Rereading background on the Dan Willard robocall trial reminds me of some legal housekeeping our Legislature did for the Governor last winter. You will recall that, when Governor Dennis Daugaard started banging the drum for an investigation of the spate of anonymous robocalls targeting various Republican leaders in the summer of 2012, Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) responded with a demand that Attorney General Marty Jackley investigate the disclaimerless push-polling the Governor had paid for before the June primary. That push-polling targeted five hotly contested Republican primary races, unlike the summer robocalls, which feckless targeted a number of Republicans who faced no November challengers. Despite the arguably greater impact of the Daugaard push-polling, the Attorney General declined to investigate.
To make sure such gubernatorial behavior goes uninvestigated in the future, the 2013 Legislature passed Senate Bill 200, which amended campaign finance law to include this exception to the political communications requiring a disclosure filing with the Secretary of State:
Any communication used for the purpose of polling if the poll questions do not expressly advocate for or against a candidate, public office holder, ballot question... [Senate Bill 200, Section 2, 2013 Legislature].
See? It's just like Tony Venhuizen said: "A poll makes no communication of any idea or statement at all - it simply asks questions."
Interestingly, Rep. Stace Nelson agrees: he voted for SB 200, along with 60 of his House colleagues.
Next time, Dan, send out your robocalls in the form of a push-poll: "Would knowing that Russ Olson calls criticism of his voting record terrorism make you less likely to vote for him?"