KELO-TV's Perry Groten points out that Annette Bosworth's recent legal defense fundraising pitch is delusional. But might her fundraising letters also violate federal campaign finance law?

Bosworth has sent letters to supporters from her Senate campaign asking them to help raise $400,000 for her legal defense fund. Bosworth has already paid over $62,000 from her Senate campaign fund to lawyers working on her defense in the petition perjury trial she faces in May. Bosworth apparently views her perjury trial as a permissible use of campaign funds, which it likely is under the Federal Election Commission's "irrespective" test, since the trial arises directly from campaign activities.

So the perjury trial is a campaign activity. Cool. But neither the $400K pitch nor her courtroom-packing pitch identify themselves as being paid for by the Annette Bosworth for Senate campaign. They contain none of the disclamatory language required by the Federal Election Commission. And if Bosworth doesn't report those donations on her FEC campaign finance reports, she's in serious trouble.

So keep in mind, those of you getting Bosworth's letters and thinking about writing a check: your donations to the "legal defense fund" may really be donations to the campaign and should be a matter of public record with the Federal Election Commission.

p.s.: $400,000 for this one perjury trial? Bosworth has a tendency to inflate costs in her fundraising letters. $400K seems pretty steep for a trial in which the only defensible avenue counsel has is to admit guilt and beg for mercy. But not to worry: if the KELO comment section is any indication ("complete fruitcake... crooked... mentally ill..."), Bosworth's Facebook Likers have disappeared, right along with her fundraising potential.


Annette Bosworth's profitable exploitation of Base Connect and the campaign finance system appears to be petering out. The fake GOP 2014 Senate candidate's year-end FEC report shows net contributions of $4,309.87... which is still pretty good money for an unfocused, inefficient, criminal campaign that ended eight months ago. But it's a big drop from the $217K her direct mailers solicited in Q3, her first full quarter after her June loss, not to mention the $800K she pulled in Q2 and $77K in Q1.

People (all from outside South Dakota, mostly retirees) actually sent the Bosworth "campaign" $11,434.87 during the last three months of the year. However, during the same period, nine donors wised up and asked for their money back. Bosworth reimbursed $7,125 in contributions, 62% of her quarterly take.

Bosworth is also back to spending more than she makes. Her year-end report shows net expenditures of $44,341.14 in Q4

  • $17,500 settled her debt to Colorado-based campaign manager Patrick Davis.
  • $5,934.94 paid her Colorado lawyers.
  • $7,287.50 paid off Sioux Falls lawyer Jeff Beck, the first lawyer to handle her pending perjury case.
  • $5,000 went to Rapid City lawyer Robert Van Norman in October, to top off the $50,000 he received to be her third perjury-trial lawyer. He just got her trial delayed again until May; if she's going to keep him, she's going to need to amp up those campaign contributions... or stop pulling stunts like playing "Doctor of the Day" at the Legislature, see some paying patients, and tell hubby Chad Haber to get a job.
  • $7,200.96 went to Robert Watkins and Company, her Florida-based campaign treasurer.
  • $500 disappeared into "Petty Cash," which may be code for "Annette's daily Starbucks."

The year-end report indicates that Bosworth resolved (i.e., got out of paying) $7,933 to Davis, $20,750 to advertiser SSC Strategies, and $2,000 to campaign staffer Ethan Crisp. The campaign still lists a disputed debt of $33,000 to Sioux Falls attorney Joel Arends. Bosworth has $13,301.34 cash on hand.


Folks who ran for office here in South Dakota have eleven days to file their year-end campaign finance reports. As Bob Mercer noted Tuesday, that impending deadline has not stopped Secretary of State Shantel Krebs from unplugging the online campaign finance filing system for an upgrade. Secretary Krebs is busy—Mercer also reports that her office has processed 1,300 pistol permits since Krebs took charge on January 2. "Evidently," says Mercer, "a lot of public business had been left waiting for the new crew." (Yes, I do believe that is Mercer snarking on Gant again.)

