Mike Rounds is lying again. After yesterday's State Fair debate, the Rounds campaign issued a press release making these false claims:

Key points in today’s debate include:

  • Rick Weiland’s belief that everyone should be on Medicare; creating a single payer system.

Gov. Rounds disagrees.

“Rick is the only candidate in America who believes in signing everyone up for Medicare. Why? Because it’s a terrible idea that will ruin Medicare for every South Dakota senior” [Rounds for Senate campaign, press release, regurgitated by Pat Powers, Dakota War College, 2014.08.29].

Rounds dishes three errors:

  1. The semicolon in his fragment bullet point makes no sense. If creating is a participle modifying everyone should be on Medicare, the punctuation should be a comma.
  2. Rick Weiland is not advocating that everyone should be on Medicare. As Weiland has stated consistently throughout his campaign and as has been reported regularly by multiple new outlets, he supports opening Medicare enrollment to all willing customers, of any age. That is not single-payer... unless Medicare is so good that, given the chance, everyone would choose it over the private insurance that Mike Rounds sells. Ah, so that's what Mike is afraid of....
  3. Signing everyone up for Medicare (which I support) or even signing several million new policyholders up (which Weiland proposes) does not ruin Medicare for any South Dakota senior. Insurance 101, Mike: the surest way to strengthen a risk pool is to sign up more members, especially more members who pose less risk than the average member of your current pool. It's not as if Medicare only has $492 billion to spend on health benefits and new enrollees will be slicing that pie into smaller pices, forcing Grandma to wait for her new hip. Weiland's new enrollees would be younger working people, adding their premiums to Medicare's $576 billion in revenue and drawing less out in benefits than their older counterparts. Letting my family and millions like us buy into Medicare makes Medicare stronger for my parents.

Mike Rounds the insurance agent knows full well that Weiland's Medicare-as-public-option proposal would make Medicare stronger the same way that all of us coming into Fischer Rounds to buy our insurance would make his company stronger. But the last thing Mike Rounds the insurance agent wants is a stronger Medicare that cuts his personal profits. That's why, almost every time Mike Rounds opens his mouth about Medicare, he lies.

Related Reading:

38 comments

Fake Libertarian candidate for attorney general Chad Haber has chosen to exploit American Indian foster children as his primary campaign (fundraising) issue. Even American Indians aren't falling for Haber's latest scam. Chase Iron Eyes, attorney for the Lakota People's Law Project that worked to bring abuses in South Dakota's foster care system to light long before Chad Haber decided he could make money off the issue, says Haber's exploitation of the issue is as bad as any cover-up or corruption of which we might accuse Haber's opponent, Attorney General Marty Jackley:

The articles surrounding the issue recently have tended to focus on Chad Haber and his campaign to unseat Marty Jackley from the Attorney General’s office.

Lakota People’s Law Project believe Jackley and his officers were more interested in covering the tracks of the corrupt DSS than pursuing justice for disempowered and sexually abused children.

The heinousness of this crime cannot be overstated and the fact that it has received little to no press coverage inside or outside of South Dakota is disappointing to say the least.

However, it is equally dismaying to see this unconscionable instance being used as little more than a narrow window of political opportunism by opponents to Jackley who are angling for a high-powered state job.

The Mette case should not be about elections. If Haber is elected, will the illegal practices of the Department of Social Services suddenly cease? Forgive us for our cynicism, but it is doubtful [Chase Iron Eyes, "The Mette Case Is About the Children, Not Elections," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.08.28].

South Dakota's Lakota people have true allies in the ACLU, the U.S. Department of Justice, and other conscientious actors. They recognize that the attorney general campaign is a sideshow that will do nothing to advance the cause of their children and families.

27 comments

Rep. Kristi Noem has chickened out of debating Corinna Robinson this weekend, but she will still be lurking around the State Fair. At 2 p.m. today, she will accept a "Friend of the Prairie" award on the Freedom Stage from the South Dakota Grassland Coalition.

