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IM 24 Ban on Out-of-State Campaign Contributions to Ballot Questions Faces Court Challenge

Hey, Jason Ravnsborg! Let’s go to court!

This afternoon, Rapid City attorney James Leach filed on my behalf a complaint against the State of South Dakota, as embodied by Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, Secretary of State Steve Barnett, and Governor Kristi Noem. The complaint, filed in the Northern Division of the U.S District Court of South Dakota, asks the federal court to halt the enactment of Initiated Measure 24, G. Mark Mickelson’s successful ballot measure seeking to ban non-South Dakotans from giving money to ballot question campaigns.

I’ve explained before why IM 24 is unconstitutional. Money is speech, and freedom of speech applies to everyone from every state and in every state. South Dakota cannot deny Minnesotans the First Amendment rights that Minnesotans can exercise in Minnesota and every other state of the Union.

South Dakota voters approved this unconstitutional measure last November. As much as I respect the will of the people—my current ballot measure, the People Power Initiative, is all about restoring our ability to exercise that will—I even more deeply respect the Constitution, and the Constitution says IM 24 cannot stand.

IM 24 is scheduled to take effect July 1. This lawsuit seeks to enjoin that enactment, at least temporarily while we argue the case, but, I hope, permanently, once we convince the U.S. District Court judge (and whoever up the appeals chain is drawn into the show) that IM 24 violates the Constitution.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, I’ll see you in court. (Hey, there’s something Jason hasn’t heard very often!)


  1. Porter Lansing 2019-03-01 18:03

    It’s about time.

  2. Jason 2019-03-01 18:16

    Who is SD Voice and who is paying for this?

  3. Adam 2019-03-01 18:41

    IM 24 is an attempt to make SD secede from the Untied States of America – but only in regards to freedom of speech.

    SD radicals should try to reinvent freedom of speech! Think about it! We could yet again watch snaggle-toothed, crosseyed dirt-faced idiots fall on their face a few more times – just for laughs – and let the country laugh at these mush brained fools. Put another way, give decent minded Americans a chance to learn about their enemies by putting our population on display.

  4. TAG 2019-03-01 18:42

    Nice zinger at the end. Awwww. His first big case! Photo op!

  5. Donald Pay 2019-03-01 19:09

    Let’s say you lose. Do you appeal? I would say, no. South Dakota would then have carved out a little piece of freedom from the billionaire class.

    Jim Leach is an excellent attorney. He helped TIP bring down the sewage ash scam.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 20:01

    As stated in the article, SD Voice is a grassroots organization and Cory is paying for it.

  7. Porter Lansing 2019-03-01 20:58

    Got tee shirts? 😉

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 21:02

    Donald, I envision victory.

    But in the remote hypothetical you propose, I’m not convinced that IM 24 carves our fair state any freedom from the billionaire class. The billionaire class will take advantage of the loopholes in Mickelson’s law to organize corporate structures, shack up in Mickelson’s office in Sioux Falls (as the Marsy’s Flaw people did last spring). The Koch Brothers have all the money they need to maintain a permanent corporate presence in the state, capable of mobilizing in any election cycle and laundering oodles of Koch money into a ballot question campaign under IM 24. Mickelson’s law only complicates the efforts of grassroots campaigners to enlist the help of the grassroots friends in other states who may take an interest in one ballot measure one year but not have the time, money, or interest to establish an ongoing presence in the state.

    But as I said, I envision victory. Even the loophole I describe above that benefits certain rich speakers further lays bare the absurdity and unconstitutionality of IM 24, stripping some Americans of free speech rights but not others.

  9. Donald Pay 2019-03-01 21:02

    You know, I’d be tempted to set it up to purposely lose that case. Try to set it up so that the precedent is set to jettison all of the “money is speech” nonsense by not directly confronting that issue. Cite older cases and ignore the stuff since. You need a judge who ain’t afraid to take on corruption. If you put on a bad case, you lose, and maybe that can expand to candidates. Then don’t appeal, so that the ruling applies to South Dakota. After that you can apply that precedent to candidates.

    I’m betting, though, SD officials are going to fold quickly. They’ll settle in a hot minute, because their strings are going to be pulled by their billionaires puppeteers. If they don’t fold right away, my bet is they are also going to try to purposely lose the case from their side.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 21:04

    T-shirts are likely not appropriate or argumentatively useful in the courtroom.

    Outside the courtroom, I don’t need t-shirts. I need clipboards and circulators. I’d invite you to circulate, Porter, but another likely unconstitutional law prohibits you from participating in our petition drive. :-)

  11. leslie 2019-03-01 21:12

    Big stuff. Way to go Cory! Don’t do what Trump does by talking publically too much about litigation. Good lawyers may not appreciate the extra complexity, but it is a new cyber-day.