Among other business Secretary Gant left for Secretary Krebs to handle is obtaining Chad Haber's delinquent campaign finance report. I check the campaign finance search portal and find that every statewide candidate from 2014 is up to date on filings except for the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General. Everyone else got their pre-general reports in by the October 24 deadline, with the exception of Constitution Party PUC candidate Wayne Schmidt, who waited until November 24. But Haber hasn't checked in with the state since September 2, when he declared on his financial interest statement that he had no sources of income greater than $2,000 and that his job was "full-time candidate."

You'd think a "full-time candidate" would have an easier time filing reports and following the law than those other poor slobs who ran for office while holding down regular jobs.

Secretary Krebs glances up from the big pile of papers on her desk and tells me that Haber faces a $3,000 penalty, the maximum allowed under SDCL 12-27-29.1. If he fails to file his year-end statement by February 2, Secretary Krebs will be able assess another $50 per day delinquent, up to another $3K.

Here's the campaign finance disclosure form—don't be late, candidates!


Annette Bosworth may be making a New Year's resolution to get out from under her various debts. Patrick Davis, former manager of Bosworth's Senate campaign (a sham aimed at financial reward, not electoral success), reports that Bosworth agreed to pay him $17,500 to settle her debt to him.

According to one website, Davis's firm, Patrick Davis Consulting, filed suit against Bosworth in El Paso County (Colorado) court in September. Bosworth's third-quarter Federal Election Commission report showed disputing an outstanding balance to Davis' firm of $25,433. The December 11 settlement leaves $7,933 in Bosworth's pocket that could (should?) have been Davis's.

Bosworth 2014 Q3 FEC report, p. 400

Bosworth 2014 Q3 FEC report, p. 400

She may need that nearly $8K to pay off her other debts. The other debt shown on p. 400 of Bosworth's Q3 report, $20,750 to ad maker SSC Strategies, remains unpaid, to the best of my knowledge, and over a year past due. Page 401 of the filing shows Bosworth disputing $2,000 owed to campaign staffer Ethan Crisp. The Q3 report indicated the defeated but still fundraising Bosworth campaign had $53,332.60 cash on hand as of September 30, 2014.

Still pending are court efforts by two former employees to recoup unpaid wages from Bosworth's non-profit Preventive Health Strategies.


Follow the Money publishes an analysis of the competitiveness of legislative elections nationwide. Alas, it's not for the cycle that just got done; it's for 2011–2012. But it's still instructive.

You may think South Dakota does a bad job of recruiting candidates to make our Legislative contests real contests. Indeed, in 2012, a whopping 30% of our 105 seats in the Legislature went unchallenged. Worse, only 33% of our Legislative races were "monetarily competitive," which Follow the Money defines as the top losing candidate raising at least half of what the winning candidate raised (or, in the case of a race with multiple seats available, like our House races, the top loser raising at least half of the average raised by the winners).

But things are tough all over and mostly tougher than here. On monetary competitiveness, South Dakota's Legislative races rank 8th nationwide:

