Zach Crago still on the Dem’s Payroll? South Dakota Democrats paying Crago helmed consulting firm for Strategy.

Here’s something from the Democrat’s latest federal FEC filing. If you take a look at the latest filing, under schedule “H4.”


We see that Democrats are reporting that they paid a “Strategic Planning Consulting Fee” to Bluestem Initiatives, LLC of Sioux Falls.  You might be asking “Who dat?”


Apparently, they’re still paying former Executive Director Zach Crago, who led Democrats to their latest set of victories for his “Stratergy.” You know, their victories. Like the one where they picked up that one State Senate seat.

And my memory escapes me at the moment, did it cost them five or six House seats to pick up that one?

Is this an omen that South Dakota Democrats are going to stay the course for 2016?  Because I’m good with that.

Democrats realize they can’t win, plan on recruiting Republicans.

Well, that’s a new one on me.

If you haven’t noticed, because of their stances which don’t jibe with most of South Dakota, Democrats have been hunted to extinction in the state. So, what’s the response of young democrats who are tired of seeing their party lose race, after race, after race?

Recruit friendly Republicans:

An organization formed in November is in the early stages of implementing a mission of electing more Democrats to local offices and the state Legislature.


The Democratic Party is good at getting policy passed and in supporting federal races, so the South Dakota Progress group will fill a niche at the local level.

Wilke said the Democratic Party is unable to focus on the local elections, especially the nonpartisan ones, because it doesn’t have the manpower or the time.


The goal is to fill ballots with the names of Democrats or even progressive Republicans.

“We would find them,” she said. “We wouldn’t just wait for them to come to us. We would look for people who are really active in their community.”

Read it all here.

So, the Democrat Party can’t be bothered to run candidates, because they’re too busy on ballot issues and “supporting federal races.”  So, with their blessing, this outside group is going to recruit liberal Republicans to run.   Whom I really, really suspect are going to be slaughtered at the ballot box. Badly.

They might ask Scott Heidepreim how that worked out for him 4-5 years ago when he switched parties.

Someday, we’ll be telling our grandchildren – “I remember when there were two political parties in South Dakota. But then a bunch of goofy liberals got ahold of the Democrat party, and drove it off the cliff.”

The takeaway is that Democrats have finally realized they can’t win, so, they plan on recruiting Republicans.  Can we start counting down the days to the next shellacking at the ballot box?

…..Or maybe it’s time to approve Keystone XL

From the Associated Press:

The federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S.

The projection comes from a previously unreported analysis by the Department of Transportation that reviewed the risks of moving vast quantities of both fuels across the nation and through major cities. The study completed last July took on new relevance this week after a train loaded with crude derailed in West Virginia, sparked a spectacular fire and forced the evacuation of hundreds of families.

Monday’s accident was the latest in a spate of fiery derailments, and senior federal officials said it drives home the need for stronger tank cars, more effective braking systems and other safety improvements.

“This underscores why we need to move as quickly as possible getting these regulations in place,” said Tim Butters, acting administrator for the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Read that here.

In response to using trains to haul fuel, the federal government is poised to impose a slate of rules and regulations.

As opposed to examining a much safer method – Approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

But that would make too much sense.

US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Waters of the U.S. Rule Hurts South Dakota Producers

Waters of the U.S. Rule Hurts South Dakota Producers
February 23, 2015
U.S. Senator Mike Rounds

MikeRounds official SenateIn South Dakota, agriculture is our number one industry, accounting for more than half of our economic output. To be successful, our farmers and ranchers must be good stewards of their land so that it remains viable. And they are. South Dakota producers are inherently good conservationists – their livelihoods depend on it. They don’t need the Obama Administration interfering in their conservation efforts.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers think they know how to manage our land better than us. Their latest proposal would redefine EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, expanding its regulatory authority to cover puddles, small ponds, field ditches and other areas with only remote connections to water, essentially allowing them to dictate farming operations.

Over the President’s Day recess, I hosted a roundtable discussion with area stakeholders in Sioux Falls to hear firsthand how the Waters of the U.S. proposal would impact agriculture. Representatives from the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, the South Dakota Soybean Association, Ag United, Minnehaha County and the South Dakota Farm Bureau all showed up and told me the same thing—the proposed rule would significantly handicap their day-to-day operations. Under the new rule, my understanding is that if a farmer wanted to spray fertilizer on his fields but part of it was connected to water – even temporarily – that farmer would have to apply for a permit before he or she could proceed so as not to contaminate that water. And we all know how well the federal government is at processing paperwork.

