South Dakota campaign finance reform group sees low turnout

September 13, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers say low turnout at task force meetings on campaign finance reform may be a sign of dwindling support for changes in the law.

Two meetings the Government Accountability Task Force held in Sioux Falls and Rapid City this week were poorly attended, the Argus Leader reported .

The sparse attendance comes after legislators began repealing a campaign reform measure in January, prompting protests at the state Capitol. The reform campaign’s website says Initiated Measure 22 was created with the intention to prevent political bribery, improve transparency and increase ethics enforcement.

Sen. Jordan Youngberg, R-Madison, chairs the task force created to revisit the repealed issues. He says low turnout could signal declining support for the changes.

“You had a lot of people that were angry and upset to the point that I got a threat they were going to burn my house down over the repeal of this,” Youngberg said of the earlier protests. “Where is that passion now to come and talk this through and move forward as a state?”

Supporters of the campaign finance changes said the turnout is a result of poor timing for the meetings and the strong message lawmakers sent to voters by striking the law.

“I would suspect there’s a fair amount of frustration from voters that said, ‘We did speak and it doesn’t matter if we show up or not because the Legislature is going to repeal what we pass,’” said Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke. “I don’t know that all of this would have been necessary if we would have just implemented what the voters wanted.”

The task force will hold a final meeting next month before compiling its final recommendations to the Legislature.

Some leaders have begun circulating proposals similar to the 2016 ballot measure, aiming to amend the state’s campaign finance laws. If passed, the proposal would amend the state’s constitution and exempt it from legislative repeal.


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com