Tuesday, September 25, 2018

First Up In My Ballot Question Run-Through: Initiated Measure 24, Banning Out-Of-State Contributions To Ballot Question Committees. I'm Agin' It.

     I'm like a lot of frustrated, disgusted, wary and just plain tired South Dakotans who are fed
IM-24?  NO!
Good Intent, Lousy Outcome
up with our state being used as some sort of political laboratory. 
In 2016, more than $10 million was spent by out of state interests on South Dakota ballot issues that were designed as marketing vehicles for agendas promoted throughout the country.  It's relatively cheap to run a campaign here, and a win in South Dakota would give supporters some serious credibility as they pursued their aims in other states.  Payday lending, victim rights, campaign finance reform . . . they and other measures were on the ballot, and the money for and against them poured in.    We have good reason to be tired of the process, and the frustration led to a measure, IM-24, on this November's ballot meant to put the practice to a halt.  It's easy to support the intent, but the outcome?  That's another story.

     I certainly share the vexation, but then again, who in this state, or the entire country for that matter, hasn't been frustrated at one time or another by some of the hassles created by the delirium that is sometimes called Democracy?  Like it or not, Initiated Measure 24, which would ban "individuals, political action committees, and other entities from outside South Dakota from making contributions to ballot question committees," has some decent intentions, but that's where its positives stop.
     First off, there's the issue of its constitutionality.  In assessing IM-24's chances of a constitutional challenge should the measure pass, South Dakota's Legislative Research Council Director Jason Hancock said last June  in a letter to IM-24 supporters that "contribution limits to ballot question committees . . . have been viewed by the [U.S.Supreme] court as a restraint on the rights of association and free speech." Secondly, it just doesn't seem right, much less constitutional.  I know I'd be plenty put off by a law that, just because I live in South Dakota, would keep me from sending in a contribution to a committee pushing a ballot issue in, say, Nebraska, if I had an interest in the outcome.  The whole conversation has a "no way" quality to it.
     IM-24's dubious constitutional prospects along with its self-evident repudiation of the fundamental rights of Americans has led to some strange bedfellowing.  Writing in opposition to the measure are Ben Lee, state director of the Koch brothers-funded Americans For Prosperity ("I believe that citizens should have the right to support the causes and issues they believe in").  Simultaneously Cory Heidelberger, whose Dakota Free Press blog has proven over the years to be about as antithetical to Americans For Prosperity as anyone can get, has said that  IM-24 "is a step in an unconstitutional direction."  That these two stalwarts of their respective and utterly contradictory worldviews can unify in their opposition to this measure says much about its inherently obnoxious nature.  IM-24 just plain doesn't cut the mustard and should be resoundingly defeated by South Dakota's voters.



  1. Thanks. I agree. Good intentions,possibly bad outcome.

  2. The part of that restraint that really is amazing to this reader is that only ballot measures are restrained. How about a US Senate seat which drew over 35 million dollars mostly out of state contributions, to defeat the senate majority or minority leader depending out the countrywide vote went. That would seem to be much more egregious.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with "Unknown" above. State GOP leaders that brought IM24 to us are increasingly nervous with state citizen's ability to question/change state government. Other measures restricting the initiative process are also on the ballot from these guys!