Secretary of State Jason Gant doesn't know if the coordinated attack on the GOP leadership of the South Dakota Legislature violates campaign finance law. Neither the robocall, the postcard, or the e-mail calling Reps. Lust, Cronin, and Gosch and Senator Olson niggardly anti-military ingrates clearly identifies who paid for the messages. Political communications are generally supposed to include that information. Does that anonymity make these calls and cards illegal?
Secretary Gant's inability to answer this question shows his unfitness for office. His predecessor Chris Nelson could have answered this question in thirty seconds or less. I can answer it before I get my raisin bran: no.
SDCL 12-27-17 governs political communications like yesterday's cards and calls, which technically, explicitly, do not advocate anyone's election or defeat. SDCL 12-27-17 says, in relevant part:
Any political committee or political party that makes a payment or promise of payment totaling one thousand dollars or more for a communication that clearly identifies a candidate or public office holder, but does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of the candidate or public office holder, and that is disseminated, broadcast, or otherwise published within sixty days of an election, shall file a statement with the secretary of state disclosing the name, street address, city, and state of such political committee or political party. The statement shall also include the name of the candidate or public office holder mentioned in the communication, the amount spent on the communication, and a description of the content of the communication. The statement shall be received and filed within forty-eight hours of the time that the communication is disseminated, broadcast, or otherwise published.
Sixty days from the general election is September 7. "Vires et Honestas PAC" ("Strength and Honor" in Latin... and who else around here ends darn near every communication with a Latin exhortation?) and ReaganRepublicSD and Grandpa can keep throwing tomatoes all month. Gordon Howie and Ed Randazzo and Stace Nelson can stroll around the State Fair handing out all the flyers on this theme they want without saying who paid for them.
Strong and honorable men don't need to keep their names off their political statements. But South Dakota law doesn't say they can't, at least not more than sixty days before the election.
There, Jason, I've saved you some work. Now how about getting back to me on my question about the Madison Community Foundation?