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Rosenthal Raps Republicans for Giving ALEC Taxpayer Dollars

Former South Dakota Republican Party exec Joel Rosenthal joins other prominent Republicans and a whole bunch of angry South Dakotans in saying that the new Republican-backed policy of giving taxpayer dollars to the partisan, conservative American Legislative Exchange Council is a bad idea:

I like conservative groups and think they can impact the process. I just don’t think it is very conservative that the government augments their efforts with public money.

...Now the GOP majority has extended travel and paying memberships to Legislative Associations. In the case of ALEC, they may have handed the Democrats a political issue. More importantly while they find they may have pulled a fast one on the South Dakota taxpayer (over a $50 annual membership) I question why would those that believe and espouse smaller government want to have the State pay for their non government partisan activity?

ALEC may provide important conservative ideas, some of which I support but the State of South Dakota should not pay [Joel Rosenthal, "Get Real," South Dakota Straight Talk, 2013.05.29].

Dang: more folks who put principle over crass self-interest like Joel Rosenthal might have kept me in the SDGOP... unlike mealy-mouthed corporate welfarists like Mike Rounds, who drove me out.

Rosenthal proposes reasonable alternatives, like giving legislators a partial travel stipend to spend as they see fit, requiring such conference costs to come from documentable campaign funds, or using online technology instead of travel.

Getting their prefab pro-corporate legislation from national groups is bad enough; asking South Dakotans to pay their way to these cushy conferences is beyond the pale. Folks on both sides of the aisle recognize that our Republican legislators are misusing our money for their selfish purposes; we can only hope they will listen to the wise advice of Mr. Rosenthal and put that money back in the public cookie jar.


  1. Owen Reitzel 2013.05.30

    Good for Joel. I'd like to the the far right of the Republican Party be more vocal on this. I've heard a few say its not right when this first came out but nothing since-unless I missed it.

  2. Stace Nelson 2013.05.30

    @Owen How about a mainstream traditional Conservative Republican? I have tweeted and posted that I do NOT support using SD taxpayer dollars to pay for any of these memberships (CSG, NCSL, ALEC). I would be happy to carry or co-sponsor legislation to cut such funding and have a request for research info to the LRC on that very subject.

    Now, where is the equal outrage over the already existing membership payments to CSG & NCSL?

  3. Kal LIs 2013.05.30

    NCSL's funding comes from memberships and public grants. If one wants to argue that NCSL has a philosophical point of view because it relies on public funding, I'd be willing to look at the evidence.

    ALEC takes private money. In short, asking taxpayers to pay for ALEC memberships is asking taxpayers to help fund lobbyists who might advance causes that individual taxpayers may oppose. That's a major distinction.

    Quite frankly, I'm fine with Rosenthal's proposal and having legislators pay memberships on their won

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.05.30

    Rosenthal says NCSL is biased and shouldn't get tax dollars, either. His proposal seems viewpoint-neutral and more conservative than Russ Olson's and Dan Lederman's.

    Rep. Nelson, you have my Tweet bill: "Legislators shall receive no state reimbursement or subsidy for trips outside South Dakota." One sentence, problem solved!

  5. Owen Reitzel 2013.05.30

    I agree Stace. but the mainstream Republican are for this and they shouldn't be.
    I know your against it and that's good.
    From what I've heard the CSG & NCSL aren't into the policy making like ALEC is. I think Bernie Hunhoff talked about this on TV. These 2 groups haven't been as controversial. If they are and they're liberal then legislators shouldn't be paid.
    I think a better comparison is if legislatures would get paid for being a member of the ACLU. I know you'd never settle for that.

  6. Stace Nelson 2013.05.30

    @Owen Pierre politician Republicans and SD mainstream Republicans are two different things. SD mainstream Republicans are not for this. I am talking about the mainstream Republicans that passed my platform plank on illegal immigration, and opposed removing the SDGOP position that SD Republicans are supposed to work to REDUCE taxes at all levels. Those Pierre politicians often forget this very same thing in thinking that the tail should wag the dog. Occasionally, that dog wakes up and bites off the offending tail. :-D

  7. Owen Reitzel 2013.05.30

    I think everybody are for lower taxes Stace. I think the questions are if we reduce taxes what gets cut?
    And not paying legislators to go to ALEC and pay their dues is one small way to keep taxes down. We're in agreement on that.

  8. Winston 2013.05.30

    I wonder if those within the GOP who defend the connection between ALEC and some of our State legislators would also agree that our Federal legislators, like Thune or Noem, should attend conferences at an international level about how to be a better and more informed Federal legislator?... You know, maybe a conference headed up by the UN or one of its Agencies or even Mr. Soros himself.... Probably not.....

  9. Stace Nelson 2013.05.30

    @Owen The legislature blew through a $50 Million surplus and added on roughly $100 Million worth of new spending, new programs, that compete with education, road repair, etc.. They also raised at least 3 taxes that I am aware of. They are happily following along in Congress' footsteps with Republicans voting with "Minority" leader Bernie Hunhoff on all these untraditional Republican grow government & increase spending measures. When Democrats grow government it is bad, but if politicians who is claim an (R) behind their name do it, then somehow it is magically "fiscally conservative" despite the fact that it is not..

  10. Owen Reitzel 2013.05.30

    which new programs Stace and what taxes were raised?

  11. Roger Elgersma 2013.05.30

    If the taxpayer pays for Democrat legislators to be members of ALEC, then they can claim that it is a bipartisan organization since there are Democrat members, even if none of them show up. Sneaky.

  12. John 2013.05.31

    While we're talking about taxes and spending - who blew the $10 million dollar cost estimate on the state Vet's center to be built in Hot Springs? That's a huge error. Someone must be accountable. Someones boss must be accountable. One or more should lose a job over it. Some should lose authority over those work tasks for someone showed a doubtful competency. This error is costing SD $10 million plus the administrative costs of a special session, and the other administrivia to fix the error.

  13. Douglas Wiken 2013.05.31

    The internet should have eliminated travel boondoggles for legislators. It might be good if some of them also had enough brains and originality to put together useful legislation that wasn't aimed at subsidizing testing contractors, prison builders, road contractors, etc.

  14. Stace Nelson 2013.05.31

    @Owen Go here and type in "appropriations" and it will give you a listing of the spending bills and some of the tax bills (tax increases off top of head were SB28, HB1066, type in "fee" at that page and it will show more). We tried to get an accurate number of the programs towards the end of session, it was hard to do since they didn't bring them as bills but illegally tucked them away into the general appropriations/adjustment bills. Last official estimate was "dozens"

    Of special note to your know concerns, the SB28 tax increase was "for education" even though the legislature started with a supposed $50 Million surplus which should have precluded the need for any tax increases..

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