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South Dakota Democrats pay fine to settle financial probe

August 19, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Democratic Party will pay a $7,200 penalty to the Federal Election Commission to settle a probe into its bookkeeping.

The FEC found this month the party engaged in “excessive, prohibited and other impermissible contributions or transfers, mathematical discrepancies” and a series of other violations during the 2017-2018 election cycle, the Argus Leader reported. A federal audit also found the party under-reported disbursements to the Democratic National Committee by $2.5 million during the 2015-16 election cycle.

The infractions resulted in a shake-up of leadership after they were discovered in 2019. The party has struggled to gain political power in the state. Republicans hold all statewide offices, and Democrats in the Legislature have reached their lowest number in 60 years.

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“We’ve hired a new compliance lawyer and we have a whole new compliance process, so really everything has changed with how we do things at the South Dakota Democratic Party,” said Berk Ehrmantraut, the party’s executive director. “We’re in a lot better spot when this infraction occurred several years ago.”

The party will be required to pay the fine by the end of the month, as well as receive certification in FEC compliance standards by next year.