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Anonymous Anti-Boke Ad Legal But Cowardly

I've given Spearfish mayoral candidate Dana Boke heck for not naming names (or any other specifics that would justify her contention that she could run Spearfish better than the oligarchy she sees in charge). I must thus criticize some supporters of Mayor Jerry Krambeck for not naming names.... specifically, their own names:

Anti-Dana Boke campaign ad, Black Hills Pioneer, 2013.04.08, p. 7
campaign ad, Black Hills Pioneer, 2013.04.08, p. 7

The above ad ran in last night's Black Hills Pioneer. Lifting lines directly from Mayor Krambeck's opening statement at the March 27 public forum, the ad criticizes Boke for never previously voting in a Spearfish city election, a technically true but tricky charge, since Boke just moved into the city limits two years ago. It criticizes Boke for not attending any city council or committee meetings. It then praises Mayor Krambeck for Courage, Commitment, and Proven Success and urges his re-election.

Of course, these Krambeck advocates lack the courage and commitment to put their names to their advocacy. The Black Hills Pioneer lets them publish this ad under the classic vague moniker "Concerned Citizens."

State law also permits this evasion. State campaign finance law requires that anyone advocating for or against a candidate must "(a) identif[y] the person or organization making the independent expenditure for that communication, (b) state[] the address or website address of the person or organization, and (c) state[] that the communication is independently funded and not made in consultation with any candidate, party, or political committee" [SDCL 12-27-6]. This year's Senate Bill 200, a response from Republican leaders who felt terrorized by anonymous robocallers last summer, tightens those requirements.

But South Dakota's campaign finance reform act of 2007 (that year's House Bill 1048) included a section that became SDCL 12-27-39, which exempts elections for municipal offices from our campaign finance rules. You want to circulate anonymous fliers calling Dana Boke a deathly boring mid-level manager who will lose all of Spearfish's economic development leads to a more aggressive Mayor Apa in Lead? Go right ahead. You want to make robocalls deeming Mike Huether a knuckleheaded usurer who can't take a joke? Have at it. You want to rent a plane and fly a banner over Rapid City telling people to vote for anyone but theocrat-mayor Sam Kooiker? Knock yourself out. You don't have to report your activities, your name, or your financial backers to anyone.

But you should. We need to know that the ad is not mere sockpuppetry by the candidate. Oligarchy or not, citizens have a right to know who is spending money to influence their vote. On a personal level, if you're going to attack a person by name, it's only fair that you place your name before the public for similar scrutiny. You presume to use my name, you should permit me to use yours.

If there is a Spearfish oligarchy, what are the "concerned citizens" afraid of? The oligarchs don't punish those who defend the oligarchy.

Dana Boke is a rotten candidate, and I'm not afraid to say so. The "concerned citizens" are running a rotten attack ad, and they are afraid to take responsibility for it. Their cowardly attacks, given an extra week by snow until the postponed election, may sink in and have the opposite effect. Boke and Krambeck both should hope the Black Hills Pioneer will reject future anonymous ads the way it rightly rejects anonymous letters.


  1. grudznick 2013.04.09

    I sure hope that somebody part of or paid by the OOS (Oligarchy of Spearfish) isn't behind that sort of ad. I'm beginning to like this Krambeck fellow.

  2. Michael Black 2013.04.09

    SO what is the difference between identifying yourself in an ad vs a political blog?

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.04.10

    Legally, in elections where South Dakota's campaign finance laws apply, SDCL 12-27-16 appears to exempt commentary writings on political blogs. Morally, I see them as equivalent. One should own one's words.

  4. John 2013.04.11

    King George III, his Tory Parliament, Tory Governors, and Tory Sheriffs would agree with you, as undoubtedly would their French equivalents.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.04.11

    Neither Jerry Krambeck nor Dana Boke is George Washington.

  6. Desarae Biggins 2013.04.12

    Although I had nothing to do with the ad, I agree that the information needed to be known. I would have added my name and support to the message in a heartbeat. The subject of anonymity aside, voting is a very important right to me. It's disconcerting to me that someone who has never voted in a Spearfish election or attended any city meetings would have the audacity to throw out terms such as oligarchy. I am starting to think that Mrs. Boke was pressured into this campaign. After the candidates forum, it's easy to express my agreement. Although she may very well be a lovely person, Dana Boke is a rotten candidate for mayor.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.04.12

    Desarae, I have no problem with publication of that info, either. Your points are reasonable, and I welcome them. But there is no reason that a citizen should be afraid to put his/her name to such statements. Since we don't know who the anonymous attacker is, such anonymous attacks end up reflecting poorly on the candidate in whose favor they speak.

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