If you want to talk to Congresswoman Noem about what she's done to deserve such an award (cutting subsidies to farmers plowing virgin prairie, but reducing the CRP maximum CRP acreage from 32 million acres to 24 million acres and CRP funding from $400 million to $250 million?) or to ask her questions that she might have faced in a debate with Robinson, the Princess directs you to contact her staff.

Worth nothing is the fact that Team Noem sends out notice of her appearance at the State Fair one day before it happens. Sometimes it seems as if Rep. Noem just doesn't want attention. Rep. Noem visited Madison Tuesday, but it was another of those surprise, invitation-only, elites-only visits that doesn't make the paper until after it's done. Her staff appear to have posted notice of that event the day it happened, minimizing the opportunity for the press and other interested citizens to come see their Congresswoman.

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Mr. Powers perpetuates his obsession with picking on Angelia Schultz by rolling in the dead-fish rumors people feed him about the supposed withdrawal of Democrat Schultz from the race for Secretary of State. Team Schultz says hold the phone, she's on her way:

The American News contacted Schultz about the status of her campaign. In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Schultz' campaign strategist Bajun Mavalwalla said Schultz has been assembling a team and they're finalizing their strategy to find the best and most efficient way to get her message out across the state.

"As far as my candidate, she's not missing, and she's not pulling out," Mavalwalla said. "Right now, what Angelia recognizes is what we have in South Dakota is a core group of voters who need to know what she's all about. That's why we are making sure when we put everything out that the message is synchronized and right on time" [Elisa Sand, "Secretary of State Candidate Assembling Campaign Team," Aberdeen American News, 2014.08.27].

I'll admit, now is not the time to be assembling a campaign team. Now is the time to be dispatching the campaign team that you assembled back in June to go flood the State Fair with brightly T-shirted hand-shakers and jawboners to tell everyone that you rock, Krebs is Gant in heels, Stacey is crazy, and Emmett... well, he's just Emmett. You should also be answering the heck out of your phone and angling for every bit of free press coverage you can get.

But Schultz has Mavalwalla on the job, and his Nebula Group appears to be mobilizing in support of multiple Democratic candidates in South Dakota. Better late than never—now let's see some big push!

Related: In addition to his freshly announced work for District 12 House candidate Ellee Spawn, Mavalwalla's team has also signed on to blog favorite Robin Page's District 33 Senate campaign. No word yet on whether Page's new campaign consultants have moved her poll numbers, but they have finally launched a campaign website for Robin! Whoo-hoo!

8 comments

Darrell Solberg of Sioux Falls aptly summarizes the legacy of former Governor, now Senate candidate, Mike Rounds:

He... spearheaded the failed Northern Beef Packing plant in Aberdeen, which has cost people millions.

The implementation of EB-5... not only cost investors and taxpayers millions, it has lead to lawsuits, unanswered questions, a death and the distrust of people in state government.

Seven out of the eight years in office, his administration had a structural deficit (more expenses than revenue) and thus took money out of reserve funds to balance the budget.

....Lack of government openness and transparency led to questionable practices, pay to play, tax rebates for oil pipelines and no-bid contracts.

Increasing the number of state employees, many of whom were relatives or friends, increased the state’s expenses and dependency on federal dollars.

...[L]ack of attention and commitment to education funding has caused a severe teacher shortage in the state.

College tuitions are on an upward spiral; South Dakota college graduates have one of the highest educational debts upon graduation, forcing many to leave for better paying jobs.

...Use of state airplanes for the enjoyment of attending Pierre High School football games, with friends accompanying [Rounds] while his son played [Darrell Solberg, letter to the editor, that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.08.27].

