Last week the South Dakota Democratic Party sent a postcard to District 16 voters urging them to replace Senator Dan Lederman with challenger Mike O'Connor. The postcard, sounding distinctly like the anti-GOP-big-dog postcards and robocalls launched earlier this year, says "Dan Lederman voted to cut funding for our veteran service officers." The postcard cites House Bill 1106 from the 2012 session.
Alas, Dem boss Ben Nesselhuf needs some proofreaders. As Lederman Web-flunky Pat Powers rightly points out, this year's HB 1106 was a bill to restore funding for veterans' service officers. House Republicans killed this bill, denying Senator Lederman the opportunity to vote on it. Oops.
Senator Lederman was so torqued that he rushed out and bought himself a new domain, SoDakDemsLie.com, to vent his rage. On that website, Senator Lederman posted an open letter demanding that Chairman Nesselhuf send a new postcard to correct his error. Sen. Lederman also demanded that Nesselhuf call a press conference to apologize for his "false and malicious materials" and for using veterans and veterans service officers as political pawns.
In my inbox lands Chairman Nesselhuf's apology. The Dems' exec says he made an honest mistake: he cited the wrong bill. He meant to cite HB 1251 from the 2011 session, Governor Daugaard's draconian first-year budget. That bill cut funding for veterans' services and benefits by $185,020, a 12.7% cut from 2010. Senator Lederman voted for that cut. 2012's HB 1106 would have restored $167,000 to that budget line. The 2012 budget bill put back $70,391 of the 2011 cut, leaving veterans' services and benefits 7.9% below 2010 funding levels. Senator Lederman voted for that partial put-back.
Chairman Nesselhuf responds to Senator Lederman's demands for corrective action thus:
I wholeheartedly agree that the voters of District 16 deserve the truth of your voting record. You have requested that I take specific corrective action. Namely:
I send out a postcard stating that you never voted to cut veterans service officers. I will not do this because it would be untrue and would further propagate false information.
I conduct a press conference to apologize for sending out misleading postcards. I would be happy to hold a press conference, at the time and location of your choosing, explaining that I cited the House vote in the postcard and provide information to the press as to the bill that you did vote for and the cuts you made to the veteran service officers.
I apologize to all veteran service officers. I am willing, at that same press conference, to apologize for citing the wrong bill. Perhaps you could join me and apologize for making the cuts to begin with [Ben Nesselhuf, letter to Dan Lederman, October 28, 2012].
- The South Dakota Democratic Party said Senator Dan Lederman voted to cut funding for veterans' service officers. This statement is true.
- The SDDP implied Senator Lederman voted for 2012 HB 1106. This statement is false.
- Senator Lederman said in his letter to SDDP exec Ben Nesselhuf that he "never voted to cut veteran service officers." This statement is technically true: the budget cuts that Senator Lederman voted for may not have directly eliminated any jobs. But he and nearly every other legislator voted to cut travel reimbursements for those officers.
- Senator Lederman says South Dakota Dems lie! That statement, in this case, is false. Someone in the state Dems' office screwed up. Ben failed to catch it. All parties at Dems HQ deserve 40 public lashes with a wet noodle (maybe Ben can host a fundraising spaghetti feed in conjunction with the press conference). But I'm not seeing a lie here.