During today’s Senate State Affairs hearing on Senate Bill 129, Senator Al Novstrup asked about the use of the term “entity” in the campaign finance reform bill. “I’m not clear on the definition,” said the District 3 Republican.
Senator Billie Sutton, sponsor of SB 129, explained that, in South Dakota campaign finance statute, “entity” usually means corporation. More comprehensively, “entity” means any potential campaign donor that isn’t a natural person or a political committee of some sort (candidate, PAC, party, ballot question). It includes corporations, unions, and non-profits.
“Entity” became the term of campaign finance art last year as part of 2017 Senate Bill 54, one of the consolation prizes that Novstrup’s Republican colleagues offered for the repeal of Initiated Measure 22. That bill replaced “organization” with “entity” and expanded the definition to allow businesses to contribute directly to candidates, a move running exactly opposite the intent of IM 22 to get big money out of politics.
Senator Novstrup should understand this new, more expansive definition of “entity” and its implications for campaign finance: in the 2017 Session, he voted for it every time it came before him: on February 22 in Senate State Affairs, on February 23 on the Senate floor, and on March 10 for the conference committee report.
First Novstrup demonstrates he never read the petition-restriction bill he’s sponsoring; now he shows he didn’t pay much attention to a big campaign finance law that he voted for last year. Novstrup makes it sound like District 3 needs more attentive representation in the Senate.