Last night Rep. Liz May (R-27/Kyle) and Sen. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) filed paperwork (electron-work?) to create the Conservative Republican Caucus PAC. The PAC’s mail goes to treasurer Rep. Taffy Howard’s (R-33/Rapid City) home address. Their declared purpose: to “strengthen and defend the number of minority conservative Republican legislators in the SD Legislature.”
(Hmmm… if the PAC is defending a minority, I assume it will disband if it becomes a majority?)
The PAC is the fundraising wing of the newly formed Conservative Republican Caucus, housed in the same 4309 South Louise office building as Nelson’s pal, attorney, former and aspiring legislator R. Shawn Tornow. Membership is by invitation only to individuals who score better than 60% on the Citizens for Liberty Conservative Scorecard (a new edition of which was released last week). By that criterion, eight Republican Senators and nineteen Republican Representatives are eligible for CRC membership and support. Four of those incumbets (five, if Lance Russell gets the nomination for attorney general) are not seeking to return to the Legislature.
The press release issued by the CRC at the crack of dawn this morning says they’ve formed in part to counter “the ever increasing liberal direction Republican legislators are being pushed to meet the demands of special interest groups interested in government spending.” The CRC contends that truly conservative legislators “are historically the least contributed to by lobbyists due to their voting against such spending.”
CRC says the “final straw” leading to their organization was Governor Dennis Daugaard’s “renewed heavy financial support of some of the worst liberal Republicans in the primary elections, over conservatives….” The incumbent Republicans to whom Governor Daugaard contributed $1,000 each pre-primary have CfL conservative scores that average to 36.6; the highest conservative score among Daagaard’s favorites belongs to Rep. Howard’s District 33 seatmate and primary contender Rep. David Johnson, who scored 49.5, the same as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Senator Bille Sutton (D-21/Burke).
CRC chairs May and Nelson offer these justifications for their PACkification:
May: We need true Republicans that represent what the party stands for, limited government, deregulation, cutting taxes, and promoting liberty and freedom. It’s crucial to hold the Party to core conservative principals [sic].
Nelson: The Conservative Republican Caucus will be an avenue for South Dakotans to support actual conservative Republican legislators who match their campaign promises up with demonstrated voting records supporting South Dakota Republican traditional conservative principles. These liberal “Republicans” have used the reputations of we conservatives to fool the voters, while stuffing their pockets with special interest monies and voting for more, and more tax & spending increases, long enough [Conservative Republican Caucus PAC, press release, 2018.05.29].
I share May and Nelson’s dismay at the number of dishonest Republicans in the Legislature who campaign as fiscal conservatives but then vote for just as many tax increases as they hair-on-fire warned that Democrats would deliver. Of course, I’ll be spending the election season urging voters to choose honest Democrats over dishonest Republicans. Perhaps when the primary is done (one week to go!), the CRC can recognize that the enemies of their enemies are their friends and send some quiet support to Democrats in districts currently held by the dishonest, opportunist, lobbyist-captured “Republicans.”