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Smith Treasurer Fails to Provide Addresses for 1500+ Big Donors, Has Seven Days to Rectify Gross Error

Kristi Noem’s campaign claims Jamie Smith has violated campaign finance law and “illegally deposited over half-a-million dollars in contributions.” Team Noem gets it half right.

Yesterday was the deadline for South Dakota candidates and political committees to file their pre-general campaign finance reports. The Smith for Governor campaign filed its report with lazy supporting documentation showing the names of folks who’ve given Smith more than $100 this year but not their addresses.

Smith for Governor, pre-general report: supporting documentation, 2022.10.24, clip from p. 1
Smith for Governor, pre-general report: supporting documentation, 2022.10.24, clip from p. 1.

The “supporting” document also sloppily mingles entity and political committee contributions with individual donations and fails to cite full names for a few individuals:

Smith for Governor, pre-general supporting doc, 2022.10.24, clips from pp. 32–33.
Smith for Governor, pre-general supporting doc, 2022.10.24, clips from pp. 32–33.

Sloppiness isn’t illegal, but good grief—failing to report complete donor information is. Every candidate knows that campaign finance law (SDCL 12-27-24) requires that we report the name, mailing address, city, and state of every person who contributes more than $100. Team Smith gave those addresses for their big donors in their pre-primary report and their spring supplemental reports. How did treasurer Spencer Hawley not print the address column from the spreadsheet this time? Is he trying to wreck another Democratic candidacy?

Team Noem comes predictably and somewhat properly screaming that Smith has broken the law and should be investigated immediately:

“Jamie Smith committed 33 pages of campaign finance violations today,” said Ian Fury, Communications Director at Kristi for Governor. “There is not a single itemized contribution in his filing that complies with the most basic requirements of the law. How can we trust him to follow the laws of our state and faithfully execute the duties of Governor? We are calling for an immediate investigation into these violations.”

Smith violated SDCL 12-27-24 (12) by failing to include the “mailing address, city, and state of each person making a contribution of more than one hundred dollars.” Smith’s campaign did not provide the address of a single such contributor. In doing so, Smith made at least 1,500 itemized violations.

If the information required by statute is not provided, the donations cannot be deposited. SDCL 12-27-24(12) says “If any information required by the section is unknown to the political committee, the political committee may not deposit the contribution.”

“It seems that Jamie Smith’s campaign illegally deposited more than half-a-million dollars in contributions,” continued Fury [Kristi for Governor, press release, posted without commentary to Dakota War College, 2022.10.24].

Yes, Smith broke the law by not reporting addresses for his $100.01+ donors. He deserves every bit of scorn his opponents can lay on him for this unforced error two weeks before the election.

But no, Smith did not break the law by depositing and spending that money. Read the statute spokesboy Fury cites: it does not say that candidates may not deposit contributions if they do not provide the address information to the state. Smith and Noem both deposited and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars this summer and fall before filing their donors’ information. If we had to file donor information before depositing and spending it, campaigns would be punching in donor data every night before going to the bank (which, actually, now that I think about it, might not be such a bad idea—rolling, real-time campaign finance updates!).

SDCL 12-27-24 only says candidates can’t put big money in the bank unless they know the names and addresses of the givers. We have no evidence that Smith doesn’t know the addresses of those 1,500-plus donors. Fury goes too far in claiming Smith has illegally deposited campaign funds.

And actually, what lawbreaking has occurred is not subject to any penalty or investigation, not yet. SDCL 12-27-27 gives Smith’s campaign treasurer seven days from the time of “discovering any omission, inaccuracy, or other change necessary to make the statement or report accurate” to file an amended report. A person who “willfully fails to report a material change or correction… is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor,” but that person (Spence!) is not subject to that charge or to administrative penalty from the Secretary of State ($200 per violation, 1500+ violations—that could wipe out Smith’s remaining $255K war chest!) until “the first day following the seventh day after the candidate, treasurer, or other person is notified of the omission, inaccuracy, or other change necessary to make the statement or report accurate.” (Spence, consider yourself notified.)

Smith’s treasurer boneheadedly broke the law, leaving off basic information about donors that every conscious candidate knows has to be on every campaign finance report. But SDCL 12-27-27’s seven-day grace period means no one is going to jail or paying a fine…until next week, if Team Smith fails to submit an amended report with donor addresses (not to mention full names! Dean? Dietrich? Drovdal? DVM Dan? Come on, Spence: clean up your spreadsheet!).


