To make your raisin bran soggier, here is the East River Concerned Citizens postcard attacking Rep. Kathy Tyler:

East River Concerned Citizens attack postcard (front), October 2014

(click to embiggen!)

East River Concerned Citizens attack postcard (back), October 2014

(click to embiggen!)

ERCC PAC boss Spencer Cody continues the lie he began last March of calling Rep. Tyler a liar for daring to disagree with him on policy. Cody's own card is filled with lies:

  • Rep. Tyler actually voted for 2014's HB 1162 both times it came before the full House during the 2014 session. HB 1162 became law. The amendment for which Tyler voted on the House floor still said sex-selective abortions are wrong and against state policy.
  • 2014's HB 1180 did not require neutrality of "Pregnancy Health Centers." HB 1180 excluded organizations that provide adoption and/or abortion services from offering the state-mandated counseling. Pregnancy health centers are not neutral: state law empowers them to actively discourage abortion.
  • 2013's HB 1237 did not fix a loophole. Pre-1237, South Dakota's oppressive 72-hour waiting period was consistent for every woman seeking an abortion. HB 1237 created an exception forcing women to wait even longer if the waiting period included a weekend. The bill was a blatant ploy to punish women even further for seeking an abortion by maximizing the economic impact of having to take off work from regular shifts to seek this constitutionally protected medical procedure.

Given all these votes on the record, Rep. Kathy Tyler would appear to be perfectly "candid" and "up front" about her positions. Cody is implying that Rep. Tyler is a liar when she clearly is not... and when his own propaganda falls far from candor.

4 comments

In small ball, I notice that Spencer Cody has submitted a revised Statement of Organization for his attack PAC East River Concerned Citizens. I noticed this week that he failed to include the city in the physical address of his PAC, making it hard for interested citizens and journalists to contact his PAC and ask why they are spreading exaggerations and insults about Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-4/Big Stone City).

East River Concerned Citizens PAC, original incomplete statement of organization, 2014.09.14

East River Concerned Citizens PAC, original incomplete statement of organization, 2014.09.14

Quick like a bunny, Cody penciled "Hoven, SD 57450" into his address:

East River Concerned Citizens PAC, amended but still incomplete statement of organization, 2014.10.23

East River Concerned Citizens PAC, amended but still incomplete statement of organization, 2014.10.23

But Cody still left off the full address for his PAC's bank. The PAC's web address also leads nowhere, showing the East River PAC has twice filed an incomplete and evasive campaign report.

In big ball, Cody has filed his PAC's pre-general campaign finance report. So far, ERCC (yes, pronounce the acronym; it's appropriate) has spent $4,871 on advertising and $766.41 on printing. I assume that's the split between the bullying radio ad and the postcards Cody is sending to attack Rep. Tyler. (Postcards, but no entry for postage? Cody, do you need a campaign finance paperwork class? Or do you just need class?)

That's pretty much ERCC's whole kitty so far. It's donations came from four sources:

  • Harvey Jewett: $1,000
  • Rudy Nef: $1,000
  • Brown for Senate: $1,000
  • Codington County Republican Central Committee: $2,650

Harvey Jewett is the Aberdeen lawyer and Regent who's been implicated in the EB-5 scandal and who would have been in a position to keep the Board of Regents from paying attention to what the EB-5 program was doing on the Northern State University campus through December 2009.

Rudy Nef is chairman of the board at the Valley Queen Cheese factory in Milbank. Valley Queen runs on milk produced by area dairies, many of which were funded with EB-5 visa investment dollars.

Senator Corey Brown (R-23/Gettyburg) has consistently fought Rep. Tyler's effort to get the Legislature's Executive Board to discuss evidence of mismanagement and fraud in the state's EB-5 program. He blocked that discussion last month with the specious claim that the Legislature has no authority to discuss criminal activity. Senator Brown has also personally demeaned Rep. Tyler, insulting her expertise and research on EB-5.

