Can legislators shoot advertisements soliciting donations for lobbyists at the Capitol?
Representative Tom Pischke (R-25/Dell Rapids) thinks so. At 1:26 in this public Facebook video, shot in a fourth-floor committee room in the Capitol, while wearing his official legislator badge, Rep. Pischke asks viewers to send money to help bring two lobbyists from Missouri to testify for his “shared parenting” bills on February 20:
First, Rep. Pischke seems to have changed his mind on out-of-staters influencing our laws. During the 2018 Session, Rep. Pischke voted for 2018 HB 1216, which sought to ban out-of-state contributions to ballot question campaigns. (That bill failed in the Senate, but the out-of-state money ban became law in the form of G. Mark Mickelson’s unconstitutional and likely to be ignored and overturned Initiated Measure 24.) Rep. Pischke condemned out-of-state influence in this January 2018 column:
The Governor stressed that we need to find a way to stop out-of-state organizations from experimenting with South Dakota’s constitution and laws. These groups have no ties to our state and often don’t even disclose the source of their funds…. This session, we need to work together to find a way to protect our state from interference by out-of-state groups, while preserving our citizens’ access to direct democracy, so issues that do concern our grassroots can be raised, but not by people who don’t even live here [Rep. Tom Pischke, “2018 SD Legislative Sessions—Tom Pischke Week 1 Update,” Big Sioux Media, 2018.01.16].
Apparently that concern about out-of-state meddling doesn’t apply when the meddling comes on behalf of legislation Pischke wants.
Second, Representative Pischke seems to be treading close to some ethical boundary in soliciting funds from the Capitol. The pitch is explicit: “Looking for people to make donations to them, to the cause. If you could go to PayPal and make a donation….” Can a member of the Legislature really set up a camera and shoot an advertisement soliciting funds to influence legislation, or to promote any third party?
I can’t find a Joint or House Rule or a statute that explicitly says legislators can’t shill at the Capitol, but consider similar situations:
- Can Speaker Haugaard stand at the dais and film a video encouraging people to hire him as a lawyer?
- Can Senator Novstrup pop up a camera between votes in the Senate and shoot an ad for his go-kart park?
Pischke’s pitch for out-of-state lobbyists violates his own stated principles on keeping South Dakota laws local. His use of the Capitol to solicit funds for out-of-state groups smells unethical.