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Politicians Look to Rob Voters of Their Right to End Corruption in South Dakota

Author: RepresentUs
Created: 29 December, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
5 min read

PIERRE, S.D. – On December 29th, the South Dakota Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment was certified as Amendment W for the November 2018 ballot by Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. This is a victory for the anti-corruption movement and South Dakotans who are fighting back, after the repeal of the South Dakota Anti-Corruption Act earlier this year.

In November 2016, South Dakota voters approved the Anti-Corruption Act, IM-22. In early 2017 the South Dakota Legislature repealed the act in a move that was nationally viewed as shockingly undemocratic.

In South Dakota, voters viewed the repeal as a slap in the face and an affront to the state’s motto, “Under God, the People Rule.”

RELATED: Swamp Things: South Dakota Gets “F” in Ethics

Represent South Dakota, the grassroots, bipartisan group pushing for the amendment, says that establishment politicians and special interest lobbyists are scrambling to deny the will of the people once again.

South Dakota’s 2018 legislative session will convene in Pierre in January to consider several anti-voter proposals, including:

  • Taking away South Dakotans’ power to decide which ballot measures become law by giving the final say to the legislature.
  • Ending majority rule by using a 55% vote requirement to make it harder for ballot measures to be approved.
  • Meddling with the ballot language to mislead and confuse voters.
  • Eliminating South Dakotans’ power to propose amendments to the state constitution.
  • Putting the legislature’s own proposals on the June 2018 primary election ballot to preempt measures appearing on the November 2018 ballot.

“The political establishment’s ongoing effort to undermine and disrespect South Dakota voters is appalling,” said Doug Kronaizl, a volunteer spokesperson for Represent South Dakota.

“After brazenly repealing our voter-approved law to protect South Dakota from corruption, they’re working tirelessly to chip away at the power of voters and the sanctity of our democracy. It has never been more obvious that we need a law like the South Dakota Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment. What began as anger and frustration over the legislature’s brazen repeal of IM-22 has become a rallying point for South Dakotans of all political stripes who demand a cleaner government that respects its voters.”

“When it comes to fighting corruption and holding our government accountable, it should be the voters, not the political insiders, who set the rules,” said Darrell Solberg, co-sponsor of the amendment and a former Democratic legislator.

“After consistently being ignored and disrespected, South Dakotans are fighting back to make our state a place where ‘Under God, the People Rule’. If the political establishment succeeds, and kills the South Dakota Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment in its cradle, we’ll have to change our state motto from ‘Under God, the People Rule’ to ‘Under God, Lobbyists and Establishment Politicians Rule’.”

“Let’s hope some common sense legislators find the courage to stop any lawsuits or rule changes before the vote,” said Mitch Richter, a co-sponsor of the amendment and a former Republican legislator.

“South Dakotans deserve a vote on this anti-corruption amendment to begin repairing the broken system and put an end to the corrupt culture. This amendment is a response to what the Legislature has done and failed to do; it bans foreign money in our elections, cracks down on lobbyist gift-giving and returns power to the people.”

About the South Dakota Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment:

  • Protect voter-approved laws from legislative meddling. By giving the voters the final say, the Amendment will protect the initiative process, as well as laws passed by the voters through that process, by creating strong legislative tampering clauses.
  • Ban foreign money from South Dakota politics.
  • Restrict lobbyist gifts to politicians. When politicians rewrote our strong lobbyist gift limits, they included unnecessary exceptions for things like food, entertainment, and alcohol. The Amendment seals those loopholes to clamp down on the undue influence of our elected officials.
  • Ban campaign money from unions and corporations to candidates and political parties. Rather than supporting the strong contribution limits passed by voters in IM22, politicians instead chose to do the opposite and open up our elections to even more amounts of big money. The Amendment undoes that change and sends the message that our elections are not for sale.
  • Stop politicians from using public office for personal gain. The Amendment will ban and criminalize the use of state resources by public officials for personal gain, thereby protecting taxpayer dollars from the risk of waste and misuse.
  • Toughen ethics law enforcement. After repealing IM 22, legislators created a weak accountability board and exempted their own Legislative Branch from its oversight. This Amendment responds to and builds upon previous proposals to create an effectively empowered and balanced ethics commission.

Read the full text of the South Dakota Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment here. More information online at http://www.representsd.org/.

National groups from across the political spectrum, Represent.UsTake Back Our Republic and End Citizens United, support the effort to pass the South Dakota Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment.

“This campaign is a turning point in the American anti-corruption movement,” said Josh Silver, director of Represent.Us, the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign. “The repeal of IM-22 was a catalyst that invigorated activists in South Dakota and around the country, and gave them the motivation to take back their government. Recent antics by the South Dakota Legislature are adding fuel to the fire.”

“Individual participation in the American political system is the only way to preserve and strengthen our liberty,” said John Pudner, director of Take Back our Republic, a conservative anti-corruption group. “We cannot have a healthy, thriving republic when the South Dakota Legislature fights to undermine the individual voters who are trying to participate in the democratic process.”

“The grassroots anti-corruption movement is ready to take on this fight and support the folks on the ground in South Dakota,” said Tiffany Muller, president and executive director of End Citizens United. “We cannot allow the power-hungry political establishment to continue to rig our political system against the people.”