Billie Sutton for Gov Campaign Finance Report. 200k from PACs, 135k from Candidate Committees, claiming 42k in goods and services.

Democrat Candidate for Governor Billie Sutton sent out a presser this AM trying to get ahead of his campaign finance report, and bragged up that he had raised $87k over the course of the last year.

Well, if you’re using “Billie math,” sure, you could say that. But his campaign finance report shows a truer picture:

Billie Sutton 2017 Campaign Finance Disclosure Report by Pat Powers on Scribd

Of this 871k he’s claiming, 42k of it is “goods and services,” where he itemizes every raffle donation. $135,000 of it comes from direct transfers from other candidate committees, including 100k from Tim Johnson. $7k are from county dem party groups. There’s $200k from Political Action Committees, $18k from businesses and corporations, $20k from Union groups, etcetera and so on.

The more important numbers are that he raised $383,000 from individuals on an itemized basis (over $75k of that came directly from family), and $55k on an unitemized basis. It’s ok, but far less impressive than the $871k total that the campaign is touting.

But, don’t take my word for it. Read the report yourself.

Three of every four dollars spent on Open Primary measure coming from out of state group

The Open Primaries group, which hopes to keep those pesky independent and third party candidates from cluttering the fall ballot (by eliminating them in the summer) has filed their year end campaign finance report.

And it certainly shows that once again, this is not a local effort:

Open Primaries 2017 Year End Campaign Finance Report by Pat Powers on Scribd

Locally, the group raised $45,000, with over half of that (28K) coming from sponsor and rich guy Joe Kirby. But the lion’s share came from out-of-state group Open Primaries, Inc, who put in $155,000 towards the ballot.

So, 22% of what they raised came locally, and 78% from one single group, out of state.

SD Gun Owners putting nearly 10k into Russell for AG campaign

As the state campaign finance reports are coming in, there were some interesting campaign finance transfers involving South Dakota Gun Owners, and the “Liberty PAC” that resides at the same address and has the same officers.

First, Liberty PAC reported a large donation from the SD Gun Owners (not to be confused with the SD Gun Owners PAC, a separate entity):

And as that 10k of SDGO money came into Liberty PAC, $9800 went out to the SD Gun Owner’s PAC…

What happened to that $9800? According to the SDGO PAC Filing it came into the PAC:

And from there, the SDGO PAC went all in for Lance Russell for Attorney General:

It’s noteworthy, as I believe this marks the first time the SDGO group has gone in so significantly for an Attorney General candidate. That being said, Jordan Mason, who has been involved with the SDGO as recently as this last legislative session, IS consulting on the Russell campaign, which may have much to do with it.

Stay tuned…

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Working Toward a Farm Bill That’s Done Right and On Time

Working Toward a Farm Bill That’s Done Right and On Time
By Sen. John Thune

For folks who haven’t been following my “Thune Farm Bill” effort in the Senate, thanks to the help of stakeholder groups and individual farmers and ranchers throughout South Dakota, we made significant progress last year as we laid important groundwork for the 2018 farm bill. The current farm bill expires this fall, and one of my top priorities for 2018 is ensuring the next farm bill is done right and on time.

Last March, I announced that I’d be introducing multiple individual farm bill proposals that cover most sections of the overall bill. My goal was simple. I wanted to put pen to paper early on in the process – beginning more than one year ahead of the deadline – so we could start having a discussion about items that could be included in the new bill. By starting this conversation early, we would be able to get ahead of the game, and I’m glad we did.

The first proposal I introduced last year would create the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, or SHIPP for short. It’s designed to be a new voluntary income protection program for farmers that would help meet the production and soil health needs in today’s agriculture economy. The new program, which offers a short-term alternative to the popular Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and its long-term requirements, is widely supported. Scott VanderWal, the president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, called it “commonsense” and said it had the potential be a “helpful tool” for South Dakota farmers.

Shortly after I rolled out SHIPP, I introduced a set of proposals that would greatly improve how easement programs are managed by adding flexibility to CRP and creating new options for other easement programs. My legislation would boost the CRP acreage cap to 30 million acres, which represents a 25 percent increase, and it would create a new target acreage enrollment for each state based on historical enrollment. South Dakota is expected to lose nearly 60 percent of its existing CRP acres during the years covered by the 2018 farm bill, so it was clear to me that some changes needed to be made.

From there, I introduced numerous other proposals that would, among other things, simplify the Agriculture Risk Coverage-County payment process for multi-county farms, require a mandatory crop acreage base update, improve eligibility for disaster-related diseases under the Livestock Indemnity Program, accelerate the availability of Livestock Forage Program assistance for counties in the D2 Drought Monitor category, increase the effectiveness of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, and improve the National Environmental Policy Act.

We closed out 2017 with a proposal to expand the sodsaver initiative, which I first authored in the 2008 and 2014 farm bills, for nationwide implementation. In 2018, we picked up right where we left off. This month, I introduced a bill that would help individual Native American ranchers by providing them with premium assistance for grazing loss crop insurance and disaster assistance eligibility for horses that are owned for personal use when natural disasters strike.