  12. Jason 2019-03-01 21:16


    I apologize.

    I should have been more specific.

    Are out of State funds paying for the lawyer or are you?

  13. Donald Pay 2019-03-01 21:17

    We used little stickers when we sat to hear arguments at the SD Supreme Court on the nuclear waste issue and on the Lonetree dump.

    Hey, I might show up from Wisconsin to collect a couple signatures just for civil disobedience purposes. I’d love to screw with their heads again, even though I agree with restricting circulation to in-state folks.

  14. Jason 2019-03-01 21:24

    So the argument is that the First Amendment has no State line barrier.

    Couldn’t the same be said for the Second Amendment?

  15. Porter Lansing 2019-03-01 21:41

    Cory, Give me Jason’s e-mail address and I’ll answer that question for you and confirm what I already know. 😉

  16. Jason 2019-03-01 22:02


    Why are you afraid of answering it on here?

  17. Jason 2019-03-01 22:04

    Don’t worry Porter,

    I am more interested in hearing Jim Leach’s response to my question.

  18. Porter Lansing 2019-03-01 22:14

    OK, Jason. No one pays you to post here. Should I give your real name, address, wife and kid’s names, job address etc.?

  19. Adam 2019-03-01 22:16

    I want to know why Jason won’t tell us who’s paying him to comment on this blog. What does he have to hide? Why won’t he tell us the truth? What is he so afraid of?

  20. Jason 2019-03-01 22:20


    I wish someone would pay me to comment on the US Constitution.

    Did you post just to be an idiot or do you have something that contradicts what I posted in this thread?

  21. Adam 2019-03-01 22:22

    Don’t hide behind the Constituon; tell us the truth!

  22. Jason 2019-03-01 22:25


    Are you saying you don’t want to be a US Citizen?

  23. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 22:28

    Jason gets far too much attention on this blog, he’s just not worth it.
    Obviously he is paid to distract.

  24. Adam 2019-03-01 22:29

    I just think people like Jason should tell the truth about their motives. That’s all. You know, like, if you are Shad Olson’s alter ego, you’re not hiding it very well.

    And, Cory, yeah, if you could fix that link tonight I’d appreciate it. I was hoping to check that out a little later tonight.

  25. Jason 2019-03-01 22:32


    Why are you trying to distract from the US Constitution?

    Cory’s lawsuit is based on it.

    I haven’t even posted what I personally feel on this issue yet.

    My posts are based on the Constitution so far.

    You, Porter, and Adam should probably stick to the kiddie threads basing Republicans.

  26. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 22:34

    happy camper
    If you follow Cory’s link posted at 20:55 it will direct you to the proper site for SD Voice.

  27. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 22:36

    I’m not fond of “basing republicans”.

  28. Jason 2019-03-01 22:37


    My motive?

    My motive is to post facts.

  29. Jason 2019-03-01 22:41

    Well Roger,

    I would hope not.

    I do you wish you would be fond of actually using your brain to discuss the topic at hand.

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 22:50

    Jason, your question has nothing to do with the questions of law raised by this lawsuit. As usual, your queries are irrelevant distractions from the real point.

  31. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 22:50

    Okay Jason, give it your best shot. Is IM 24 Constitutional or unconstitutional, and why?

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 22:53

    Interesting, Donald, but the state isn’t really in a position to settle… unless Governor Noem would like to persuade the Legislature to hoghouse something, say, House Bill 1189, to fully repeal IM 24 and render the lawsuit moot.

  33. Jason 2019-03-01 22:54


    What happens when the Judge asks the same question I did?

    What will be your lawyers response?

    Are you going to say who is paying for the lawyer?

  34. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 22:54

    Donald, civil disobedience? Register to vote, establish a place to hang your hat, and you’re a resident, right?

    I’ll take signatures over cash any day.

  35. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 22:55

    Jason, Roger asks the relevant question: do you think IM 24 is constitutional or not?

  36. Jason 2019-03-01 22:57


    Let’s talk about truth in advertising.

    Are there laws against false advertising?

  37. Jason 2019-03-01 22:58


    Answer my questions first.

  38. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 22:58

    Adam, found it in the SDVoice post and fixed. Thanks for catching that!

  39. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 22:59

    Jason, please cite me the case law making source of payments to counsel relevant to deciding a lawsuit. Please explain how the manner in which the plaintiffs fund their efforts affects the constitutionality of IM 24.

  40. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 23:00

    It’s clear Jason is terrified of admitting that, as usual, I’m right on the issues, and must raise some childish smokescreen to avoid unpleasant truth.

