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Wage War on Putin: Seize Russian Trust Assets in South Dakota

Russia is invading Ukraine. Russia’s aggression threatens our cybersecurity, our energy security, and our economic security. In response, the State of South Dakota should join the federal government’s effort to check the Russian threat by ordering South Dakota’s trust companies to reveal all Russian-owned trust assets under their management. The state should immediately freeze those assets and investigate any connections between those owners and the Russian government. If the state finds any Russian assets connected to Putin’s war machine, the state should dissolve those trust contracts, seize the Russian assets, and provide legal immunity to the lawyers who help us confiscate those assets.

Smart South Dakota Democrat Cully Williams cautions that the state constitution probably won’t let us modify contracts like that. The Governor has emergency powers that she may invoke in time of war, but SDCL 34-48A-5(3) excludes personal and private funds from the resources the Governor may call upon and use to respond to any emergency.

But if statute really blocks South Dakota from taking action against enemy foreign powers, the Legislature is in Session. The 2021 Legislature added language to the emergency-powers chapter to reinforce the ban on using emergency powers to confiscate firearms; the 2022 Legislature could just as easily hoghouse a bill to subject foreign-owned assets to state seizure and confiscation in response to military aggression.

Crossover Day is done; legislators have a little breathing room to wrap their heads around much bigger issues than marijuana, ivermectin, and their petty moral posturing. Legislators and the Governor have a chance to stand against Vladimir Putin’s military aggression in Ukraine and his broader campaign to undermine Western democracy and reëstablish the Soviet Union. Drain the Putin war machine of its wealth; seize the cash the dictator and his cronies have stashed in South Dakota and put it to use protecting Ukraine and Europe from Russian aggression.

Related Reading: While the last guy they ran for President calls Putin “savvy” and “genius”, the guy before that, Senator Mitt Romney, speaks like a real statesman, patriot, and defender of global peace:

Putin’s Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation. It is without justification, without provocation and without honor.

Putin’s impunity predictably follows our tepid response to his previous horrors in Georgia and Crimea, our naive efforts at a one-sided ‘reset,’ and the shortsightedness of ‘America First.’ The ‘80s called’ and we didn’t answer

The peril of again looking away from Putin’s tyranny falls not just on the people of the nations he has violated, it falls on America as well. History shows that a tyrant’s appetite for conquest is never satiated.

America and our allies must answer the call to protect freedom by subjecting Putin and Russia to the harshest economic penalties, by expelling them from global institutions, and by committing ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our national defense [Senator Mitt Romney, press release, 2022.02.23].

The tyrant’s appetite is never satisfied. Let’s clear his fridge in South Dakota.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-02-24

    It would be the moral thing to do. That’s why SD politicians won’t even consider it.

  2. Richard Schriever 2022-02-24

    Putin’s desire to “return the glory of Russia” to the olden days ignores the fact that those glorious days were not inclusive of foreign trade profitability.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-02-24

    Actually, that Vlad the Impaler has chosen to slow hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico by forcing fertilizer prices into the ozone, drive more Republicans into bankruptcy by killing the Keystone XL Pipeline and throwing a spanner into the Dakota Excess Pipeline is likely worth restoring Russian dominance over eastern Europe.

  4. Sh 2022-02-24

    The current state of affairs should give everyone pause to think really hard and do lots of research when considering our next president. Does anyone really think someone like our current governor would have the experience and background to handle this type of situation. All future presidents should at least have a world background and at least a curiosity at what makes the world tick.

  5. jerry 2022-02-24

    Some say that NOem has a desire to be president of the USA, by kicking Putin in the balls and freezing his ASSets. NOem could accomplish this and show the chops needed to prove she could be a formidable leader.

    The thing is, there are only Democrats that have those kinds of chops in South Dakota and it appears, in Washington.

  6. sx123 2022-02-24

    Good point Cory
    Biden just announced that every Russian asset in the US will be frozen. Wonder if that will include any in SD trusts?