Cody says in his statement of organization that ERCC's mission is "advocating traditional South Dakota values and economic growth." I get the impression the purpose is less the former and more the latter, as three of its four reported donors appear inclined to keep easy money like EB-5 flowing into their friends' pockets than in promoting traditional South Dakota values like honesty, open government, and civility.

16 comments

Here's one sign that Democrat Robin Page may beat Phil Jensen out of his District 33 Senate seat:

Campaign signs, one block west of Pennington County GOP HQ, West Main St., Rapid City, SD, 2014.10.22.

Campaign signs, one block west of Pennington County GOP HQ, West Main St., Rapid City, SD, 2014.10.22.

This photo comes from one block west of Pennington County Republican headquarters on West Main Street in Rapid City. We see the expected Republican signs for Daugaard, Rounds, Krebs, and Gosch. But we see no sign from the GOP incumbent Senator Jensen. Representing District 33 is Democratic challenger Page.

Remember that Senator Jensen drew disdain from his own party last spring for his hangup on social issues and his awkward commenters on racism. Senator Jensen only narrowly survived a primary challenge. Page is now working hard with direct mail and door-knocking to put Jensen out of a part-time job.

This vacant green hosts a couple other non-Republicans amidst the usual conservative suspects. District 34's GOP Rep. Dan Dryden has his sign up, but instead of fellow Republican Jeff Partridge, we find Democratic candidate Steve Stenson advertised. And from District 35, we get the strange mix of Tea-flavored spokesmodel Lynne Hix-DiSanto and Democrat Dave Freytag, with no visible sign from incumbent GOP Rep. Blaine "Chip" Campbell.

One would think every Republican in the neighborhood would want to get his or her name up next to the party leaders on that street and crowd out those pesky Democratic interlopers. But it could be that the Republican sign-minders down the street are sending a message to Jensen in tolerating Page's challenge.

21 comments

Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler, Mike Rounds, and Gordon Howie "debated" on South Dakota Public Broadcasting last night to prove who ought to be South Dakota's next Senator. Here are the most important observations to come from the debate:

  1. Gordon Howie wins on points. He challenged Mike Rounds directly on EB-5, saying the former governor had brought the scandal upon himself by skipping debates and giving false information. He challenged Rounds to testify under oath on EB-5. Howie blasted Rounds for doubling the state budget and leaving a $127-million structural deficit. And Rounds ignored those points. Ignoring points usually means you lose a debate.
  2. Gordon Howie railed against "corruption" and "crony capitalism," yet he used the public airwaves to plug a private company. He joked that all the campaign ads were crowding out Taco John's commercials. Hmm... is Gordon making a deal for his own Schiefferesque cavalry cash from a conservative businessman and USD grad?
  3. Mike Rounds implied EB-5 is good, because it's a program just like Canada has (well, had: Canada decided the visa investment program doesn't pay off and canceled it this year). By that logic, Rounds should embrace single-payer health insurance.
  4. Weiland felt too restrained, especially at the beginnings of his responses, as if he was overplaying the humble country-boy image. I understand the psychology at play, but gentle aw-shucksery will not defeat the Rounds machine. Weiland did build fire in each of his answers, but beating Rounds requires pushing Rounds off his script and forcing him to answer questions. (Remember: Rounds has proven really bad at answering questions!) Blend Weiland's policy and Howie's relentless attack last night, and you keep Mike Rounds out of the Senate.
  5. Weiland does get points for blowing raspberries at Senator Harry Reid. Weiland said he will not vote for Harry Reid or Republican Senator Mitch McConnell for majority leader, saying both men have led the Senate into dysfunction. He cleverly challenged Rounds to make the same pledge. Rounds muttered about Reid but didn't mention McConnell.
  6. Weiland also gets points for common sense solutions. Weiland advocated Senator Tom Harkin's bill to eliminate the income cap on Social Security tax and get Bill Gates to pay for protecting Social Security. Rounds called that a $100 billion tax hike on "job creators," which is code for reducing the middle class to serfdom under the wealthy elites backing Rounds.
  7. Speaking of Social Security, Pressler rejected Democratic arguments that he wants to raise the retirement age. Pressler said last night he would leave the retirement age where it is.
  8. Weiland pinned the Ryan budget on Rounds, saying Rounds backs the GOP House's intentions to gut Head Start, Pell Grants, and other programs that benefit the middle class. Weiland said Rounds would voucherize Medicare so old folks could take the Ryan coupons to buy insurance at Fischer Rounds. Rounds repeated his feeble dodge that he "admires" Paul Ryan's fiscal efforts but has never said he supports the Ryan budget... which is code for, "You have no idea what I'll do to you in office, and I don't have to tell you."
  9. Weiland also nicely flipped the Rounds argument that an obstructionist Senate is to blame for our woes. Weiland said we could have immigration reform now, with more secure borders, if Speaker Boehner would just take up the bipartisan bill the Senate passed last year 68-32.
  10. Rounds is now fully on board with Republican fear-mongering. Invoking ISIS and Ebola (thank goodness for one-word threats), Rounds repeated "safety and security" as much as he repeated "South Dakota common sense." He also said we should impose a travel ban to stop Ebola "right now."
  11. Pressler continues to look every bit the capable statesman alongside his younger, less experienced counterparts. He recites the same points in every debate—Independent caucus, obsolete bases in Italy, three-point immigration plan—but that's a focused candidate staying on message. And he keeps coming up with new images for his campaign. He's gone from naked rabbit to last night's David up against twelve goliaths (Rounds, Weiland, and PACs), with a slingshot of idealism and friendship (translation: paint your own signs, because Harriet and I can't afford them!). Pressler still talks policy and turns phrases as effectively as anyone else in the campaign.
47 comments

