While the South Dakota Trumpublican Party spin blog complains that Democratic U.S. House candidate Ryan Ryder‘s tweets are too mean, the Yankton Press & Dakotan endorses this blog’s call for the state of South Dakota to get tough with Russia and our secretive trust industry:
As you recall, the leaked “Pandora Papers” last fall revealed South Dakota to be one of the world’s more popular hiding places for international wealth from taxation, thanks to the state’s purposely opaque financial disclosure and trust laws. The state’s murky trust funds have ballooned to an estimated $360 billion over the last decade. Because of South Dakota’s global renown in this dubious realm, it wouldn’t be surprising if some of that Russian money is stashed in this state.
South Dakota officials need to look into this, as a matter now of global security.
As the political blog Dakota Free Press put it last week, “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.”
At this juncture, we’ve seen little action in this regard [Kelly Hertz, “Is There Russian Cash Stowed Away in South Dakota?” Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2022.03.01].
The editorial says our Legislature’s refusal to follow the lead of other states that have taken swift and concrete action to weaken Putin’s war machine demonstrates a grave failing of political will and morality:
The Associated Press reported Monday that, while many states are taking action against Russian interests, South Dakota is not among them. A story noted that Gov. Kristi Noem, along with fellow GOP governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis of Florida, are instead “mostly (taking) aim at President Joe Biden rather than issuing executive orders targeting Russia. They criticized his energy policies and said that had made it difficult to slap sanctions on Russia’s exports of oil and gas.” But other states are responding more vigorously, including North Dakota looking into pulling its investments from Russia, and Iowa calling for the removal of Russian-sourced alcohol from stores.
Meanwhile, South Dakota lawmakers are in Pierre conducting business as you read this. While it’s too late to introduce new legislation for this session, perhaps other actions can be taken now at the Capitol to shed some light into this particular fiscal secrecy at such an extraordinary moment.
Or perhaps the laws protecting these trusts are too impenetrable for any action to be taken.
Or perhaps the will to disrupt what some see as a good thing simply isn’t there.
But in this dangerous time of international crisis, cyber-threats and even nuclear saber rattling — at a moment when lives are literally at stake — if we’re unable or unwilling to oversee the anonymous global cash that’s poured into this state as a means of hiding wealth, South Dakota has a bigger problem on its hands than maintaining this morally ambiguous financial black hole that we’ve so cleverly created [Hertz, 2022.03.01].
Perhaps the oligarch-beholden Republican Party will say we in the media are being too mean to the trust industry and the good people who hide their money in our state. But they won’t blanche at the meanness they facilitate with their embrace of financial secrecy.