I recall Rick Knobe interviewing Scott Heidepriem on KSOO a few years ago. Heidepriem compared Mike Rounds and Bill Janklow. A recovering Republican, Heidepriem said that he disagreed with plenty of Janklow's decisions, but he respected Janklow's big vision and his ability to translate that vision into action. Rounds, said Heidepriem, didn't seem to have any vision. Rounds came and went from the Capitol and didn't really change anything about South Dakota. The only real marks he left were red ink in the budget and higher numbers on the Hobbs meter.

Maybe the South Dakota Republican Party is done giving us Janklows. The party of No and Noem wants pretty smiles that say the right things but do nothing more than raise money and win elections. Mike Rounds's empty gubernatorial legacy shows he fits that mold perfectly.

Anticipated Related Reading: The University of South Dakota is digitizing the Janklow Papers. Janklow gave his papers to his alma mater on the condition that they make the documents available to the public online. The Janklow Papers should make for fascinating historical reading. Candidate Rounds, how about a sneak peak at the Rounds Papers, with a focus on your flight logs and Northern Beef Packers memos?

57 comments

Rep. Susan Wismer (D-1/Britton) makes a curious request this afternoon, asking Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) to allow the Democratic leadership to appoint a proxy to sit in for her at the September 24 meeting of the Government Operations and Audit Committee.

September 24 is the eagerly anticipated hearing at which the brilliant Sen. Tidemann has asked SDRC Inc. executive (and tax-evading banker?) Joop Bollen and U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson to enlighten GOAC about the Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal. Democratic legislators have asked Governor Dennis Daugaard, EB-5-initiating former governor Mike Rounds, and SDRC Inc. lawyer and GOP pal Jeffrey T. Sveen to join Bollen for the September 24 hearing.

Gubernatorial candidate Wismer apparently anticipates awkwardness in the possibility of her questioning her election opponent Governor Daugaard during the hearing:

We need to get the bottom of this, and in order to do that, key EB-5 decision-makers need to answer questions from committee members in person. The people of South Dakota deserve to know the truth about EB-5. If my campaign and membership on the committee creates a conflict, I’m more than willing to step aside during this meeting so South Dakotans can get answers without the meeting turning into political theater [Rep. Susan Wismer, press release, 2014.08.27].

Conflict? Political theater? Oh, Rep. Wismer, we're already there, whether you're in one of the big chairs September 24 or not.

Candidate or not, I wouldn't give up a GOAC seat for anything, not when I could have the chance to look Bollen, Rounds, Daugaard, and Sveen in the eyes and ask What did you know and when did you know it? The crucial meeting of GOAC's entire interim, the only one so far at which GOAC may have before it a prime player and witness to the EB-5 snafu, is no time for someone who has followed the issue, heard the testimony, and read the documents presented so far to step aside and be replaced by a legislator who may need to be brought up to speed.

But if Rep. Wismer's concerns are valid, if we mustn't chance an ugly or spinnable confrontation between two candidates for governor, then let's get someone who's followed EB-5, someone who has been a bulldog on the issue, someone who has some investigative and prosecutorial experience who could bring some cross-examinatory heat to Joop Bollen and whoever else testifies on September 24.

As Rep. Wismer's proxy, let's appoint Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton).

He's not on any ballot this fall. He proposed legislation calling for stiffer action to prevent further EB-5 mischief. He railed against EB-5 and lost tax dollars during the primary season. His experience as an NCIS investigator trained him in asking suspects the right questions.

And to top off his qualifications, Rep. Nelson is a Republican. If we're really worried that Rep. Wismer's presence at GOAC on September 24 would undermine the search for truth with accusations of partisan machinations, what more magnanimous gesture could Rep. Wismer and the Democratic leadership make than to appoint a Republican in her place?

Rep. Wismer, I think you should keep your seat. But if you think stepping aside is best... well, Rep. Nelson, polish your shoes and prep your questions!

54 comments

The truest statement of the day comes from Sen. Tim Rave (R-25/Baltic), discussing calls from his colleagues Rep. Bernie Hunhoff (D-18/Yankton) and Sen. Larry Lucas (D-26/Pickstown) to bring Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard, Joop Bollen, and Jeff Sveen in for questioning in their investigation of the EB-5 scandal:

Investigating... it's not really in our skill set or our wheelhouse....