Taken as a whole, these bills represent some of the most extensive farm bill policy recommendations that have been introduced this Congress. Again, and I can’t emphasize it enough, we wouldn’t be here without the hard work and dedication of the men and women in South Dakota’s agriculture industry who provided their advice and suggestions along the way. As we approach this fall’s deadline, they’re needed now more than ever.  


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: One South Dakotan’s Purple Heart Story, 73 Years Overdue

One South Dakotan’s Purple Heart Story, 73 Years Overdue
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

One of the important services that our Senate office provides to South Dakotans is assistance in dealing with federal agencies. Over the past three years that I’ve been in office, we have helped countless South Dakotans navigate the bureaucracy of the federal government. With such a large population of veterans living in our state, we often work with different agencies on behalf of veterans. In some cases, we’re able to assist veterans in receiving overdue ribbons and commendations that have been lost in federal paperwork.

We recently had the honor of helping a veteran from Flandreau receive a long overdue Purple Heart Medal. Sylvan Vigness honorably served his country in World War II. On April 1, 1945, Mr. Vigness was serving onboard the U.S.S. Hinsdale when it was hit by a kamikaze during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Mr. Vigness lost sight in his left eye after the attack, and is permanently blind in that eye as a result. Amid the chaos of the attack, the medical records onboard the ship from that day were lost or destroyed, and because of that, Mr. Vigness was denied the Purple Heart for decades.

The Vigness family has spent the past 25 years seeking a Purple Heart for Mr. Vigness, working with my predecessors in the Senate to obtain this long overdue medal. The request was continuously denied because the Navy was unable to locate his medical records from the time of the attack. When the Vigness family contacted our office to look into obtaining the Purple Heart, we began putting together witness statements from his shipmates, along with other materials related to his service and subsequent eye injury. We then sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, requesting the medal for Mr. Vigness, and I had an opportunity to speak directly to the Secretary about it at the Pentagon. On January 17, 2018, Secretary Spencer notified my office that at his request, under the direction of the president, Mr. Vigness, now aged 94, will finally receive the Purple Heart.

Mr. Vigness is a hero who bravely defended his country in World War II, and is fully deserving of the Purple Heart Medal. We’re thankful to him for his service, and we’re thankful to his family and friends for not giving up on seeking this recognition for him. Like Mr. Vigness, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States make incredible sacrifices to defend our freedoms and our way of life. I’m extremely grateful for the president’s personal interest in directing that special attention be paid to getting veterans their overdue medals, as well as for Secretary Spencer, who personally reviewed Mr. Vigness’ medical records and personal statement and awarded him the Purple Heart.

If there are other veterans and families in South Dakota who are seeking to obtain a medal or award, please reach out to our office and if we can, we’ll try to help with that effort. Call or stop in to our Pierre, Rapid City or Sioux Falls offices any time. Location information and phone numbers can be found on our website,


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: The Pursuit of Dreams

The Pursuit of Dreams
By Rep. Kristi Noem

PHOTO: Noem Participates in 2018 March for Life

The whole experience of being a first-time parent can be overwhelming. There’s unmatched joy, of course, but there are also so many questions. How are we going to provide for this baby? What kind of crib do we get? Cloth or disposable? What if something goes wrong? Boy or girl? What kind of person will they become? What kind of parents will we be? Are we ready for this? From the moment Bryon and I found out we were pregnant, we were asking these questions, we were planning, we were praying, and we were dreaming of our kids’ futures.

This January, I introduced legislation that would allow parents to start investing in those dreams from the very beginning too. More specifically, my bill would let parents name their unborn children as beneficiaries of 529 accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings plans designed to help families save for future education costs. If enacted, this would mean unborn children would have a spot in our tax code, which they currently do not. It’s another step toward ensuring every child – born or yet-to-be-born – is given the dignity they deserve.

President Trump has been a good working partner in this goal. His appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, for instance, was a critical win for the pro-life cause. President Trump also signed legislation I backed empowering states to defund Planned Parenthood and put his name on legislation that bans taxpayer-funded abortion, for the time being.

I’m working to push more legislation his way too. In October, the House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion once a baby can feel pain (approximately 20 weeks). While I believe life begins at conception (and have backed legislation that would define life as such), I was pleased to get the House to move a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the Senate has yet to act on the legislation.

I also helped introduce the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which prohibits taxpayer-funded abortions as well as taxpayer-funded subsidies for healthcare plans covering elective abortions. A 2016 Government Accountability Office study showed abortions were paid for with federal dollars through Obamacare exchanges, which we had previously been told would not be the case. According to the Susan B. Anthony List, “Under Obamacare, as many as 111,500 additional abortions per year could be heavily subsidized by taxpayers.” That is unacceptable, and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would fix it. While the House has passed it, the Senate has not taken it up at this point.

The House also passed legislation this January that requires healthcare professionals to provide care to babies who are born alive after a failed abortion attempt.

Additionally, I’ve cosponsored legislation that would prohibit gruesome dismemberment abortions. I’m also working to drive the Heartbeat Protection Act forward, which would protect unborn children whose heartbeats can be detected. And while it’s not as widely covered as abortion is, I’ve been very supportive of pro-life efforts to prohibit physician-assisted suicide.