State Number of Seats up for Election Percent of Seats Contested Percent of Seats in Monetarily Competitive Races Rank
Alaska 59 71% 37% 6
Arizona 90 69% 48% 4
Arkansas 135 53% 30% 10
California 100 98% 23% 15
Colorado 85 99% 28% 12
Connecticut 187 81% 51% 3
Delaware 62 61% 23% 16
Florida 160 65% 8% 45
Georgia 235 23% 3% 47
Hawaii 76 63% 17% 26
Idaho 105 78% 20% 23
Illinois 177 44% 14% 33
Indiana 125 73% 22% 17
Iowa 126 77% 23% 14
Kansas 165 72% 22% 18
Kentucky 119 48% 14% 32
Louisiana 144 56% 15% 29
Maine 186 96% 71% 1
Massachusetts 200 38% 15% 31
Michigan 110 99% 13% 35
Minnesota 201 97% 48% 5
Mississippi 174 44% 11% 38
Missouri 180 53% 10% 40
Montana 126 82% 29% 11
Nebraska 25 84% 32% 9
Nevada 54 81% 20% 21
New Hampshire 424 90% 70% 2
New Mexico 112 51% 21% 20
New York 213 72% 11% 39
North Carolina 170 59% 8% 42
North Dakota 69 87% 35% 7
Ohio 117 86% 16% 27
Oklahoma 125 38% 9% 41
Oregon 76 86% 25% 13
Pennsylvania 228 53% 13% 36
Rhode Island 113 58% 16% 28
South Carolina 170 31% 8% 42
South Dakota 105 70% 33% 8
Tennessee 115 58% 13% 34
Texas 181 61% 6% 46
Utah 90 86% 12% 37
Vermont 182 57% 20% 24
Virginia 138 46% 15% 30
Washington 124 80% 20% 22
West Virginia 117 79% 21% 19
Wisconsin 115 75% 18% 25
Wyoming 75 36% 8% 44

We beat the national averages of 66% of seats contested and 24% of seats monetarily competitive.

Follow the Money notes that three of the five most monetarily competitive states— Maine, Connecticut, and Arizona—make full public financing available to legislative candidates. A fourth member of the top five, Minnesota, offers partial public campaign financing.

South Dakota ranks down in the bottom ten in a category where we should be happy to lag—the actual cost of running for Legislature:

State Average Raised by
Highest Legislative Fundraisers
Alaska $65,978 28
Arizona $48,898 34
Arkansas $65,584 29
California $864,811 1
Colorado $71,301 26
Connecticut $42,022 37
Delaware $43,489 36
Florida $234,632 9
Georgia $80,305 23
Hawaii $67,806 27
Idaho $31,783 39
Illinois $437,193 3
Indiana $126,900 15
Iowa $141,223 14
Kansas $52,725 32
Kentucky $84,911 22
Louisiana $198,108 10
Maine $10,315 43
Massachusetts $85,248 21
Michigan $106,888 19
Minnesota $37,936 38
Mississippi $54,222 31
Missouri $121,242 17
Montana $12,313 42
Nebraska $119,586 18
Nevada $188,327 11
New Hampshire $4,508 47
New Mexico $62,364 30
New York $249,530 7
North Carolina $162,599 12
North Dakota $7,987 45
Ohio $310,648 5
Oklahoma $104,250 20
Oregon $251,776 6
Pennsylvania $235,657 8
Rhode Island $30,853 40
South Carolina $74,705 24
South Dakota $19,439 41
Tennessee $122,105 16
Texas $526,064 2
Utah $51,259 33
Vermont $4,974 46
Virginia $330,190 4
Washington $145,582 13
West Virginia $44,780 35
Wisconsin $72,681 25
Wyoming $9,606 44
Nationwide $131,672

$19,439 to run for a part-time job in Pierre is more than any sane person should spend, but the average top amount raised in each legislative race in South Dakota in 2012 was just a little more than one seventh the average top legislative campaign haul nationwide.

Stay tuned: I may be able to update these figures with some South Dakota campaign finance data for 2014... but note that legislative candidates don't have to file their year-end campaign finance reports to incoming Secretary of State Shantel Krebs until February 5, 2015. (That's two days after the final day for legislators to submit individual bills—don't forget, legislators!)

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In political trivia, Democrat Corinna Robinson netted a meager $3,765 in the final two weeks of her Congressional campaign.

Robinson received 6.6% of that couch-cushion change from her Rapid City neighbor Robert Van Norman, who donated $250 on October 17.

That amount really is couch-cushion change for Van Norman. On August 21 and September 11, Van Norman's law firm received $50,000 from the Senate campaign fund of Annette Bosworth to represent the fake and failed GOP primary candidate in her February perjury trial.