[Sen. Time Rave, quoted in Charles Michael Ray, "Dems Push for EB-5 Inquiry," SDPB Radio, 2014.08.27]

You know, Senator Rave, kids come to my classroom all the time and say, "I'm not good at French (algebra, speech, taking tests...)." I say to them the same thing I say to you: "There's no better time to get good at it."

32 comments

An Exclusive Madville Times Interview

Somewhere in my piles of stuff is a photo of Senator Larry Pressler with me and a nice girl from Vermillion, Angeline Wilson, at the U.S. Capitol on a muggy June day 25 years ago.

Larry Pressler, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2014.08.23

Larry Pressler, Independent candidate for U.S. Senate, proudly displays a photo of his grandkids.

On this muggy Saturday in Sioux Falls, as candidate Pressler and I discussed policy and politics at his Sioux Falls office, I mentioned that brief meeting, one of thousands the Senator politely hosted during his time in Washington. Pressler said recollections like that are one of the small joys of his campaign. As he tours the state, people come up to shake his hand and say they're glad he's running again (though Pressler himself muses that maybe those folks are just being kind to an old man). And often they'll show him a picture from back in the day of Mom, Dad, and the kids (now with grandkids) with Pressler in D.C. or the State Fair or some such remarkable moment in their families' lives.

Ah, nostalgia. It's like Styx coming back and riffing out "Mr. Roboto" on the casino circuit. But will we elect Dennis DeYoung to the Senate?

You wouldn't think so, when Pressler has maybe a hundredth of the money of his main-party opponents. Pressler admits that, as a rule, "Money is determinative" of electoral success. "We"—and he looks around the office at his wife Harriet, his one paid staffer, and a friend-volunteer—"will be the exception."

Pressler's run at age 72, 16 years after losing his seat to the now retiring Tim Johnson, is not a return from retirement. Pressler has been teaching and serving on boards ever since leaving the Senate. He says he will always work. But he'd like to give South Dakota six more years of his work.

Pressler's Legacy: The Telecommunications Act

Pressler runs on the record of what he achieved for South Dakota. He refers to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as his "magnum opus," a project that consumed his efforts for ten years. That law created the Universal Service Fund, a tax that he had to rename a fee to get past the Gingrich Congress (sound familiar?). Pressler notes that Tim Johnson was one of only 16 votes against that fee and the final form of the bill in the House. Johnson may have had his reasons, but Pressler says the Universal Service Fund subsidized installation of fiber-optic cable across the country.

Larry Pressler, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2014.08.23

Maybe Al Gore invented the Internet, but Larry Pressler brought it to Pukwana. Candidate Pressler discusses the importance of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Basically, says Pressler, the USF allowed us to have Internet and cell phone service almost everywhere in South Dakota, not just Sioux Falls and Rapid City. The Telecommunications Act made long-distance calls an ancient artifact, made phone calls cheaper than they were in the 1950s, and stimulated the economy by bringing almost everyone, including rural folks, access to the newest communications technologies.

Pressler says he wanted the Telecommunications Act to include cable TV regulations that would have given customers à la carte channel selection, pricing controls, and a 15% cap on ad time. But Pressler says that after attending a cable industry convention in Las Vegas, President Bill Clinton sent VP Al Gore to the Senate to kill those regulations.

Pressler would like the chance to revisit those regulations and restore the public service requirements for broadcasters. However, Pressler would place more priority on enforcing existing anti-trust laws to keep media companies from consolidating and monopolizing. Calling himself a "Teddy Roosevelt trust-busting conservative," Pressler says Time-Warner and Comcast are too big and that we need more competition in the media. He says the big media companies got a break by getting Congress to move anti-trust enforcement on their industry from the Department of Justice, which knows anti-trust law, to the Federal Communications Commission, which finds anti-trust law somewhat out of its ken.

