Overturns voter backed ethics referendum despite massive constituent outcry
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pierre, SD: Today, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed HB 1069, a repeal of a the South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act that was just passed by voters in November. Nearly 52 percent of voters backed the anti-corruption law. The repeal proposal overturns the election results.
“The public will remember this vote as the catalyst that launched the American anti-corruption movement,” said Josh Silver, Director of Represent.Us, a national nonpartisan anti-corruption group that supported the ballot campaign. “The South Dakota voter snub will ignite grassroots backlash in the Rushmore State and catalyze democracy reformers nationwide. It is un-American to reject election results, and the people will not forget this.”
Legislators quietly filed the bill and expedited its review starting on January 20 while the nation was focused on the presidential inauguration. Lawmakers declared an “emergency” to expedite the law’s repeal and ensure voters would not have another say on it.
Happening NOW! Represent South Dakota members project #RespectOurVote on Pierre State Capitol
Posted by Represent.Us on Tuesday, January 31, 2017
“The will of the people was completely rejected by self serving politicians backed by big money national groups hellbent on blocking government ethics and transparency laws,” said Doug Kronaizl, spokesperson for Represent South Dakota, the local chapter of Represent.Us “While they’re at it, maybe the politicians should change our state motto from ‘Under God, the People Rule’ to ‘Under God, the Lobbyists Rule’. But the people will fight back and the political establishment will not get away with this. South Dakotans are watching, we’re angry and our fight against corruption will continue.”
The Senate vote on February 1 was 27-8 in favor of repeal with two Republicans joining the six Democrats in opposition. On January 24, the House approved the bill 54-13 with four Republicans joining the nine Democrats in opposition. The anti-corruption law appeared on the November ballot as Initiated Measure 22 (IM-22) and was the nation’s first statewide Anti-Corruption Act.
The repeal effort sparked a national media firestorm and a wave of activism in South Dakota, echoed around the country. Immediately after the Senate voted to repeal on Wednesday afternoon, a petition calling on Governor Daugaard to veto HB 1069 quickly gathered more than 12,000 signatures. Members of anti-corruption group Represent South Dakota projected “Respect Our Vote” on the Capitol building on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, as they gathered at the capitol building to show support for IM-22, a plane sponsored by South Dakota members of MAYDAY.US flew above, trailing a banner that said “Shame on You, Respect our Vote.”
- IM-22 passed with nearly 52% of the vote, despite a well-funded opposition campaign nearly 97 percent financed by groups backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch.
- Immediately after IM-22 passed, several lobbyist hosted events were canceled, including a welcome dinner, a mixer, and a social, and politicians complained that they would have to pay for their own meals and travel. Political parties told politicians not to take large gifts from lobbyists and two lobbyists resigned from the state Transportation Commission.
- In late November twenty-five state legislators and a lobbying group filed a lawsuit against the State of South Dakota to challenge the constitutionality of some of the Act’s provisions. No judge has declared any provisions unconstitutional.
- Circuit Court Judge Mark Barnett, a 2002 Republican candidate for governor who was an appointee of then Governor Mike Rounds, issued a preliminary injunction on the Act to put implementation of the law on hold, temporarily.
- Members of the South Dakota legislature introduced HB 1069, to repeal IM-22 and declare a “state of emergency”. The emergency clause means the repeal takes effect immediately, preventing South Dakotans from exercising their right to another vote on the Act.
- Members of the South Dakota legislature introduced a number of “replacement” bills, most of which are toothless and only serve as window dressing for the legislature.
- The controversy over the repeal created a national media firestorm, with coverage including “South Dakota lawmakers are showing us that populism is a lie”, The Washington Post, “S.D. lawmakers move to gut ethics reform”, USA Today, “South Dakota Lawmakers Snuffing Out Ethics Reform Referendum”, The New York Times and “South Dakotans Voted for Tougher Ethics Laws but Lawmakers Object,” National Public Radio.
- The people of South Dakota showed up en masse at Cracker Barrel meetings around the state in legislative districts to demonstrate support for IM-22 and express their outrage at the disrespect being shown to their votes and the democratic process.
- The House and Senate voted to pass HB 1069 and the Governor signed the bill, repealing the nation’s first Anti-Corruption Act.
About the South Dakota Anti-Corruption Act
- Limits lobbyist gifts to politicians. Before passage, South Dakota was the only state in America where lobbyists could give secret, unlimited gifts to politicians. This law prohibits lobbyists from providing gifts to legislative and executive branch officials and staff of more than $100 per year.
- Strengthens transparency requirements. Requires campaigns to report their spending online, including increasing the frequency of disclosure, requiring large contributions to be reported more quickly, and making the information more accessible to the public.
- Toughens penalties. Increases penalty from misdemeanor to felony for bribery.
- Creates ethics watchdog. Establishes the South Dakota Ethics Commission is an independent commission to prevent corruption and its appearance, to protect the integrity of the democratic process, and to ensure that state ethics laws are not violated.
- Lowers contribution limits. Before passage, there were no limits on how much money PACs could give to candidates for the legislature and local county offices. This measure limits PAC donations to $750 for legislative and local county campaigns.
- Closes the revolving door. Makes it illegal for public officials and top staff to take jobs as lobbyists for two years after leaving office.
- Boosts public participation. Creates a publicly funded campaign system to give voters more voice in elections and make it easier to participate.
Dan Krassner, [email protected], 850.321.0432