  7. mike from iowa 2022-02-24

    I fully expect, no demand, all gun humping magat ammosexuals to do their patriotic duty and rush to join Putin’s invasion force to help drumpf take back the WH. I guess they don’t care to get shot back at. Gutless wonders.

  8. 96Tears 2022-02-24

    Calling all Republicans! Are you 5th Columnists for Putin? Or are you loyal to the USA? Now you must decide and act. This no time to quibble. Pass enabling legislation with an emergency clause to lockdown all Russian assets, including in South Dakota trusts.

    Your national loyalty is seriously in question. Are you traitors or patriots?

  9. 96Tears 2022-02-24

    Is the little weasel Dusty Johnson wetting his pants? Remember that he personally coordinated undercover Russian agent (he knew she was Russian and had a shaky cover story) Maria Butina to spend a day with the S.D. Republican Party’s Teen Age Republicans (TAR) Camp?

    Remember Dusty’s tweet? “@Maria_Butina was incredible at @SouthDakotaTARS camp. The kids *loved* her stories of working for freedom in Russia.”

    And who can forget Donald Trump pardoning Maria’s special pal Paul Erickson, jailed for bilking $1.2 million from investors? Here’s the line from Trump;
    “Mr. Erickson’s conviction was based off the Russian collusion hoax. After finding no grounds to charge him with any crimes with respect to connections with Russia, he was charged with a minor financial crime. Although the Department of Justice sought a lesser sentence, Mr. Erickson was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment—nearly double the Department of Justice’s recommended maximum sentence. This pardon helps right the wrongs of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American History.”

    Well, Dusty, get your Florsheims flapping to a news reporter and start explaining why you and your party are out of step when it comes to getting tough on a real threat.

  10. Porter Lansing 2022-02-24

    I know how you think, Cory and I like it.
    Great idea to pierce the “veil of trust” within and put the trustees on record testifying that their trust isn’t Russian or a Russian shell.
    If they lie, it’s their license at risk.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-24

    sx123, I would assume that the presidents sanctions would include any Russian held trusts in South Dakota. However, identifying some of those Russian assets may be tricky if they’ve created shell corporations to hide their real ownership.

  12. Mark Anderson 2022-02-24

    Hey, nows the perfect time for Noem to invite the Night Wolves to Sturgis. Peace through biking. Maybe Putin would show up too. He’d like the hills and he gives the Night Wolves all the rubles they can handle. Come on Kristi show what a real Republican can do.

  13. John 2022-02-24

    And who can forget Moscow Murdo Thune (SD-GQP) spending a balmy Fourth of July in 2018 attending political lectures in Moscow?

    That was FOUR years AFTER annexed the Crimea, et al.

  14. jerry 2022-02-24

    Thune’s daddy is turning in his grave. The old man fought fascism in world war 2 while his kid does the opposite. When you get paid well for being a traitor, you get the badge of Benedict Arnold. Where else can you be broke on your arse and then go to Washington to become a multimillionaire on a fixed salary.

  15. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-24

    Freeze and Seize all Russian assets in the US…including South Dakota, including all forms of trusts of Russian nationals. Dump those millions into a lock box under the control of the State Treasurer and invest the money under the current procedures. I doubt if the legislature will do anything. I believe certain policy shapers have been corrupted by various and sundry Russian nationals, corporations, and underworld organizations. We are just a thread in a larger web. South Dakota’s policy makers are treated like bumpkins by the players in international finance.

  16. John 2022-02-24

    Moscow Murdo Thune’s grandkids may piss on his grave — like a generation of Germans pissed on the graves of their get-along-to-go-along German parents and grandparent whom supported the German government in the 1930s and 1940s. Ditto for Dugout Johnson via his handsy adulation of the Russian agent, Maria Butina.
    Moscow Murdo Thune and Dugout Johnson are like the amoral Germans (faux politicians, faux judges, faux christians) of the 1930s, that choose to turn their heads from the clear and present danger.
    Study. Get uncomfortable. Learn lessons of how the autocrats take over.
    Walking his talk:
    The only American woman ordered murdered (beheaded!) by the Nazi’s:
    It is not rocket science. Know a little history. Read the tea leaves. Act – whether to take out the autocrats or get out. Playing the middle will get one killed or earn infamy from ones progeny.