  1. Ryan 2022-10-25 09:23

    when asked about what his son does for a living, i bet ian fury’s father looks at his feet and mumbles something… that poor guy

  2. sx123 2022-10-25 10:11

    1500/7 = 214 donors per day = 9 per hour to get the info for.
    If they have the info in a database, should be about a one second query.

  3. Scott Ehrisman 2022-10-25 13:15

    Every election, whether it is local, state, county, etc, I see multiple campaign violations from both parties and non-partisan. So what is the solution? Have someone actually enforce the rules. We do not have that right now. It is turn in your neighbor boloney and and then it gets log jammed in court. It seems silly to me that we have campaign finance rules and regs, but we have NO ONE who enforces them. Either we have an election enforcer in SD or we just drop all the rules, because nobody is following them currently.

  4. grudznick 2022-10-25 16:54

    Not surprisingly, my good friend Mr. Stan is throwing away $4000 on this folly.

  5. P. Aitch 2022-10-25 18:02

    Big Whoop … This took 2.5 minutes.
    Kent Alberty lives in Sioux Falls on South Louise Avenue
    Stan Adelstein lives in Rapid City on Founders Park Drive
    Allison Alvine lives in Sioux Falls on Old Orchard Trail
    Frank Alvine lives in Sioux Falls on Old Orchard Trail
    Kamesh Aiyer lives in Cambridge MA on Magazine Street
    Shall I continue?

  6. larry kurtz 2022-10-25 18:24

    Mr. Fury is pushing malfeasance in an alleged missing $5,000 from Representative Smith’s campaign but we can easily presume it didn’t go to buy the Hughes County State’s Attorney investigating Mrs. Noem’s criminal activity.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-10-25 20:50

    I am very impressed by the number of politically experienced, well known, responsible Republicans whose name is on this list. Character wins out. These people are doing what they can to protect democracy and effective government. They all should be commended. In the world of the present Republican Party, they have committed some kind of treasonous act by supporting Mrs. Noem’s opponent. In my mind they are standing up against the narrow minded tyranny of our present Governor. I appreciate every one of them as people of decency and intelligence.

  8. scott 2022-10-25 21:52

    Bad thing for the Smith campaign. Hopefully the campaign can get this corrected quickly. Being a low budget campaign, I have to wonder if this mistake was caused by not having qualified people taking care of these records and the necessary reports?

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-10-26 06:06

    Scott Ehrisman is correct; campaign finance law in South Dakota is mostly farce. We have no campaign finance cops. State officials rarely look into violations. And for those folks who do try to comply with campaign finance law, the state is no help. One reader was trying to figure out the independent expenditure rules, and the SOS office refused to provide any help other than to say “Read the law and consult your lawyer.” That’s terrible; most of the people participating in campaigns in South Dakota are amateurs, not rich organizations with legal teams.

    Help and enforcement can go hand in hand. The Office of the Secretary of State should take its authority seriously and rigorously enforce campaign finance laws. It should also provide an expanded help desk to field questions from all citizens and help everyone ensure they are following campaign finance law to the letter.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-10-26 06:07

    PAitch, the law does not say, “Candidates, provide names; it’s the public’s obligation to Google all of your donors and guess where they are from.” The law says, “Candidates, gives names and addresses for every big donor.”

    There’s no excusing violations of the law.

  11. P. Aitch 2022-10-26 07:31

    Cory – Allow me to quote Cory: “Campaign finance law in South Dakota is mostly farce. We have no campaign finance cops. State officials rarely look into violations. And for those folks who do try to comply with campaign finance law, the state is no help.”
    I reiterate: Big Whoop – every candidate I can remember has been in some violation of your vague laws. In a state where even well written laws are voted in by the voters somewhere, somehow those decent and well-intentioned laws are thrown out on a perceived technicality. Big Whoop

  12. Scott Ehrisman 2022-10-26 11:33

    A great example of the lack of enforcement is yard signs. Just drive around Sioux Falls. A large percentage of them are in yards before the posting period and another large group of them are in the boulevard. A few years ago when Mickelson was running for school board, she even had signs posted in the Harrisburg and Tea school districts. Not even sure if that is a violation. I think both parties like to use the campaign rules as a political football to accuse their opponents of wrongdoing, and since there is NO centralized enforcement from the state, voters can believe what they want to. I tell voters that all this excel sheet data and misplaced signs is NOT the real problem with our elections, it is voter turnout and too much PAC and dark money in the races. I could care less if a candidate walked naked in a parade with a sign sticking from their ass, as long as they are honest and not funded by big money.

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