South Dakota lawmakers have taken the first steps to overturn a voter-approved initiative called the South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act (Measure 22, IM-22). Legislators plan to use a tactic that would allow them to overturn the measure immediately, and deny voters any additional say.
Here is a brief overview of what IM-22 does:
- It lowers contribution amounts for PACs, political parties, and candidates running in state and county offices;
- Limits contributions from campaign committees, PACs, and parties;
- Creates a publicly financed program for campaigns that agree to accept and participate in limits to contributions and expenditures;
- Creates an ethics commission to enforce the restrictions placed by the measure and administer the publicly financed program; and
- Lawmakers found guilty of violating the act face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
IM-22 passed with 51 percent of the vote in the 2016 election. It is the first statewide measure of its kind in the U.S. and a big win for campaign finance reformers and anti-corruption groups like Represent.us, who supported the measure.
However, the partisan leadership in the state legislature is about to declare a state of emergency just so they can get rid of IM-22. HB 1069, which passed the state House of Representatives Tuesday and is expected to be voted and will quickly make its way through the Senate on Wednesday and Thursday, will overturn the measure and deny voters an opportunity to save it by veto referendum.
“What’s happening this week in South Dakota is just like the U.S. House’s recent attempt to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics,” said Represent.Us Director Josh Silver:
“Establishment politicians are ignoring the ‘drain the swamp’ message of the election, and overturning the will of the voters in order to protect the corrupt status quo. They are rejecting their voters who did what politicians were unwilling to do: create common sense laws to prevent lobbyists and politicians from buying and selling undue political influence in a state plagued by scandal. The Rushmore State is the next battlefield in the struggle for power between the public and the political establishment.”
According to a source with Represent.us, South Dakota for Integrity has a case pending with the state Supreme Court to preserve IM-22. For now, however, it looks like state lawmakers are determined to keep the swamp intact — the will of the voters be damned.