  41. Jason 2019-03-01 23:01

    I’m just curious about who is paying for it. It will be disclosed so I really don’t care.

    You still have’t answered my relevant questions.

  42. Jason 2019-03-01 23:05

    The hilarious part is you don’t even know what side I am on Cory.

    I am asking Constitutional questions.

  43. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 23:06

    As expected, Jason cannot give a legitimate answer to the Constitutionality of IM 24.
    The response doesn’t have a thing to do with attorney fees, truth in advertising, or anything else.
    It’s a simple question, really.

  44. Jason 2019-03-01 23:08


    Do Second Amendment rights cross State lines?

    I bet you won’t answer.

  45. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 23:10

    But you’re not asking relevant questions, Jason.

    Tell us: is IM 24 constitutional or not?

  46. Jason 2019-03-01 23:12


    I read the lawsuit. That is why I asked the above questions that you will not answer.

  47. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 23:14

    Jason needs to know if the 2nd Amendment rights cross state lines. Anybody want to handle this one?

  48. Jason 2019-03-01 23:14


    Don’t forget the State line issue with health insurance.

  49. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 23:15

    But I’ll consider Jason’s question for a moment. Suppose a Minnesotan feels someone in South Dakota has done him wrong. The Minnesotan wants to take the South Dakotan to court in South Dakota. Is the Minnesotan allowed to file suit? Of course. Is the Minnesotan allowed to hire a South Dakota lawyer? Of course. Is the South Dakota lawyer allowed to take payment from a Minnesotan? Of course.

    Does the court have any interest in the course of financial support for the lawyer for the plaintiff? Of course not. Does the source of the plaintiff’s money have any bearing on the questions of law raised by the plaintiff? Of course nor… unless Jason is really trying to point out to us (and this Jason’s only hope for relevancy) that we cannot ban Americans from using their money to speak or to press cases in court based simply on their state of residence.

    IM 24 is unconstitutional right, Jason?

  50. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-01 23:16

    I’m thinking that Cory probably has read the lawsuit, too.

  51. Jason 2019-03-01 23:21


    I really don’t care about who is paying for the lawsuit as much as you not answering my other questions.

  52. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 23:29

    And that’s why conversation with you is pointless, Jason. You don’t want people to come here and discuss the issue. You want to throw up some smokescreen and talk about something else.

    I refuse to answer your question for the same reason counsel will object to my answering such a question in court: it is irrelevant to the question of law at hand. Gte on topic, or get out.

  53. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01 23:30

    Citizens are going to come here wanting to read about the lawsuit. They are not interested in whatever personal games some commenters may want to play. They want to know whether IM 24 is constitutional or not.

  54. Jake Kammerer 2019-03-02 05:46

    Thanks Cory, for protecting the rights of ALL South Dakotans; even nutcases like Jason who seem to have one cause-obfuscate, smokescreen, red herring.

  55. David Newquist 2019-03-02 06:54

    There is nothing more disgusting than to take a purposeful walk on a sidewalk and step into a pile of dog feces that someone let their pet deposit there. That’s what it’s like to read a purposeful thread and come across a comment by Jason. Village idiots have the right to speak, but editors have the right to reject their sound and fury. Our society provides special places for them to exercise that right.

  56. Jason 2019-03-02 07:13


    The voters of SD voted for this. How is Cory’s lawsuit protecting the voters rights?

  57. Jason 2019-03-02 07:17


    You are the idiot because you don’t even know how I feel about the law the voters of SD voted on.

    And your post is saying you don’t want free speech, and Cory’s lawsuit is based on free speech.

    Please don’t read my posts in the future because you are not intelligent enough to understand them.

  58. RICHARD SCHRIEVER 2019-03-02 07:35

    Jason asks; “Couldn’t the same be said for the Second Amendment?”

    Answer is Federal authority – including every word of the entire constitution – supersedes every and any other law in every and any other “sub” jurisdiction within sovereign US territorial jurisdiction. This includes Jason’s home – wherever that may be – so long as it is within said sovereign state’s territory.

    Jason need never ask another question regarding the territorial bounds of the constitution ever again in his life. In court-room lingo – “Asked and answered. Next?” should be anyone’s response to him whenever he tries to deploy this cute little tactic again.

    There you go Jason – now sit down.

  59. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-02 07:51

    Protecting voters rights:

    IM 24 is one component of the Republican campaign to make initiative and referendum practically impossible in South Dakota and to protect the Legislature from having its power checked by the people. IM 24 throttles the resources available to progressive grassroots campaigners while leaving candidates’ access to money from the Koch Brothers and other interest groups abroad untouched. By denying grassroots groups access to a wide array of resources, IM 24 makes it harder to put measures on the ballot and thus reduces the opportunity South Dakotans have to exercise their voting rights.