If the intent of the rule is merely to “clarify” the Clean Water Act and not change any policy – as EPA claims is the case – then they shouldn’t need this rule on the books at all. But I agree with farmers and ranchers that the rule would be a complete overhaul and expansion of EPA’s jurisdiction. In this case, I believe it is Congress’s duty to determine whether such a sweeping policy change is necessary. I’m confident that many of my colleagues would agree with me that the Waters of the U.S. proposal is completely unnecessary.

In 1972, the Clean Water Act established a system that gives the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers the ability to regulate navigable waters, such as rivers. It allows local governments to monitor smaller water features, like ditches, ponds, and streams because state and local governments are more in touch with economic and environmental situations on the ground. This has been working for the past 43 years – without the heavy hand of Washington getting in the way.

Giving the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers more control over our lives and land is both unnecessary and unwise. Every farmer and rancher I have talked to about this has agreed that the proposed rule would bog down their productivity with massive new regulatory hurdles. It is clear to me that the Waters of the U.S. proposal is fatally flawed. I will continue to seek ways to stop its implementation as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over EPA and the Army Corps.


US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Where’s the Meat?

Where’s the Meat?
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressMany of us recall the popular 1980s ad campaign by the fast food chain Wendy’s with its slogan, “Where’s the beef?” The ad poked fun at many fast food establishments for the sometimes small size of the hamburger patty compared with buns. Wendy’s gained attention for their clever ad that touched on the frustrations of many patrons who wanted more for their money. While the campaign is now a famous slogan in the advertising world, a slight modification of the slogan could highlight concerns about the new Obama administration report on 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans—“Where’s the meat?”

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review the dietary guidelines for American food consumption. A recent advisory committee report recommends to the agencies what should be included in the new dietary guidelines. The nearly 600-page report leaves lean red meat out of what it considers to be a healthy diet, which is not only a great concern to dietitians who support consumption of lean red meat but is also concerning for the South Dakota livestock industry.

This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has promoted limiting meat consumption. As you may recall, in 2012, USDA sent an in-house newsletter encouraging employees to participate in “Meatless Mondays” while dining in USDA cafeterias. The newsletter went on to attack the production of meat in the U.S., saying that meat production has “a large environmental impact,” and that an employee should “help yourself and the environment” by not eating meat.

It is hard to believe that the very agency tasked with promoting agriculture would encourage people not to eat meat. From the short-lived Meatless Mondays, to misguided dietary guidelines, farmers and ranchers deserve more of an ally in USDA, rather than an adversary. Misleading dietary guidelines would not only confuse consumers but would also harm South Dakota’s livestock industry.

I urge the Obama administration to reconsider the recommendations in the report. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees USDA, I will continue to closely monitor the guidelines as they move forward. As Kimberley and I continue to do our best to maintain a healthy diet, we’ll be supporting the products of farmers and ranchers across the state, including lean red meat, and I encourage South Dakotans to join me.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: With the IRS, It’s Guilty until Proven Innocent

With the IRS, It’s Guilty until Proven Innocent
By Rep. Kristi Noem
February 20, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Innocent until proven guilty: It’s the basis for legal proceedings in the U.S. – except when the IRS is involved.  Under their rules, the IRS sentences first; asks questions later.  It’s an unacceptable practice and something I’m committed to holding them accountable for as a member of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee.

During an Oversight Subcommittee hearing earlier this month, I heard testimony from a small-business-owning veteran.  Andrew Clyde started “Clyde Armory” – a gun and ammunition retailer in Athens, Georgia – in 1991.  Over the next 17 years, he grew the business from a “home business” to a storefront shop, sustaining it even through three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

On April 12, 2013, he got a visit that he’ll never forget. Two federal agents stopped by his store, questioned him about his business, and notified him that nearly one million dollars had already been taken from his company’s bank account at the local credit union.

He testified: “I was never so afraid in my life, not even in combat, so much so that I trembled when they left…. I was just depositing my own hard earned and legally earned cash in the bank. How can that be a felony? I pay my taxes, I try to do everything correct.”

