KELO shows a little blog-style moxy by discussing our legislators' hypocrisy on "food for votes." Ever since the Democrat-organized rallies on the Indian reservations last fall where the Herseth Sandlin campaign respected Lakota tradition by serving food, then helped folks get to the polls for early voting, Republicans have been huffing and puffing about the great danger to democracy of feeding Indians.
So KELO sends Ben Dunsmoor to the Pierre buffet lines, where our legislators can apparently eat for free morning, noon, and night. (Free food?! Holy cow, where's my nominating petition for 2012?!) Dunsmoor finds Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) struggling not to pork out at the South Dakota Municipal League's free rib feed, since he's waiting to eat at the third big supper he's been invited to. We find Representative Gene Abdallah (R-10/Sioux Falls) assuring us that this free food doesn't influence anyone, since so many groups offer these inducem—er, refreshments. We get Senator Bob Gray (R-24, Pierre), prime sponsor of anti-food-for-votes Senate Bill 88, telling us "legislators swear an oath that they will not accept anything of value for a vote," so no legislator he knows "is beholden to any lobbyist or any interest group."
The message from our legislators: Passing a bowl of chili to an Indian or any other common, venal citizen is rank bribery. Laying out full free meals for our morally flawless legislators isn't influence; in the words of Senator Tidemann, it's simply a friendly "chance to talk to us, a chance to tell us their story."
Update 16:50 CST: Mr. Ehrisman also smells something other than roast beef in our legislators' responses on this issue.