If Senator Tim Johnson was planning to engage in the climax of the campaign to replace him, I thought he would simply match Senator John Thune's pro-Rounds pitch with a warm, fuzzy pro-Weiland ad. This evening, an hour before the televised Senate candidates' debate on SDPB, Senator Johnson surprises us with a broadside fired at Rounds and the South Dakota Republican Party for politicizing Ellsworth Air Force Base and getting their facts wrong:

I know from my own personal experience that the paid political advertisement being run by candidate Mike Rounds claiming that Rick Weiland wants to close Ellsworth Air Force Base is false. I worked directly with Rick Weiland and Senator Tom Daschle for over a decade to defend Ellsworth Air Force Base from closure. Rick handled briefing materials for us and worked tirelessly as state director to defend, not to close, Ellsworth Air Force Base. I wish former Governor Bill Janklow were still with us because he too knew of and benefited from Rick Weiland's work to protect Ellsworth.

I will give Mr. Rounds the benefit of the doubt and assume he was unaware of these facts. But if his campaign continues to air this completely false advertising about Rick Weiland, it will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that it and Mr. Rounds are more concerned about political gain than about Ellsworth's future.

Anyone who has ever worked to defend Ellsworth knows that politicizing the discussion of that critical base is the surest way to jeopardize its future, and that is what this kind of irresponsible political advertising does [Senator Tim Johnson, quoted in South Dakota Democratic Party press release, 2014.10.23].

Senator Johnson doesn't just point out the factual and moral errors of Team Rounds's charge that a Senator Weiland would throw B-1B bombers in the trashbin. Senator Johnson establishes Weiland's past participation in preserving Ellsworth. Senator Johnson also quite boldly invokes the ghost of Bill Janklow to scare his descendant Republicans from telling any more lies about Weiland's commitment to national defense and local economic development.

Thank you, Senator Johnson, for speaking up!

