One of the talking points Democratic nominee Susan Wismer needs to adopt from her vanquished primary opponent Joe Lowe is his talk of the "culture of corruption" fostered by the Rounds-Daugaard administration. Why?
- It's true!
- Fighting a "Culture of Corruption" will synergize with the "Take It Back!" populist message of Sue's new best buddy on the prairie, Rick Weiland.
- South Dakota's higher-than-normal corruption has policy impacts, like an over-emphasis on economic development based on bribe-prone corporate handouts and less funding for education and health care:
...Economic development projects are ripe for corruption, the study published this spring in the Public Administration Review, found.
Using data from the Department of Justice that encompassed more than 25,000 public corruption-related convictions nationwide between 1976 and 2008 of elected officials, judges and local employees, the study concluded that higher instances of corruption correlate with more spending in certain areas. Among the most corrupt states were Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, South Dakota and Alaska.
The study found that high levels of corruption in a state can shape its budget allocation. More corrupt states tended to spend money on construction, highways, and police protection programs, which provide more opportunity for corrupt officials to use public money for their own gain. These states spend less on health, education, and welfare, which provide less opportunity for officials to collect bribes... [Liz Farmer and Kevin Tidmarsh, "What Corrupt States Spend Their Money On," Governing, 2014.06.06].
Wismer can also point out that the culture of corruption ends up hamstringing the economic development that Daugaard and pals say they are promoting:
The shakedown culture can also be a deterrent to economic development, with developers who are attempting to play fair getting disenchanted by pay-to-play politics, he added. After all, there's little incentive to spend time and money on a bid when the winning bidder has already bought political favor [Farmer and Tidmarsh, 2014.06.06].
Corruption could even have something to do with lower voter turnout:
Public confidence in government is also a hidden – and immeasurable – cost of corruption, added Sergio Acosta, a corporate attorney who was the former federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Illinois [Farmer and Tidmarsh, 2014.06.06].
The culture of corruption that Joe Lowe identifies hinders public welfare, economic development, and civic life in South Dakota. Sue, that's your message, in one sentence. Get on it!