We may conclude that Van Norman is a chivalrous gentleman, willing to help damsels in the greatest distress.

While Bosworth was pretending to witness signatures from Hutterites, Van Norman was supporting Rick Weiland for Senate. On March 14, Van Norman sent the Weiland campaign $1,000.


Pat Powers notices that Mike Rounds got campaign money from TURPAC, the National Turkey Federation PAC. $5,000, according to Open Secrets, the fourth-highest amount TURPAC gave to any of its favored seventeen Senate candidates. Rep. Kristi Noem got $2,500 in turkey money, above the median for TURPAC donations to 74 House candidates. TURPAC gave Noem $2,000 in 2012. Prior to that, I find TURPAC contributing $1,000 to Stephanie Herseth in 2006, $1,000 to Tom Daschle in 2004 and $2,000 in 1998, and $500 to John Thune in 2000 and $500 in 1998.

The National Turkey Federation PAC has a ten-member executive board that since 2011 has included Jeff "Not Bollen's Partner" Sveen of Dakota Provisions in Huron, South Dakota. Sveen gave Rounds $3,000 of his own money to run for Senate. While Rounds was Governor, the state lent Dakota Provisions $3,000,000. Rounds's EB-5 program funneled another $55 million into Sveen's turkey plant, which used that money to refinance its debt. Jeff Sveen worked as Joop Bollen's lawyer and crafted the clever privatization deal that allowed Bollen to divert millions in EB-5 revenues from the state to his pockets.

Ah, friendship.

Related: The Government Operations and Audit Committee of the South Dakota Legislature quietly signed off Friday on blaming Richard Benda for everything wrong with the state's EB-5 program. I'll have more on GOAC's reprehensible report later.


Yesterday was the deadline for South Dakota candidates to submit their pre-general campaign finance reports to the Secretary of State. Governor Dennis Daugaard and his running mate Lt. Gov. Matt Michels both have their reports in; so do Democrat Rep. Susan Wismer and Independent Mike Myers. (Myers's running mate Lora Hubbel has also reported, but her filing shows no money in or out.) Here are the totals that have flowed in an out of the gubernatorial campaigns over the last four months:

Raised Spent Cash on Hand
Dennis Daugaard (R) $702,918.35 $878,672.73 $1,460,323.18
Matt Michels (R) $70,616.26 $46,165.02 $24,951.24
Susan Wismer (D) $207,852.50 $238,716.93 $18,391.64
Mike Myers (I) $325.00 $3,688.10 $156.07

Note that Myers has contributed a few thousand out of his own pocket to his own campaign. The Raised numbers here reflect the dollar votes of confidence from others.

As one would expect, Team Daugaard is moneywise untouchable. Daugaard and Michels have $1.5 million on hand to paint every Interstate billboard with Dennis's checked shirt and Matt's manly mustache... or, more likely, to shore up fellow Republicans. Since June, Daugaard's campaign has poured over $143,000 into other GOP campaigns, including $100K to the South Dakota Republican Party, $10K for Shantel Krebs's Secretary of State campaign, and $18.5K for Republican Legislative candidates. (He also gave $250 to the Colton Volunteer Fire Department... perhaps to help put out the fire around Mike Rounds's EB-5 barn?) Michels has greased the state GOP with another $40K, plus a grand for Rounds for Senate.

The Wismer campaign, by contrast, has not been able to spread any such largesse to other Democratic candidates. Before building love with folks down-ticket, Wismer will need to pay off her dad: the $18K Wismer has on hand is less than the $25K loan Maurice Jones loaned the campaign. Dems, better turn on the spigot now to get Wismer out of debt and make that last get-out-the-vote push!

As for Myers... well, I hate to make this comparison, but financially speaking, in the last four months, this blog has outperformed the Myers campaign in numbers of dollars and donors. (Thank you, dear readers, for ringing that tip jar!) In other words, if fundraising means anything, this blog could mount a more effective statewide campaign than the Independent gubernatorial candidate.


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