Sunday, December 4, 2016

Memo to South Dakota's Governing Class: Keep Yer Pickle-Packin' Hands Off IM 22

South Dakota has a motto.  It's Under God The People Rule.  It isn't "under the government the people rule." It's "Under God."  Atheists and non-believers alike understand that to mean that the
Under God The People Rule
Get It?
people of the state are the ultimate source of authority when it comes to how things operate. Seems pretty plain, simple and straightforward to me, but seeing the apoplectic and apocalyptic reaction to last month's passage of the sweeping government reform measure (IM 22) that will change the way business gets done in Pierre, I wonder if our elected officials need reminding of where power lies in this state.
      opposed the measure here, in my column at the Rapid City Journal, on television and at a public forum. I abhor the fact that it will now require the state of SD to set aside $10 million right away in a public financing of campaigns provision.  The rest of it seems draconian, but for the most part I like that it puts transparency into government operations, creates an ethics commission and severely limits gifts to lawmakers by lobbyists. But, my arguments against it notwithstanding, the people went ahead and passed it anyway.  Oh, well. It's happened 'afore and it'll happen agin'.
     As to the reaction by the entrenched political class in Pierre, 25 legislators and some outside individuals/groups responded with a lawsuit filed in state court challenging the law's constitutionality.  The case is set to be heard this week.  Essentially they're saying that the judgement of the majority of voters in South Dakota was flawed and that they passed a law that in itself is illegal. Governor Dennis Daugaard condescendingly said that voters were "misled" and that they were "deceived" by $1 million in out-of-state money supporting the campaign.  The Governor ignores the fact that more than $600 thousand in opposition money came from out-of-state interests, mainly from the Koch Brothers' Americans For Prosperity organization.  
     South Dakotans who voted for IM 22 have good reason to feel disdained and insulted by
A New Day In Pierre
Like It Or Not
their Governor's cavalier dismissal of their ability to make intelligent judgements in a voting booth. Considering that serious money poured into both sides of the measure and that it got plenty of media coverage, voters were probably as well-informed on this issue as any they've ever had to consider. More to the point, they have strong memories of the blatant corruption and the weak investigation that followed the EB-5 fiasco in recent years, as well as the hideously ineffective oversight that let the Gear-Up scandal happen. People are sick of it, and "Under God" they have spoken.  Our political class should be paying heed, not resisting.  


  1. You are so right John. I voted for the measure, even though like you, I don't like the fact that campaign finance was tied to it. If only the possible or probable effects of Marcie's Law had gotten the same type of coverage before the election. Why wasn't attorney general Jackley pointing out to the people the effects that amendment could have on every part of our lives, be it press, law enforcement, or even medical care?

  2. Just saw this--excellent column, John!

  3. I didn't know the Koch bros. were behind a significant part of the funding of the opposition campaign. Thank you for that information.

  4. Well, I'm a little late coming to this fray but would like to point out that the cost of this measure was clearly spelled out to the voters on the ballot and no one had a problem with sacrificing a ten spot apiece to see IM 22 put into action. Besides that once the contingency fund was reached only cost would have been to keep it full. My math says that the public funding of elections could have been done for just a little over a buck per resident. What been done with IM 22 with a "state of emergency" is rotten!