  60. Jason 2019-03-02 07:54


    Is your answer yes or no to my question?

  61. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-02 07:54

    It is not an abrogation of free speech when a judge directs a witness to ignore an irrelevant and immaterial question from an attorney and directs said attorney to stop asking immaterial and irrelevant questions.

    David Newquist abrogates no one’s free speech by pointing out that one person’s exercise of First Amendment rights consists of inferior, illogical, irrelevant, and/or uninstructive comments.

  62. Jason 2019-03-02 08:19


    Your lawyer is going to have to answer my question in court.

  63. jerry 2019-03-02 08:32

    That would be in the food court.

  64. mike from iowa 2019-03-02 08:51

    Master’s only answer to the Troll should be the ban hammer- permanent edition. Your name isn’t on the blog, you don’t get to demand anyone do anything for you, Troll.

  65. Jake Kammerer 2019-03-02 10:23

    Jason, SD voters were ‘hood-winked’ on their vote in favor of #24–much similar by their vote for Trump. Cory’s lawsuit is actually gift to SD as it will expose #24 for what it is=BS, like the Trump administration.

  66. Donald Pay 2019-03-02 10:35


    They can settle by simply agreeing with your case, which, largely, they do. G. Marky thinks he has an argument that will bury years of righty Supreme Court precedent. I’d like to see him actually make that argument, because it could be a way back from money politics.

    Funny how the right fears when the left starts using money against them. That’s, unforunately, the game that Republicans set up. Now they will lose by it.

  67. Porter Lansing 2019-03-02 12:01

    Mr. Heidelberger needs no attorney to beat the AG’s team. It’s already decided law. Let the state beat itself.

  68. Donald Pay 2019-03-02 15:04

    It’s already decided law, Porter, but it’s not correctly decided law. The authors of the First Amendment were trying to provide an equalizer between the speech of a corrupt and corrupting autocracy and that of the governed citizens. If you are an originalist, you can’t get to Citizen’s United and some of the preceding cases. Money is not speech. But that’s the system the conservatives want: money trumps the speech of the rest of us.

  69. Porter Lansing 2019-03-02 16:52

    Agreed, Don. Money shouldn’t be considered speech. Petitions are speech. Allowing all contributions for candidates, who already control the playing field and not for the people’s direct wishes through petition is insidious and must be challenged.
    Since money HAS been ruled to be speech, that speech must be free and not banned in any regard.

  70. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-02 22:02

    Donald, can the state simply surrender like that? Can the Attorney General decline to defend the law of the state? Can the state simply say, “The plaintiffs are right, judge: we support the motion for permanent injunction”?

    Whether some future court decides to overturn the doctrine of “money is speech,” right now, even under that doctrine, there are limitations. We cap the money that individuals and organizations can give to candidates, because the state’s compelling interest in preventing corruption allows that override of First Amendment speech. However, even in that case, the cap must be applied equally, to all donors, without discriminating against any subgroup of Americans. Unlimited donations to a candididate from a rich South Dakotan have as much corrupting potential as unlimited donations from a rich Minnesotan, or a rich Californian like Henry T. Nicholas.

    The courts have seen no similar compelling state interest in capping contributions to ballot questions because there’s no one to corrupt, at least not that matters to the state and law. Sure, if Henry T. Nicholas pays someone $50,000 for consulting out of the $495K he dropped on amending Marsy’s Flaw last year with Amendment Y, maybe that windfall would corrupt the person who received it, but that individual is not a candidate who takes office because of that money and makes law. If George Soros gives me $5,000,000 to circulate the People Power Petition, I might write really nice things about him on the blog and help him open a branch of his Open University here in South Dakota to bring lots of immigrants here to indoctrinate Americans into evil globalism, but his “corruption” of me has no bearing on the merits of the law that his assistance helps put on the books.

    In other words, Henry T. Nicholas can’t walk into Marsy’s Flaw’s office and say, “O.K., Marsy’s Flaw, payback time. Do me a favor.” You can’t corrupt a ballot measure. The state thus has no compelling interest in capping spending on ballot measures, let alone applying a cap of zero to contributions from a certain class of people.

    IM 24 thus violates the First Amendment and runs afoul of the criteria set by standing precedent for allowing certain abridgements of First Amendment activity in campaign finance.

  71. Jason 2019-03-02 22:41


    If you cared about the First Amendment you would have threads about the major tech companies and their censorship practices. I don’t recall you ever having a thread about that since I have been posting here.

