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Nesiba Says Federal Regulation Might Check South Dakota’s Inaction Against Corruption in Trusts

South Dakota gets ink in the latest story from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on efforts to reform the trust industry to maybe make it harder for Putin to hide his corruption. In good news, we get press without lifting a finger. In bad news, we get press because we don’t lift a finger:

In other states, including South Dakota — one of the most popular tax havens in the U.S. — reforms aren’t yet on the table.

In South Dakota, with more than $360 billion held in trusts, a small group of protestors last month rallied in Sioux Falls just before the end of the legislative session to urge lawmakers to identify trust beneficiaries and freeze assets connected to Russia.

South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem,(R), has previously said “our trust industry does have integrity and it has been proven to be an outstanding lawful system in the country.”

The legislature adjourned without taking any action.

“I had some hopes that maybe they could be shamed into doing something right after the war started, and we were flooded with images of Ukrainians being attacked,” said Andy Sivertson, a retired social worker who organized the rally. “But I have my doubts about the South Dakota legislature being able to do anything about this in the future” [Will Fitzgibbon and Debbie Cenpizer, “Lawmakers in US Push to Uncover Riches Shielded by State Secrecy Laws,” International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 2022.04.21].

One of South Dakota’s few Legislative voices of reason, Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls), observes that, just like building roads and water infrastructure in South Dakota, reforming the trust industry depends on federal help to compensate for South Dakota’s inattention:

“We have this lowest common denominator competition that goes on between Delaware, South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, in terms of who has the most favorable trust laws,” said Nesiba, an economics professor at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. “Rather than participate further in that race to the bottom, it would really help to have some federal guardrails, particularly on disclosure” [Fitzgibbon and Cenpizer, 2022.04.21].

Nesiba’s District 15 neighbor Representative Jamie Smith may want to ask Governor Kristi Noem in their gubernatorial debates this fall, if she can’t bring herself to do her part to fight the Russian threat to Western values, if she would support federal action to reduce the ability of Putin and other foreign despots to hide their assets in South Dakota and other overseas tax havens.


  1. mike from iowa 2022-04-21 11:19

    Maybe identify trusts held by women on the notion women can’t make decisions for themselves. Women losing their reproductive rights can sue the lege for discrimination based on child producing years.

  2. larry kurtz 2022-04-21 11:40

    The US Attorney for the District of South Dakota resigned: coinkydink or no?

  3. ABC 2022-04-21 15:30

    Put a state tax of 0.5% on every dollar stashed in trusts, while still insuring privacy, and for 400 000 adult South Dakotans, that would be an extra $4500 a year! 1.6 billion $ for the tax. We d be getting twice what the Alaska oil dividend pays out in Alaska. Passed by Republicans in 1976!

    Aim for the seemingly impossible, settle awesome!

  4. Mark Anderson 2022-04-21 16:49

    The russkies did send one of there daughters to South Dakota to spy and cheer guns. Who knows how much they have in trusts in the state. Divestment would be nice but they must pass a law in congress freezing cold Siberian assets.
    At Wimbledon they’ve thrown out Medvedev and Rublev and the Belarusians. It’s created quite a mess with the players who float over the world and perform for the wealthy. Sad state of affairs that the players are upset about a few players and not so much for millions who are murdered, raped and destroyed. That’s how they view the world, from above. I really liked Medvedev too poor boy. Guess I’ll go with another Spaniard when Nadal calls it quits. The 18 year old Alcaraz. Maybe Medvedev will get his family out and become a citizen of someplace else. His sense of humor and game are both winners. Too bad all the way. Theoretically, they have a point but not a big one.

  5. Francis Schaffer 2022-04-21 20:20

    Someone tell Kristi she misspelled awful or the L should be silent.

  6. grudznick 2022-04-21 20:24

    You fellows are just jealous of other people’s money. If they didn’t stash it here, they’d stash it elsewhere, and it would still be theirs, not yours. Jealousy is the green eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on, indeed.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-21 21:09

    Grudz…I’m afraid you are not universally right in your assumption of jealousy. I could care less if it is a family trust of a hardworking businessman or a prosperous farmer who beat the odds and made a lot of money…good for them. But…if its money looted by Vladimer Putin or a Colombian Drug Lord or a Mafia kingpin, then I want it exposed and I want them in court to face judgement for financial crimes. I’m not jealous of Vladimer Putin Pablo Escobar. or “Big Louie” from Detroit. I seek the vengeance of the just.

  8. RST Tribal Member 2022-04-22 05:55

    The inept inbred Republicans in the Dumb Doom in Pierre cannot bring themselves towards a moral compass that is centered on good human behaviors. They would if 45 tells them to, but his moral compass has been stuck on screw them and the system for too many years.

    Ms Butterfly Gov doesn’t have the trust issue on her consultant prepared talking points. The word trust isn’t fully understood by her, the writers behind the words don’t want her to fall off the campaign trail to nowhere ending their gravy train.

    Usury rates, hidden ill gotten trust funds, white domestic terrorists, virus, indifference to Native population, regressive taxes on low and middle income families and good people acting stupid for 3 months out of the year is the place of cold stone faces on license plates and bad drivers in too many places. Well some good people acting strange for 3 months, with many inept inbred Republicans being goofy all year long.

    Don’t expect much from the clown show in Washington, as RINO Thune is on radio silence until December, the I cannot believe I am here Rounds and put any pipe in the ground Johnson cannot move without Mitch, Putin or 45 giving the signal.

  9. V 2022-04-22 06:16

    It’s always been the rich man’s advantage to hide thy wealth so it can’t be taxed. Who knows or cares how it is acquired? Obviously this legal yet unethical business is the only thing almost all Republicans can agree is okay. Their motto is “My money is mine and yours is ours.”

  10. O 2022-04-22 11:43

    ABC, your comment has me again asking what is in it for SD to oblige this, at best, moral grey area? Grudznick believes it is some god-given right to be rich, so it is wrong to tax, but if we are providing a service, doesn’t capitalism (and the ghost of Ayn Rand) DEMAND we be fairly compensated for that service?

    I do not accept that none of this secret source money is not connected to illicit activities. It is incongruent to say that the sources are fine — but we do not/cannot know what those sources are.

  11. leslie 2022-04-22 14:45

    Grdz. Just like every hard core Republican Christian narrow minded red neck I’ve ever known. “If I don’t do it somebody else will” as paper-thin rationale with no concern for the forest for the trees, the consequences borne by others, and the full costs borne by society.

    Jealousy? Try concern for international dark, laundered money for political power, corruption and crime. Is there anything in this world more important in stemming than these consequences of ECONOMIC INEQUALITY? Oh yeah, global warming, the other of the two most important existential crisisis and election issues ever?

    $360 billion parked in Sx Falls by a peon brained Republican legislature and Governor.

    Every post. Glaringly obvious. Grdz greed. Racism. Selfishness. Misogynist. Criminal heart. Yet Cory amplifies is intention of disinformation.

  12. larry kurtz 2022-04-23 17:50

    Yet Professor Nesiba is unable to mount a statewide race, not even for PUC or State Auditor? He reads more like a mouth that roars than anything else. Is this truly the best the SDDP can do?

  13. andy 2022-04-23 18:55

    In response to Larry Kurtz; huh??

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