You ever get a problem or question in your head you just have to solve? Courtesy of my insomnia, I had one of those. A 4am mystery that was picking at my brain, which I started to talk about in the previous post, more specifically the SD Taxpayers PAC.
The group obviously has ties to the South Dakota Gun Owners, but they also have a history of hitting below the belt, and saying things about legislators that simply and demonstrably are not true. But they do them anyway.
They’ve been around for a few years, and for a long time have been associated with Ken McGregor, as noted in this 2011 statement of organization.
There’s not much out there about McGregor’s political involvement, aside from serving as the financial face of the group that raised about a half-million dollars to run Glenn Beck rallies in Rapid City and Colorado.
Aside from being the public face for these groups, McGregor has generally maintained a low profile.
The same leadership of the SD Taxpayers PAC group was still in place as late as 2014, according to this article in the Capitol Journal which chronicled their questionable postcards.
The SD Taxpayers PAC has always tended to operate primarily in the GOP primaries to attempt to influence elections. But as noted in the 2014 Campaign Finance report, any discernible funds have come from one sole source – the South Dakota Gun Owners group, and it’s affiliated PAC, as you can see in their 2014 pre-primary campaign finance report:
2016 saw a changing of the guard with the organization, with Ken McGregor ceasing to be noted as their front man… and a new person was named as their public face in 2016.
According to this January filing, Drew Dennert, who is now serving in the State Legislature as a newly elected State Representative, was affiliated with and served as the PAC’s treasurer. However, this was amended within a matter of days, changing the treasurer back to Ken McGregor:
From February 2016, the group moved forward, and the legislative primaries had them attacking Senator Terri Haverly and others. And they filed a pre-primary report with a new player in the game:
The 2016 pre-primary report showed that they had incurred about $7,000 in expenditures, with no receipts. A few days later, they had filed a supplemental report showing that money was coming into the organization, predictably from the only donor they’ve ever disclosed – South Dakota Gun Owners.
From here, this is where the SD Taxpayers Group starts to go down the rabbit hole, courtesy of the 10/28/16 post-primary campaign finance report:
We see their street address is 24737 Dehaven Drive in Custer, and it’s still being run by “Robert Roland.” Now, check out the contributions. There are none. BUT… instead of making a direct donation as they had previously, South Dakota Gun Owners didn’t write a check to the SD Taxpayers PAC..
According to the report SD Gun Owners and Gun Owners PAC directly paid for it and wrote it off to SD Taxpayers PAC as an “In Kind Contribution.” Let’s go look at the South Dakota Gun Owner’s PAC report for the same period:
The in-kind contribution from the PAC is listed (sort of). But things do not seem to jibe with the supplemental report filed.
If you start looking closely at the reports, the numbers, and where the money comes from, you’re left scratching your head over a bit of the mess. And that brings us to where we are today. At least on the surface, it appears that the organization(s) may have some issues to address.
Issue #1: So in what form did the June 2 donation take, and how was it applied? $4004.40 was counted as a donation from a sole entity on June 2, but in the report, $4410 was counted as coming from 2 entities (SDGO PAC and SDGO). And obviously, none of the numbers seem to add up.
Issue #2: South Dakota Gun Owners (Organization and PAC) are noted on the report as having paid for both the printing and the postage on mailings, which went out under SD Taxpayers. Here’s an example of at least one:
So, how exactly did they accomplish this? South Dakota Gun Owners Organization (they claim to be a non-profit) allegedly spent $3030 on a communication coming from SD Taxpayers, which were all candidate advocacy. It was counted as an in-kind contribution, but where’s the independent expenditure disclosure form for SD Gun Owners?
Independent Expenditures Statement – SDCL 12-27-16 states that any PERSON or ORGANIZATION that makes a payment or promise of payment totaling $100.00 or more, including an in-kind contribution, for a communication which expressly advocates for or against a candidate, public office holder, ballot question, or political party.
So, I have to do a form when I support Larry Tidemann on a postcard I send out for myself, but SDGO didn’t do one for a postcard that they bought and entirely financed for another PAC which seems to solely advocate against a candidate?
It all depends on your definition of advocacy. And there might be a problem with that.
Issue #2.5 – Can one PAC legally pay to print and mail materials for another PAC with no disclaimer of the first PAC, simply by calling it an in-kind donation? If so, that’s a new loophole I hadn’t heard about.
Issue #3 – Is SD Taxpayer PAC being honest about the organization’s street address? As noted, they claim it at 24737 DeHaven Drive in Custer.
But if we decide to go vacationing, as found at Heart of the Hills Vacation Homes:
Somehow, I don’t think I’m going to get Robert Roland or anyone who knows anything about that PAC if I go knock on the door.
I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface, but it looks to me as if there’s a messy campaign finance report, two organizations entangled with each other, with both attacking Republicans, and some things on report form that aren’t all as they seem to be.