These issues are important because they center around the foundation of a society – life. On January 19, I joined hundreds of thousands of people, including many South Dakotans, in marching for life. It was a powerful experience. Together, we marched for the unborn, for their future, and for their right to pursue their dreams.

Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Giving the Open Waters Compromise Time to Work

Giving the Open Waters Compromise Time to Work
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

The issue of nonmeandered waters has been a contentious one in recent decades.  Problems arose in the 1990s, when water bodies in eastern South Dakota expanded greatly, after receiving far more moisture than normal. Several legislative efforts tried to address this challenge, but the many competing opinions and interests made compromise elusive.

The situation came to a head last March, when the South Dakota Supreme Court determined that it is “up to the Legislature to decide how these waters are to be beneficially used in the public interest.” Our legislators heard that message and went to work.

An interim legislative committee held four public meetings and engaged many stakeholders. The group toured areas that have been affected.  They went to Day County, Brown County, and the communities of Bristol, Webster, and Waubay.  They saw firsthand the inundated areas and discussed how nonmeandered waters are impacting local residents.

They met with affected agricultural producers, sportsmen and business owners.  Individual committee members held still more public meetings to collect additional input.  During the hearings, the committee heard testimony from more than 70 individuals, considered ten different bill drafts and adopted a number of amendments.

Through that process, the committee drafted a bill called the Open Waters Compromise to balance the interests of landowners with the ability of sportsmen to use public waters for recreation. Then during a special session of the Legislature last June, the Legislature passed and I signed the Open Waters Compromise.

The new law has since opened tens of thousands of acres of nonmeandered waters to public recreation. In fact, more than 99 percent of all nonmeandered water with managed fisheries are open.

This is not only a win for South Dakotans who enjoy fishing and boating. The law also protects the property rights of landowners.  Since the law passed, we have seen that landowners are supportive of keeping nearly all of these waters open. Plus, this compromise has created a new positive dialogue between sportsmen and landowners.

The Open Waters Compromise included a provision to sunset the law in June so that the Legislature could consider whether it was properly addressing the issue. I am introducing a bill to extend the sunset date by three years to June 2021. This will give the new system more time to work before we consider opportunities for improvement.

After many years without a solution, we have found a promising compromise. The ambiguity between public recreational use and landowner rights has been largely eliminated under the new law, and we have a system with a relatively good balance. I hope we will give it more time to work.


Tapio Statements on Islam drawing a difference of opinion in GOP Primary for Congress

Seth Tupper has an article at the Rapid City Journal today which seems to draw some lines of demarcation between the candidates in the GOP Primary.

State Senator Neal Tapio has drawn a hard line against the practice of Islam.

Former Governor’s Chief of Staff Dusty Johnson has drawn a line in favor of the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion.

…and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is doing her best to straddle the fence, and avoid direct statements:

But in a Friday press release, state Sen. Neal Tapio, a Republican from Watertown who has said he plans to enter the U.S. House race, questioned whether the First Amendment applies to the religion of Islam as practiced by adherents known as Muslims.

“Does our Constitution offer protections and rights to a person who believes in the full implementation of Islamic Law, as practiced by 14 Islamic countries and up to 350 [million] self-described Muslims, who believe in the deadly political ideology that believes you should be killed for leaving Islam?” Tapio wrote.


“We’re a country founded on freedom of religion, and that’s what the initial Founding Fathers fought for is freedom of religion,” she said in response to the Journal’s first question.

Next, the Journal asked if religious freedom extends to Muslims. Krebs said, “This nation has the right to practice the religion of choice.”


The interview ended with her never having said “yes” or “no” to the question of whether she supports religious freedom specifically for Muslims.

Johnson, a Republican from Mitchell who formerly served as a public utilities commissioner and as chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, said he “absolutely” supports the right of American Muslims to practice their religion.

“We live in dangerous times, and I know there are people across the globe and at home who hold extreme and un-American views,” Johnson said. “But I think we need to confront those threats with targeted, nuanced, intelligent solutions, and I think stereotyping all American Muslims is a great way to grab headlines, but a lousy way to keep us safe.”

Read us all here.

What do you think?  Do we want government telling us how to practice our faith? Do we object to that kind of oversight? Or should we all straddle the fence in some wiggly way?

Senator Thune’s Statement on the #SchumerShutdown

Thune Statement on Funding the Government

“Democrats continue with their obstruct-at-all-costs approach by threatening a government shutdown over illegal immigration.” 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, issued the following statement today regarding the Senate’s vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government and extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years:

“Democrats continue with their obstruct-at-all-costs approach by threatening a government shutdown over illegal immigration. The continuing resolution includes provisions that should be supported by members of both sides of the aisle — including funding for our troops and a six-year extension of the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program. By forcing a government shutdown, Democrats are preventing our troops from receiving the resources they need to help keep our nation safe, and they are jeopardizing the future of an important program that provides health coverage to children in need. Democrats should end these partisan, political games and join us in funding the government.”