Speaking of the new redistricting initiative, the SDGOP spin machine is wasting no time in flinging feces at the movement, which would undermine (though far from overthrow) our one-party regime’s grip on political power. SDGOP spinster Pat Powers immediately throws up a baseless accusation that the League of Women Voters and its seventeen South Dakota-based coalition partners in this drive are just a front for some “dark money group” and an outright false charge that they are breaking South Dakota campaign finance law:
One thing I did notice when trying to dig into this organization – aside from the name-alike cartoon – while the group has a website, a facebook page that’s been in place for 10-12 months, and appears to maybe paying an attorney (at least there’s that appearance according to the LRC letter), I cannot find a statement of organization, or any campaign finance filings with the Secretary of State under their name of “Drawn Together SD.” In addition, there does not appear to be the proper disclaimer under law for a ballot committee.
So this group that’s been around since last January, and does not appear to be providing organizational disclosure through the state, campaign finance disclosure through the state, or using state required disclaimers for a political or ballot committee organization.
Yet they want to re-write the state constitution where it comes to how we draw legislative districts.
That being said, and without actually saying “Paid for by X group,” I do note that the ballot group shares an address with the South Dakota League of Women Voters, and kind-of/sort-of alludes to the fact that they’re behind the whole thing.
Which if that’s the case, and they’re operating it under their 501(c)(4) political umbrella, it leaves me to ask why is the League of Women Voters acting as a dark money group to push a ballot measure in South Dakota. And who is footing the bill? [Pat Powers, “Possible Dark Money Group Promoting 2023 Legislative Redistricting… Right After 2021 Legislative Redistricting,” Dakota War College, 2020.12.16]
The League of Women Voters and its initiative partners are breaking no law. Supporters of a ballot question do not have to organize a ballot question committee and start slapping disclosures on any of their publications until a ballot question actually exists. No ballot question and thus no ballot question committee exists until a group submits its final petition to the Secretary of State. The League of Women Voters doesn’t have to start filing campaign finance papers to promote discussion of redistricting any more than Pat Powers and his GOP minders have to file campaign finance papers right now to slag the idea. (Remember, Pat: campaign finance law requires filings from opponents as well as proponents.)
Now if the supporters of this particular measure are collecting and spending money for this specific measure in excess of $500, they have fifteen days to file a statement of organization. But DrawnTogetherSD.com, the website promoting fairer redistricting in South Dakota and listing the coalition partners, isn’t advocating for this specific measure to be placed on the 2022 ballot yet; it urges South Dakotans to tell their legislators to support independent redistricting and points out the Legislature’s failure to take action on such a measure in 2020. And even if Drawn Together does turn to explicit advocacy for this draft amendment and starts taking and spending money to support that advocacy, state campaign finance law refers to “printed material or communication” but not electronic publications, meaning websites may technically still not need those “Paid for by…” disclaimers.
As seems to be wont with Republicans, Pat Powers is falsely accusing his perceived opponents of breaking the law. The League of Women Voters just wants to make democracy work better. Lying spinsters like Powers and his SDGOP appear to want the opposite.