The Senate continues to tweak censured Senator Julie Frye-Mueller (R-30/Rapid City). This week, the Senate approved Senate Bill 197, which would ban legislators’ spouses from working as private lobbyists. Senator Frye-Mueller’s husband Mike Mueller lobbies for the right-wing Citizens for Liberty (and knowingly smiles and nods when his wife gives unsolicited advice about stimulating milk production).
Prime sponsor Senator Michael Rohl (R-1/Aberdeen) says lobbying by legislators’ spouses creates a danger of (more) corruption in Pierre:
Rohl argued that lobbyists who have such intimate relationships with legislators have greater access to legislators, a “path to bribe legislators” and an “undisputable advantage” compared to other lobbyists or the general public.
“This would allow us to better serve the people of our state and not just the highest bidder,” Rohl said [Makenzie Huber, “Bill Barring Legislative Spouses from Becoming Lobbyists Passes Senate Committee,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.02.13].
Rohl also suggested SB 197 could apply to unpaid lobbyists like Mueller:
Rohl said the bill would apply to any lobbyist who receives benefits from a lobbying firm. Lobbyists do not need to be paid to receive benefits, he said [Huber, 2023.02.13].
SB 197 passed Senate State Affairs Monday 8–1. It passed the full Senate yesterday 22–13, with nays from Frye-Mueller, a few other Republicans, and, curiously, Democratic Senator Red Dawn Foster (D-27/Pine Ridge), who, as a member of the only party taking a real stand against corruption in Pierre, one would happily encourage Republicans to pass any measure that removes conflicts of interest from an often incestuous state government.