32 comments

The Republican spin machine eagerly rebroadcasts an attack ad aired on KMSD Radio against Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-4/Big Stone City). Here's the text:

Being a state legislator has gone to Kathy Tyler's head. A small business man in Rapid City won a lawsuit against a customer that owed him money, but Kathy Tyler called and tried to overrule the judge. Kathy Tyler said she disagreed with the judge. She said she was a legislature [sic] and knew better. I don't know who she thinks she is trying to bully a small businessman. Kathy Tyler is a bully who misused her office. Please do not send Kathy Tyler back to Pierre. Give the little guy a break. Paid for by East River Concerned Citizens [political communication, transcribed from audio posted by Pat Powers, "Kathy Tyler Must Have Made the Wrong Small Businessman in Rapid City Mad," Dakota War College, 2014.10.22].

According to Rep. Tyler, East River Concerned Citizens has spent over $1,000 to broadcast this attack. East River Concerned Citizens is a PAC formed by Spencer Cody, vice president and assistant treasurer of South Dakota Right to Life. Cody attacked Rep. Tyler during the 2014 Legislative session, calling her a liar for opposing an abortion restriction that conservative Reps. Scott Munsterman (R-7/Brookings) and Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) voted against.

East River Concerned Citizens is breaking state law. Governor Dennis Daugaard, Attorney General Marty Jackley, and the Republican spin machine eagerly roasted Dan Willard for violating this statute with robocalls against sitting Republican legislators in 2012. SDCL 12-27-16 requires the following of ads like Cody's:

(1)      Any person or organization that makes a payment or promise of payment totaling one hundred dollars or more, including an in-kind contribution, for a communication which expressly advocates for or against a candidate, public office holder, ballot question, or political party shall append to or include in each communication a disclaimer that clearly and forthrightly:

  1. Identifies the person or organization making the independent expenditure for that communication;
  2. States the address or website address of the person or organization;
  3. States that the communication is independently funded and not made in consultation with any candidate, political party, or political committee; and
  4. If the independent expenditure is undertaken by an organization not including a candidate, public office holder, political party, or political committee, then the following notation must also be included: "Top Five Contributors" followed by a listing of the names of the five persons making the largest contributions to an organization during the twelve months preceding that communication.

A violation of this subdivision is a Class 1 misdemeanor... [SDCL 12-27-16].

The ad gives the PAC name, but it gives no physical or web address for contacting the organization. The ad does not include the "independently funded and not made in consultation" disclaimer. If I get ambitious and look up their statement of organization filed with the Secretary of State on September 14, 2014, I still can't send the PAC a letter, because Cody omitted the city and state, which is sloppy if not illegal.

Cody asks his Facebook followers for more money to expand his attacks to "the district 8 Senate race, district 26 Senate race, district 33 Senate, district 2 house, district 3 house, district 9 house, and district 15 house." He might want to save his money for a lawyer: surely the Governor and Attorney General will find this violation of campaign finance law just two weeks before an election on a hotly contested district as egregious as they found Dan Willard's robocalls two months before an election in which many of the targeted legislators faced no challengers.

Update 06:20 CDT: Funny that the ad pretends to defend "the little guy." As I understand from sources, "the little guy" appears to be the customer who paid a Rapid City business $1,600 and never received the merchandise he ordered. I'm working on that angle of the story....

36 comments

A couple weeks ago, Kevin Woster wondered when Larry Pressler's friend Kevin Schieffer would throw some money toward his old boss's U.S. Senate candidacy.

Schieffer is now throwing, forming a Super PAC to spend "a couple hundred thousand" on this ad with former staffers sticking up for the old man:

Go get 'em, boss. I say this as a devoted Weiland supporter: you may have just heard the best battle cry of the South Dakota election. Add the gentle tones, the nostalgia—and oh my gosh, the 80's hair!—and you have a beautiful if absolutely substanceless response to every possible critique that anyone might launch against Pressler. Rick Weiland can say Pressler is weak against Big Oil and weak on Social Security; Mike Rounds can say Pressler will back President Obama's liberal policies; Gordon Howie can say Pressler ate too much Camembert in Paris. Pressler can just flash this ad like a snazzy fake ID at the club: Go ahead and make those negative ads! They just prove what a nice guy I am!

Arrggh! That's not debate! That's bunnies and babies and getting people to vote because their hearts flutter!

