Speaker G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) has one initiative on the 2018 ballot. Yesterday Secretary of State Shantel Krebs certified his petition to put to a vote a ban on contributions to ballot question committees from out-of-state donors. That measure will appear on the 2018 general election ballot as Initiated Measure 24.
The Secretary counted 18,130 signatures on Mickelson’s petition. The new random sampling rules enacted last year required her to sample 706 signatures. That sample apparently produced 573 valid signatures, an 81.16% success rate. The Secretary thus calculates that Mickelson’s petition has 14,714 valid signatures, 843 more than the 13,781 necessary to qualify for the ballot.
Mickelson’s money ban was one of the four petitions I considered unlikely to make the ballot based on signature count and the average and median 2015 petition error rates. However, after a sloppy start, Team Mickelson apparently got its poop in a group and, with some help from other petitioners, posted an error rate of 18.84%, beating the 2015 median error rate of 25.30% and the Represent SD/Amendment W error rate of 28.63%.
Anyone wanting to kick IM 24 off the ballot has until 5 p.m. CST Monday, February 5, to challenge Mickelson’s petition. Find just 33 more bum signatures in that random sample, and Mickelson’s petition is toast.
But why go to all that trouble? Even if voters approve IM 24, the Koch Brothers will take it to court, and Mickelson’s folly will be thrown out as unconstitutional. Like a similar measure turned down in the 2017 Legislature, IM 24 violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by saying Minnesotans can’t support the free speech efforts of ballot question committees while South Dakotans can. The constitutional case against IM 24 is much stronger than the constitutional case against IM 22, which measure Mickelson yesterday called “garbage.” Stand back, G. Mark—the garbage truck will come for your initiative even faster.
Besides, IM 24 wouldn’t even achieve its stated purpose of getting out-of-state money out of ballot question campaigns.
- Mickelson’s language bans non-residents from contributing to ballot question committees. Sufficiently wealthy individuals can set up residency at one of our RV-mailbox shops in days.
- Mickelson’s language bans political committees “organized outside South Dakota” from contributing to ballot question committees. Sufficiently wealthy interests can hire South Dakota mercenaries like Jason Glodt to form a South Dakota PAC, launder their money, and spend without limit.
- Mickelson’s language bans contributions to BQCs from entities “not filed as an entity with the secretary of state for the four years preceding such contribution.” Wealthy interests either find an existing entity willing to launder their money, or they look ahead, incorporate some shell company now, and look forward to pouring their money in to ballot measures in 2022.
- In addition to any of these workarounds, Mickelson’s language says nothing about independent communications. If Mickelson follows through on his desire to repeal the crime victims bill of rights (which repeal is fine with me!), its out-of-state sponsor, California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas, can still try to save his weepy vanity bill by spending millions of dollars on independent communications not paid for by any ballot question committee.
Two measures have been certified for the 2018 ballot; six more petitions await Secretary Krebs’s validation.