Initiated Measure 22 might have made outlaws of bloggers, facebook users, and twitter users who post political content.

I’m an outlaw. He’s an outlaw. She’s an outlaw. They’re all outlaws. We’re all outlaws. You might be an outlaw too, according to IM22.

A friend on the opposite side of the aisle dropped me a note today. One that has serious repercussions for not just bloggers, but for anyone who uses Social Media in South Dakota. Because the poorly written Initiated Measure 22 might have just made all of us who engage in Social Media into a pack of outlaws.

The culprit? Section 11 of the act:

Section 11. That chapter 12-27 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

Any expenditure made by any person, group of persons, political committee, or other entity in cooperation, consultation, or concert, with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, the candidate’s authorized political committees, or the candidate’s committee’s agents, is considered to be a contribution to the candidate.

For the purposes of this section, candidate solicitation or direction of funds for or to a person, group of persons, political committee or other entity constitutes cooperation sufficient to render any subsequent expenditure by the person, group of persons, political committee, or other entity in support of that candidate or in opposition to that candidate’s opponent to be considered a contribution to the candidate.

The financing of the dissemination, distribution, or republication, in whole or in part, of any broadcast or any written, graphic, or other form of campaign materials prepared by a candidate, the candidate’s authorized committee, or an agent of either of the foregoing is considered a contribution for the purposes of contribution limitations and reporting responsibilities of the person group of persons, political committee or other entity making the expenditure. The candidate who prepared the campaign material does not receive or accept an in-kind contribution, and is not required to report an expenditure, unless the dissemination, distribution, or republication of campaign materials was done in concert or cooperation with or at the request or suggestion of the candidate. However, the following uses of campaign materials do not constitute a contribution to the candidate who originally prepared the materials:

(1) The campaign material is disseminated, distributed, or republished by the candidate or the candidate’s authorized committee who prepared that material;

(2) The campaign material is incorporated into a communication that advocates the defeat of the candidate or party that prepared the material; or

(3) The campaign material is disseminated, distributed, or republished in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate.

Read that here.

As bad as other portions of this measure are, this section is very notable in it’s definition, and it’s poorly worded language for being particularly offensive. Why? Because it represents an attempt to censor and control what people write about candidates:

The financing of the dissemination, distribution, or republication, in whole or in part, of any broadcast or any written, graphic, or other form of campaign materials prepared by a candidate, the candidate’s authorized committee, or an agent of either of the foregoing is considered a contribution for the purposes of contribution limitations and reporting responsibilities of the person group of persons, political committee or other entity making the expenditure.

Read it again.  The financing of the dissemination, distribution, or republication in whole or in part, of any broadcast or any written, graphic, or other form of campaign materials prepared by a candidate, the candidate’s authorized committee ot an agent of either of the foregoing is considered a contribution….

So, if Dakotawarcollege.com disseminates a campaign brochure. Or a press release. Or a YouTube based commercial that comes from a campaign, that could possibly be considered a campaign contribution under IM22.

Now, saying that, there is a carveout.

However, the following uses of campaign materials do not constitute a contribution to the candidate who originally prepared the materials:

(3) The campaign material is disseminated, distributed, or republished in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate.

Herein lies the problem that adherents of social media face.  The carveout allowing it only applies if it’s in “a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication.”

So, where exactly do political blogs fall under this? And more importantly to users of social media – how is Facebook exempted? Or Twitter?

Initiated Measure 22 ignores the existence of any kind of modern social media, choosing to focus solely on traditional Mainstream Media. If I had a newspaper, I’m ok. However, if I’m solely internet based… not so much.  Or maybe not at all.

Exceptions for traditional media…but not new media . And according to IM22, dissemination of information in whole or part is considered a contribution, with only the exceptions outlined in 11(3).

You might not care that I might not be able to publish a press release from Kristi Noem or Marty Jackley for Governor.  But what about your own ability to share political news with your friends on facebook or twitter. Because there’s no carve out for that, either.

These are the uncertainties and questions we have to thank Don Frankenfeld and Rick Weiland for. Complete and utter violations of the rights of the press, and our right to free speech. They might not fit neatly into the little box their out of state allied drew up. But they exist. And shame on them for replacing those freedoms with Government oversight.

Uncertainty is a scary thing. These are the same uncertainties we need our legislators to resolve immediately.

4 Replies to “Initiated Measure 22 might have made outlaws of bloggers, facebook users, and twitter users who post political content.”

  1. Anonymous

    The only think IM22 did not outlaw was out of state financiers pawning their garb on unsuspecting South Dakotans via never-was democrat staffers with bad hair.

    Hmmmm

  2. father of three

    What would be interesting to see is how they qualify the dollar amount that your blog contributed to the campaigns. As I believe it to be, and I may be wrong, no one pays to post a letter or press release to you. Granted, you accept paid advertisements, but that is a horse of a different color. o, if Jackley issues a press release and it mentions by name his opponents, does you contribution only apply to him, or does it apply to all of the ones listed?