Former South Dakota Republican Party exec Joel Rosenthal joins other prominent Republicans and a whole bunch of angry South Dakotans in saying that the new Republican-backed policy of giving taxpayer dollars to the partisan, conservative American Legislative Exchange Council is a bad idea:

I like conservative groups and think they can impact the process. I just don’t think it is very conservative that the government augments their efforts with public money.

...Now the GOP majority has extended travel and paying memberships to Legislative Associations. In the case of ALEC, they may have handed the Democrats a political issue. More importantly while they find they may have pulled a fast one on the South Dakota taxpayer (over a $50 annual membership) I question why would those that believe and espouse smaller government want to have the State pay for their non government partisan activity?

ALEC may provide important conservative ideas, some of which I support but the State of South Dakota should not pay [Joel Rosenthal, "Get Real," South Dakota Straight Talk, 2013.05.29].

Dang: more folks who put principle over crass self-interest like Joel Rosenthal might have kept me in the SDGOP... unlike mealy-mouthed corporate welfarists like Mike Rounds, who drove me out.

Rosenthal proposes reasonable alternatives, like giving legislators a partial travel stipend to spend as they see fit, requiring such conference costs to come from documentable campaign funds, or using online technology instead of travel.

Getting their prefab pro-corporate legislation from national groups is bad enough; asking South Dakotans to pay their way to these cushy conferences is beyond the pale. Folks on both sides of the aisle recognize that our Republican legislators are misusing our money for their selfish purposes; we can only hope they will listen to the wise advice of Mr. Rosenthal and put that money back in the public cookie jar.