Sunday, November 19, 2006

Here Is An Idea, Enforce The Law

There has been a lot of debate lately about the weak campaign finance laws here in South Dakota especially in the wake of Roger Hunt's anonymous $750,000 donor through his shell corporation to the "Yes on 6" campaign.

Hunt at first failed to file a finance report saying he wasn't required to and then when Secretary of State Chris Nelson disagreed, Hunt filed it but refused to identify the sole donor. It is now almost 2 weeks later and as of yet there has been no steps taken to resolve this.

If you thought that this was just an isolated incident you would be wrong. This morning's Argus details numerous candidates that either filed their finance reports late or in a few cases, never filed at all.
The deadline for filing campaign finance reports for legislative candidates in contested June primaries was 5 p.m. on July 3. Secretary of State Chris Nelson says these candidates missed that deadline. After their names is the date they filed.

Sen. Gene Abdallah, R- Sioux Falls 7-6
Sen. Julie Bartling, D- Burke 7-20
Sen. J.P. Duniphan, R- Rapid City 7-18
Rep. Burt Elliott, D- Aberdeen 7-28
Steve Emery, McLaughlin, Democrat 8-2
Robert Gleich, Utica, Democrat 7-12
Richard Gourley, Sioux Falls, Republican, 7-13
John Graham, Mansfield, Democrat 7-19
Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark 7-5
Dale Gunderson, Rapid City, Republican 7-10
Rep. Jeff Haverly, R-Rapid City 7-5
Richard Henkle, Edgemont, Democrat 8-2
Paul Joseph, Wood, Democrat 7-28
Diane Kastner, Kennebec, Democrat 7-11
Rep. Ted Klaudt, R-Walker 7-7
Maurice LaRue, Sturgis, Republican 7-12
Gary Loudner, Black Hawk, Democrat 7-18
Leah Lutheran, Rapid City, Democrat 8-1
Sen. Garry Moore, D-Yankton, 8-7
Sen. Bill Napoli, R- Rapid City, 7-5
Paul Nielson, Sioux Falls, Democrat 7-24
Mahylen Niles, Chamberlain, Democrat 7-5
Kristi Noem, Castlewood, Republican 7-7
David Reis, Oacoma Democrat 7-20
John Simpson, Hamill, Democrat 7-10
Duane Spader, Sioux Falls, Democrat 7-24
Faith Spotted Eagle, Lake Andes, Democrat 9-8
Theresa Spry, Rapid City, Democrat 7-12
Sherman Wright, Mission, Democrat 8-21
Jessica Nathanson, Sioux Falls Democrat 7-31
Craig Steensland, Sioux Falls Democrat 7-10
Paula Long Fox, Rapid City, Democrat Not filed yet
Source: S.D. Secretary of State
Also mentioned was State Senator Garry Moore whom this past summer ran and eventually won his bid for the State House. Moore intentionally failed to file his finance report just to see what would happen.
"I wanted to see what would happen,'' Moore said. "They never enforce that filing law. There are people from two years ago who haven't filed yet. I did it on purpose.''
Many do believe that the laws we have in place are weak and most also think that the public needs to have access to these reports in order to know where the money is coming from. This includes Nelson.
"My observation is that there have been a large number of candidates who don't take the deadline very seriously,'' Nelson said. He said Moore told him about deliberately withholding his report.

"In order for the public to know where campaign finances are coming from, those deadlines need to be met,'' Nelson said.
So it seems everyone is in agreement, we need this information. Considering this is the case, even though the misdemeanor charge that accompanies failing to file is just a slap on the wrist, why aren't any of the numerous candidates that have broken the law been facing theses penalties?

The laws are weak and they need to be strengthened but why have a law on the books in the first place if no one is willing to enforce it?

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