdeen does not require city candidates to report their campaign spending, but winners Dave Lunzman and Clint Rux and loser Tim Prater filed reports anyway. Lunzman spent $2,005, Rux spent $1,702, and Prater spent $1,220.

The only papers city council candidates have to file other than their nominating petitions are their statements of financial interest. This requirement applies to “Any candidate for county commissioner, school board member in a school district with a total enrollment of more than two thousand students, or commissioner, council member, or mayor in any first class municipality” (SDCL 12-25-30) as well as state and federal candidates. These statements must list any business or economic relationship that provides over $2,000 or more than 10% of the income of the candidate’s immediate family. That means, for example, that when I ran for Legislature last year, I had to list my substitute teaching, my blogging, and my wife’s pastoring as sources of income. I didn’t have to list how much we make in each of those enterprises; I just had to list those economic relationships.

Our Aberdeen City Council candidates did a poor job of fulfilling those requirements.

Some, like Prater, listed their jobs in the upper portion of the form but did not include those jobs in the financial interest disclosure list. Remily and Olson (the blurry scan—sorry!) are semi-retired, but they both have side jobs that are not listed in their enterprise lists, omissions which are allowable only if they don’t make more than $2,000 a year in those jobs. Tom Black left out his work as a home inspector. Dave Lunzman left out his position with the Division of Criminal Investigation, which he was scheduled to retire from on June 8 but which he held when he filed his statement of financial interest on April 3. Clint Rux, James Washnok, and Luke Bunke listed no business or economic relationships, even though they all clearly have jobs.

The only candidates who may have complied fully with the requirements of the financial interest disclosure law may be Kaleb Weis, who described himself as a stay-at-home dad” and “community and church volunteer” in his AAN bio and who dutifully listed his wife’s breadwinning at Avera, and Joshua Jones, who listed his job at Twin City Fan.

Violations of the financial interest disclosure statutes are mere petty offenses (though if anyone can prove intent, the state can bump that up to a Class 2 misdemeanor), on the same level as a parking ticket. And since Secretary of State Shantel Krebs doesn’t have any campaign finance cops (and may be pre-occupied dealing with her own campaign infraction this morning), I don’t expect anyone will be dropping by the above candidates’ houses to write a ticket any time soon.

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