Dang... and that's a pretty smart use of $200,000 in a race where voters' heads may be spinning from acrimony and acronyms.

Told tonight of Schieffer's investment in his campaign, Pressler blurted, "Oh God, that's awfully nice." When he recovers from that shock, Pressler can turn to Stuart Rothenberg, who opined Wednesday that the mostly unanswered GOP and Dem attacks on Pressler "appear to have worked," and channel Captain Steven Hiller in Independence Day and shout, "I ain't heard no fat lady!"

34 comments

In responses to reporter Bob Mercer's questions about South Dakota's EB-5 program, Mike Rounds downplayed his involvement in the EB-5-promoting South Dakota International Business Institute and his interaction with SDIBI director Joop Bollen:

[Mercer]: EB-5 began for dairy development in South Dakota in 2003. What was your role in that decision?

[Rounds]: I was aware of the desire to expand the federal program beyond dairy development.... I wasn't involved in the transactional details — but I did agree with the concept to create those jobs and diversify South Dakota's economy.

...[Mercer]: Joop Bollen was in charge of EB-5 and dairy development while he was employed at the South Dakota International Business Institute at Northern State University. How did you come to know him?

[Rounds]: I was aware of Mr. Bollen's early efforts to expand dairy development in South Dakota, and I have always been supportive of dairy development in our state. Direct interaction was limited updates on SDIBI's efforts came by way of staff reports [Bob Mercer, "Rounds Answers Reporter's Questions on EB-5 Scandal," Black Hills Pioneer, 2014.10.02].

Once again, Northern State University counsel John Meyer's sworn testimony in the Darley v. SDIBI arbitration contradicts Rounds's claims. On Day 3 of the Darley arbitration hearing, April 30, 2014, Darley attorney Jennifer Elkayam asked Meyer about several letters of agreement between SDIBI and the Governor's Office of Economic Development from 2005 to 2009. These letters laid out the economic development activities, including EB-5 visa investment recruitment and management, that GOED expected SDIBI to perform.

[Elkayam]: Can you explain, to your understanding or if you know, why GOED would not directly engage in these activities that SDIBI is called upon to perform under these letters of agreement?

[Meyer]: Well, I would say, in terms of the history of that office, these functions would have been performed by personnel employed within Tourism and State Development located in Pierre, but what happened was Joop Bollen was loaned under this cost reimbursement structure to GOED, and that's how SDIBI got involved

MS. ELKAYAM: I'm sorry. You said "loaned"?

THE WITNESS: "Loaned."

MR. [Darley Attorney Max] BLECHER: "Loaned."

MS. ELKAYAM: "Loaned" [transcript, Darley v. SDIBI JAMS arbitration hearing, Los Angeles, CA, 2014.04.30, pp. 484–485].

This loan piqued the interest of the arbitrator, the Honorable Robert A. Baines:

[Baines]: ...Who initiated this loaning process? Is it something that started at GOED and came to SDIBI for help, or was it the other way around where SDIBI proposed to the State Department that it would do these functions for a certain amount of money for the State?

[Meyer]: Judge, I don't know firsthand, but I, in my own mind, know what happened. I believe that idea came from the governor of South Dakota.

[Baines]: Okay.

[Meyer]: And I believe, based on a statement that Joop Bollen mentioned to me once, that he had gone down and interviewed with the governor.

I believe that's where that came from. So it would have emanated from the governor through Tourism and State Development and GOED to Northern --
were, in GOED or the State.

[Baines]: Uh-huh [Darley v. SDIBI, 2014.04.30, p. 486].

Uh-huh. Mike Rounds says he was "aware" of the things SDIBI did. John Meyer says Mike Rounds had the idea that sent SDIBI down the EB-5 path. Mike Rounds says he was "aware" of Joop Bollen's efforts but interacted only indirectly, through staff reports. John Meyer says Mike Rounds interviewed Joop Bollen personally in Pierre to get the program going.

14 comments

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