  17. Donald Pay 2022-02-24

    Never happen. The Republican Party is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Russian oligarchy. They know who finances their campaigns. Certainly Trump is fully owned, and the Republicans are all mini-Trumps now.

  18. John 2022-02-25

    We should never take foreign policy guidance from one who spent the Fourth of July in Moscow.

  19. John 2022-02-25

    Why has NO ONE in the “access uber alles” compliant media ASKED Moscow Murdo Thune and Dugout “Maria” Johnson if they support Putin or Ukraine?

    Let’s get the weasels on the record.

  20. Nancy Sutterer 2022-02-25

    You are absolutely correct!
    The corruption runs deep in SD….. ever since Janklow and his crew set up shop. There are many funds in SD that were brought in as trust funds…. no ownership declared, EB-5 issues, ad naseum….
    Noem, Thune, Johnson are despicable. I will give Rounds credit for finally telling the truth.
    I doubt if Noem will do anything…..

  21. Roger B 2022-02-25

    “Republicans are all mini-Trumps now” – Donald Pay speaking from the multiverse of madness.

    Freezing and Seizing assets is both expected and ineffectual. We should still do it as everything that makes Russia functional should be interfered with. But it all amounts the West clutches its skirts and meaningless handwringing so long as it doesn’t threaten Russia in a meaningful way. Russian energy should be forfeit from world use. Nordstream 2 should be destroyed immediately with further attacks to their ability to deliver energy so long as Russia remains in Ukrain. Pausing isn’t serious, make it plain that we are removing their hooks from Europe.

  22. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-26

    Nauseated by Tucker Carlson’s defense of Putin on Fox News…Josh Hawley, a US Senator leapt to Putin’s defense at C-Pac. Traitors, like Trump, Thune and Johnson must be dismissed by South Dakota voters…anyone who loves this country cannot vote for these conniving, self serving, traitors. Putin is at war with western civilization.

  23. leslie 2022-02-26

    Cory: “the 2022 Legislature could just as easily hoghouse a bill to subject foreign-owned assets to state seizure and confiscation in response to military aggression.”

    Bat: paraphrasing from earlier—“Cory, what specific legislation would you propose to regulate SD’s unregulated money laundering $3-400 B industry, given that fat, white, KGB oligarch Putin (perhaps the “wealthiest” [criminal, like Trump] individual in the world) has “carefully hidden his assets around the world.” CBS, NBC 2.25.22 nightly news.

  24. leslie 2022-02-26

    Btw NS: Rounds deserves likely racist credit for voting against Biden’s choice for retiring Breyer’s seat on the SCOTUS, just last year as a federal appellate Justice.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-26

    Roger, South Dakota can’t wage war directly on Russia. We can’t send President Zelensky air support from Ellsworth. We can grab Putin’s wealth. We should do everything we can to help Ukraine.

  26. Porter Lansing 2022-02-26

    Putin is a student of history and doesn’t want a lasting legacy of this infamous episode.
    – He especially doesn’t want a cemetery of dead Ukranian civilians left behind as martyrdom.
    – That’s why he sent mobile crematoriums to dispose of dead Ukranian patriots.
    – (Yes, MAGA’s. This is what REAL patriots do. Not the show and tell phony American patriot wannabe’s parade around as, trying to convince themselves they’re not just mental midgets.)

  27. John 2022-02-26

    “Putin did not expect such robust pushback from Ukraine.
    He thought it was to be as easy as when he annexed the GOP.” – Cheri Jacobus via twitter

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