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Broadcasters’ Writer Agrees: Judge Kornmann Surprises Observers with Concerns About IM 24

South Dakota Broadcasters Association chief Steve Willard reminds me that there was a third journalist in the courtroom Friday to document the trial of the SDBA/SDNA and SD Voice lawsuits against IM 24. Pierre video producer Patrick Callahan side-gigs for the Broadcasters and wrote up Friday’s proceedings for the press. KELO-TV mostly ignores the important points stated during the trial and only reports Judge Charles Kornmann’s signal that he’ll rule this week or next. KELO Radio gives us far more detail from Callahan, who agrees with me that Judge Kornmann’s surprising monologue may have been the most newsworthy statement made in the courtroom:

Speaking from the bench, Kornmann said that because the new law must be enacted on July 1 he was preparing to rule on a permanent injunction – meaning his ruling would be final short of an appeal to the US Eighth Circuit.

He then rapidly denied a plaintiff’s request to consolidate cases, denied a State request to stay for more time, and then announced, “this is going to be a trail on merits today.”

What followed surprised many in the courtroom; Judge Kornmann offered his thoughts on the case to date and expressed his concerns with the implementation of the law saying he was, “concerned” among other matters that, “this thing prohibits contributions in the form of volunteers from out of state.”

Judge Kornman went on to say that, “in kind are more valuable, or may be, than cash” and that, “in kind amounts to a financial contribution.”

He voiced concern regarding IM24 pointing out the law, “does not make an effort” to limit out of state contributions to elected officials and only impacts ballot question committees [Patrick Callahan, “Federal Judge to Decide IM24 Soon” KELO Radio, 2019.05.06].

Callahan’s report gives no details on the plaintiffs’ arguments or the state’s defense; perhaps Callahan is choosing a wiser journalistic route and chunking his reportage into chewable bites that will play through the entire week rather than taking my route of dishing the whole enchilada in one big Saturday post.


  1. Donald Pay 2019-05-06 08:39

    This is old Kornmann schtick, Cory. Kornmann is stretching his panties regarding “volunteers from out-of-state.” A little historical context is that the “volunteers” Kornmann is concerned about are CEOs of foreign mining concerns.

    Kornmann, in his lobbying days, was always making the odd and humorous interpretation of bills, stretching them out to their logical or illogical conclusions. Mostly, his musings ended up at the session-end lobbyists’ bash, where Kornmann’s schtick was roundly applauded. There, of course, are a lot of bills that aren’t tightly enough written, and subject to unexpected consequences.

    Kornmann’s schtick was on stage when he thought our initiatives on surface mining might apply to the Homestake Mine, an underground mine. Except, It wasn’t schtick then. He was getting paid a lot of money to figure out reasons why our initiative should not be enacted. And, he and his foreign mining partners were contracting with polling firms and p.r. outfits to figure out what arguments were most likely to sway people. I’m sure his concern is sparked by how much time CEOs of foreign mining concerns put in to attend meetings to figure out how to defeat our initiatives.

    Our initiative had been written by LRC, and, since state law did not deal with underground workings, Homestake’s underground mine was exempt, by the way. It was all a means to scare people into voting no.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-05-07 12:42

    As I mentioned Saturday, I’m inclined to read statute to exempt volunteers from the IM 24 ban on out-of-state assistance. But as my lawyer brought out during my testimony on Friday, how is the typical ballot question committee runner to discern that? IM 24 puts me in great legal jeopardy, as IM 24 provides no clear definition on which I can rely to trust even the faintest whiff of out-of-state involvement. Interestingly, I could end up in trouble even for accepting donations from a South Dakota business, run by South Dakota natives, who only opened up their business a year or two ago.

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