Speaker G. Mark Mickelson just helped me understand why he was so fired up about putting Marsy’s Fix on the primary ballot. Sure, he wants to save counties from some fraction of the new expenses that the ill-crafted Marsy’s Law began imposing on them upon enactment in November 2016. But Mickelson also has an eye on campaign finance:
There’s going to be a number of other ballot measures on the fall ballot, and so probably be less ballot clutter. I know the folks that going to help pay—are helping pay to get the message out, it’ll be a little less expensive to educate the public with a media campaign on a primary ballot [Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, transcribed from audio, Zach Nelson, “Mickelson Encouraging Yes Vote on Amendment V,” KCCR Radio, 2018.05.14].
There’s one “folk” paying to get the Marsy’s Fix message out, Henry T. Nicholas, and he’s worth $3.4 billion. He spent $2.1 million of his own money pushing his vanity bill in South Dakota. The more crowded political market (ten ballot measures total; only seven this year) didn’t deter Nicholas from spending big on ads in 2016; he could pour another couple million to buy up South Dakota’s airwaves this fall without skipping on spoonful of caviar.
Mickelson isn’t saving Nicholas money; he’s saving himself money. Never mind the pocket change G-Mick makes renting his office to Nicholas’s ballot question committee. Mickelson has two ballot measures to push this fall, and Mickelson, whose pants are pretty fancy by South Dakota standards, didn’t want to get into a bidding war with a much deeper-pocketed California billionaire for ad time on KELO and KSOO.
Forget ballot clutter; Mickelson feared airwave clutter. So to avoid missing out on ad time or having to bid higher to get it, Mickelson got the Legislature to spend $200,000 to keep Marsy’s Fix out of his desired airtime.
It’s not a problem when the money isn’t his or his owner’s. That $200,000 is certainly a good use of SD citizens’ money. I mean surely, there are no other needs. Right?