A mailer in favor of Initiated Measure 23, which hopes to eliminate South Dakota’s Right to Work law by allowing unions to charge non-members for services they claim to render arrived in mailboxes this week.
But from an examination of the mailer which likely went out to thousands of homes across the state, indicates that the mailer in question lacks the political disclaimer that has long been a requirement in South Dakota State Law in some form for decades.
According to South Dakota State Law,
12-27-15. Printed political communications to contain certain language–Exceptions–Violation as misdemeanor. Any printed material or communication made, purchased, paid for, or authorized by a candidate, political committee, or political party which expressly advocates for or against a candidate, public office holder, ballot question, or political party shall prominently display or clearly speak the statement: “Paid for by (Name of candidate, political committee, or political party).” This section does not apply to buttons, balloons, pins, pens, matchbooks, clothing, or similar small items upon which the inclusion of the statement would be impracticable. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Upon a close examination of the piece, there’s no evidence that this printed political communication contains anything resembling a political disclaimer, despite the clear requirements of South Dakota election law, making it illegal, and a class 1 misdemeanor under state law.
According to a white paper issued by the opposition, this measure was sponsored by a Union member, but backed by significant labor union resources:
The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 based in Minneapolis claims on its website that “one of our members” is responsible for sponsoring the petition. Local 49 represents over 13,000 heavy equipment operators who drive bulldozers, backhoes, cranes, and other big machines in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
This union provided financial support for the “Committee for Fair Compensation” of $158,400 in 2015. It can be safely assumed that the money was used to gather signatures with the unspent balance ready for use during the campaign.
As you’ll note, the ballot committee who is on the return address also seems to have strong ties to organized labor…
…noting the return e-mail address of “wtham@local49,org.”
I asked the Secretary of State what people should do when people receive illegal, undisclaimed mailers such as this, and her spokesman Jason Williams noted:
They should submit the complaint to the States Attorney for county races/ballot measures or to the Attorney General for statewide and legislative races and ballot questions.
Williams also cited SDCL 12-27-35. Investigation and prosecution of violations by attorney general–Civil actions, and SDCL 12-27-40. Investigation and prosecution of violations by state’s attorney–Civil actions.
So, if you’ve received one of these illegal mailers for a statewide ballot measure, per the SOS, you should direct it to AG Marty Jackley. You can correspond with the AG by writing to:
Office of the Attorney General
500 East Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501