I initially thought Larry Rhoden’s failure to timely file the statement of organization for his campaign for lieutenant governor only subjected him to the possibility of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. Then I read SDCL 12-27-29.3, which suggests his violation of campaign finance law invalidates his place on the ballot next to Kristi Noem:
No candidate who is listed on a statement of organization for a candidate campaign committee pursuant to §§ 12-27-3 and 12-27-6 may be certified as a candidate for office unless the treasurer of the candidate campaign committee for which the candidate is listed has:
- Filed all statements, documents, and information required under this title; or
- Paid each civil penalty assessed pursuant to § 12-27-29.1, or any other penalty imposed pursuant to this chapter against the candidate or the treasurer [SDCL 12-27-29.3].
That restriction was enacted in 2013, courtesy of 2013 House Bill 1209, which then Senator Rhoden voted for alongside a unanimous Senate.
Before Team Sutton sues to remove Rhoden from the ballot (which, yes, yes, Pat, is already being printed), let’s consider the possible loophole. SDCL 12-27-29.3 says failure to file “all statements, documents, and information required” under Title 12 prevents certification of a candidate. But it refers only to candidates “listed on a statement of organization.” When Secretary of State Shantel Krebs certified Rhoden as a candidate for lieutenant governor on June 25, Rhoden’s name did not appear on any statement of organization for the office of lieutenant governor. Therefore, Team Rhoden could argue that SDCL 12-27-29.3 could not prevent his certification as a candidate.
That sounds silly, but the state has allowed illegal candidates onto the ballot for so many silly, contradictory reasons this summer that I’m not sure anything in election law means anything any more.
But one could also play the silly game and counter that Rhoden’s name did appear on a statement of organization when Secretary Krebs certified his candidacy for lieutenant governor: the statement of organization for “Larry Rhoden for South Dakota,” his legislative campaign committee, last updated October 19, 2016, and still not terminated. On June 25, Rhoden’s name was “listed on a statement of organization for a candidate campaign committee.” As of June 25, Rhoden’s treasurer, Ted Hustead, had not “filed all statements, documents, and information required under this title.” Thus, on June 25, Rhoden could not be certified as a candidate for office.
Go for it, Team Sutton! Sue to remove this illegal candidate from the ballot!
Whether or not Rhoden’s late filing invalidates his candidacy, he could face a $200 fine from the Secretary of State. While everyone in officialdom waits for a civilian to file a civil action against Rhoden to lift a finger against Rhoden’s crime, SDCL 12-27-29.1 authorizes the Secretary of State to levy a civil penalty of $200 against any person who fails to timely file any state campaign finance statement.