  72. Lori 2019-03-02 22:56

    Totally agree with your lawsuit Cory. Go for it!

  73. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-02 23:06

    If Jason wants the state and world to know about major tech companies and their censorship practices, he could very easily start his own blog.

  74. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-03 07:08

    When Jason sees I have a winning argument, he tries to change the subject.

    I have never eaten tomatoes from Jason’s garden. That fact does not lead to the logical conclusion that I don’t like tomatoes.

    I am sure there are many instances of censorship about which I have never written. That fact does not establish that I do not care about the First Amendment.

  75. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-03 07:12

    The following syllogism is a Jasonism—i.e., a false argument:

    Jason has never sued the State of South Dakota for infringing on citizens’ First Amendment rights. Therefore, Jason doesn’t care about the First Amendment.

    Come, Jason, join as a plaintiff in my lawsuit. Then you can find out who pays the bills. :-D

  76. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-03 07:17

    Good point, Roger: Jason obviously cares far less about the First Amendment and other issues than I do, because he’s never started a blog and written 16,557 posts about public affairs.

    I blog, I run for office, I circulate ballot measure petitions, I sue the state… Jason just sits and bitches and lies about me. Gee, Jason: are you sure you want to keep making every comments section into a personal attack instead of focusing on the issues?

    Jason still hasn’t told us what question of law or fact in my complaint is incorrect. IM 24 is unconstitutional, and Jason can’t refute that.

  77. RICHARD SCHRIEVER 2019-03-03 08:42

    Jason – I see you have a severe reading comprehension problem.

  78. Sam2 2019-03-03 09:44

    This will be a very pivotal case for teh strength of the first amendment. If Cory loses this will Weaken the first amendment. Since it is in Federal court this could be a land mark case.

    Keep us posted Cory

  79. Jason 2019-03-03 09:50

    It’s a pivotal case for conceal carry across State lines as well.

  80. Jason 2019-03-03 09:53

    I’m not changing the subject at all Cory.

    I am still waiting for you to answer my question about the Second Amendment and how it applies to your case.

  81. mike from iowa 2019-03-03 10:37

    Jason, I have one relevant question for you to answer,. A simple yes would suffice. The question is- does yer klan hood double as a dunce cap?

  82. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-03 15:58

    Irrelevant, overruled. The Second Amendment is not raised as an issue in the complaint.

    IM 24 violates the First Amendment. No one has offered a counterargument to that statement. The state will lose this case, and all Americans will continue to enjoy their right to contribute to South Dakota ballot question campaigns.

  83. Donald Pay 2019-03-03 19:53

    My feeling about this is that state and federal candidate campaign finance systems are corrupt and corrupting even with limits, because there are so many legislated and court-sanction loopholes that those limits are meaningless. As you noted, Cory, the limits set in IM 24 are largely irrelevant to the super wealthy and corporate interests. They can use the IM 24 loopholes to spend whatever they want. The only people IM 24 hobbles are South Dakota grassroots citizens who may some out-of-state people to donate to an initiative. That funding, of course, was made necessary by the decades-long effort of the corrupt entities in South Dakota to bureaucratize the initiative process, which made professional and legal expertise needed.

    When we brought mining initiatives in 1988 and 1990, we faced hundreds of thousands of dollars of foreign money from mining interests in Canada and Australia. That money would not be limited by IM 24. We got a few donations from people who lived out-of-state, amounting to probably less than $1,000. Anyone see a problem there?

    Let’s say state citizens decide they want some reasonable regulation of uranium mining and have an initiative on that subject. Chinese and Russian state-owned enterprises, working through their US subsidiaries, could fund a multi-million dollar campaign to defeat the initiative, while conservative groups who oppose Chinese and Russian ownership of US uranium resources could not donate. Sound reasonable? I think not.

    Those of us who followed IM 24 and had expertise in this subject knew it was a scam designed to sound good, but cripple South Dakota-based grassroots campaigns.

  84. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-04 06:48

    Donald’s right: IM 24 solves no real threat to democracy. It only denies grassroots campaigners resources and denies regular folks an opportunity to occasionally participate in South Dakota issues that interest them.

    If the Chinese and Russian uranium companies can dump limitless funds into fighting a South Dakota ballot question that regulates mining, it is only fair that South Dakotans ought to be able enlist the help of Americans everywhere who care about keeping the Black Hills safe from environmental degradation. The Black Hills are a national treasure, after all.

  85. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-04 16:08

    Congratulations, Seth Tupper gives you and IM24 good print coverage on the Rapid City Journal, it should be in the print edition tomorrow.

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