Deficit and Taxes

Larry Pressler will raise your taxes. He said at Dakotafest that he would cut corporate, personal, and charitable tax deductions. In our interview, he said he would vote to increase the gasoline tax to replenish the Highway Trust Fund. He says Congress's temporary fix is irresponsible, since it adds to the deficit. Pressler sees great danger in the deficit and says we must get serious about fixing it.

Military and Foreign Policy

Pressler is the only candidate for South Dakota's open Senate seat who served in the military (U.S. Army, Vietnam, two tours, 1966–1968). The veteran is not eager to give today's young men and women the same experience. When it comes to foreign military intervention, Pressler labels himself a "Ron Paul Libertarian": he would send troops overseas only to secure "substantial American foreign policy interests."

I asked if that standard justifies intervention in the Islamic State's slaughter of the polytheist Yazidis in Iraq. Pressler said it may, depending on information that the President may have, but where there is doubt, he would err on the side of non-intervention.

Pressler worries that President Obama has erred in the other direction with his use of force in Iraq this month. He notes that he voted for Obama in 2008 for conservative reasons, expecting Obama to entangle us in fewer wars than John McCain. Pressler says McCain would have maintained permanent U.S. military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan and sent troops to Syria.

Pressler regularly cites the example of a U.S. fort that he and his wife visiting in northern Italy. Far from repelling the Slovenian menace, that base serves mostly to stimulate the local economy. If the military must be a jobs program, Pressler would prefer to bring those jobs home and boost the economy here. But "the whole economy has been taken over by the military-industrial state," says Pressler, and he would like to restore our military focus to military objectives, not big money.

Defining Independence

Pressler holds out his own Senate candidacy as a jobs program for young pols across South Dakota. He vows to serve just one more term, meaning that a whole crop of aspiring candidates will be able to rev their campaign engines in 2020. I ask if there's any chance he could be re-seduced by the power and celebrity of D.C. life. Pressler says absolutely not: he's been there, done that, and won't get stuck. One term—Pressler means it.

Larry Pressler with Joe Lowe photo of Mount Rushmore. Pressler campaign office, SIoux Falls, SD, 2014.08.23

Hanging on Pressler's office wall is this panoramic photo of Mount Rushmore, a unique view showing the most-photographed faces in the world small in the breaking dawn, in the context of the entire geological formation. The photographer? Rapid City artist Joe Lowe, a Democrat who ran for governor last spring.

That one-term promise is crucial to his expectation of what he regularly refers to as "the glorious freedom of independence." He says Senators and Congresspeople of both parties have to spend more than half of their time in Washington raising money. They aren't just filling their coffers for their own reëlections; the party leaders set quotas on contributions to colleagues' campaigns as conditions for plum committee appointments.

Pressler says nuts to that. While John Thune runs across the street each day to beg for money, Pressler says he will be working full-time for South Dakota. Even if he did reach for cash, Pressler knows he'd come up short, since the special interest groups don't stand to gain from candidates who free themselves of partisan and reëlection pressures. Ah, independence!

Blogospheric Curiosity

Say, remember that Internet that Pressler's Telecommunications Act helped bring to everybody? (Harriet jokes that she thought Larry, not Al Gore, invented the Internet.) Candidate Pressler shows a marked curiosity about the Web he hath wrought. He spent a few minutes at the beginning of our interview grilling me about the South Dakota blogosphere and the journalistic quality of its various nodes, including my own. I wouldn't say Pressler is taking his cues from the blogs, but he is paying attention to them.

Pressler's curiosity about our homegrown use of the Internet stands in marked contrast to his opponent Mike Rounds, the former governor who leaves all that Web stuff to his lackeys. Rounds's techno-aloofness makes him a little less qualified to legislate amidst the ongoing technological revolution than the ever-curious Pressler, who gave that revolution an early boost.

8 comments

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