No one ever claimed the money was earned through illegal activities.  Instead, the IRS argued Mr. Clyde had deposited the money illegally.  They cited a law, which was intended to stop terrorists and drug dealers, that requires banks to report any cash transaction over $10,000 and makes it illegal for account holders to split up the deposit in order to avoid having the bank file a report.

Mr. Clyde admitted that he had a number of deposits for just under $10,000, but not because he was trying to skirt the law.  Rather, he had a standard insurance policy that would only insure deposits up to $10,000.

Within a matter of days, his annual taxes were due and the next employee payroll had to be made.  By the time those bills were paid, he had no more working capital left.  He said he immediately had to cancel every product order he could and take out an $80,000 loan to cover regular business expenses.

It took more than three months for his case to get in front of a judge.  And when he finally did, the federal government offered to settle – so long as they could keep a half-million dollars of his cash. He didn’t accept their offer.  They came back later and offered to settle for just $109,000.  Again, he didn’t accept because to his knowledge he did nothing wrong.

In the end, he agreed to forfeit $50,000 to settle the case.  This was after he’d already spent nearly $150,000 on his legal defense.

What the IRS did here was absurd.  At the hearing, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen offered an apology to any business owner who was wrongly impacted.  And while that’s more than they’ve received in the past, it hardly makes up for the business they lost.

It’s hard to know where to start with this IRS.  The agency’s targeting of conservative groups has made many question the agency’s political independence and whether one’s use of free speech could be held against them.  Its lavish taxpayer-funded conferences have raised even more questions.

Hard working taxpayers deserve answers.  What the IRS is doing – how they are conducting themselves – is ridiculous.  It is completely unacceptable.  They must be held accountable and I’m committed to doing that.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Offering Quality, Affordable Higher Education In South Dakota

Offering Quality, Affordable Higher Education In South Dakota

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardEducation after high school can be expensive. Over the past few decades, the cost of higher education has increased much faster than average inflation. The costs of things like food, housing and medical care have increased over the years, but, on average, not at the rate of college tuition. In some places it’s downright unaffordable. For instance, a four-year degree from an Ivy League school can cost up to $100,000.

The truth is that higher education doesn’t have to be expensive and young people don’t have to go far from home to get a good education. South Dakota’s tech schools and universities offer affordable programs and a number of scholarship opportunities, including the Build Dakota Scholarship and the Opportunity Scholarship.

The Build Dakota Scholarship is a partnership between T. Denny Sanford and the State of South Dakota. Mr. Sanford donated $25 million, which the state matched, to create a $50 million scholarship program for students entering high-need workforce programs at South Dakota technical institutes.

The program will fund 300 full-ride scholarships for qualified applicants in high-need programs. Anyone interested in enrolling in one of the high-need programs in South Dakota is eligible. Graduates of these programs have high-paying, in-demand jobs waiting for them at the end of their schooling. Employers in these fields will have a bumper crop of skilled and motivated applicants for jobs that now remain unfilled.

Anyone interested in the program can go to to see what programs are eligible and how to apply.

The South Dakota Opportunity scholarship provides financial aid for South Dakota high school students. It is available to those who achieve a 24 or above on the ACT and earn good grades in high school while taking a rigorous curriculum. The scholarship’s aim is to incentivize our best students to stay in South Dakota for college.

Because the scholarship has not kept up with the increasing cost of college, it is not the incentive it once was to keep young people in the state. In my budget, I have proposed to increase the value of the scholarship from $5,000 for 4 years of college to $6,500 for 4 years of college. My proposal to increase the scholarship, House Bill 1147, is dependent upon approval from the Legislature.

The Build Dakota tech school scholarship and the Opportunity Scholarship are both wise investments. It is my hope that these scholarships will lead more young people to consider the affordable, high quality education experiences offered right here in South Dakota.


Thank God we have the Argus Leader to tell us that Scott Hoy somehow manages to survive.

I’m laying in bed with my iPad this morning, occasionally getting up to make sure kids are fed as my wife dozes after driving down and back to Arkansas between Thursday and Saturday.

And as I’m glancing at the morning’s news, I come across what has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read, as the headline trumpeted “Scott Hoy’s long journey back.” I had to read, because I was naturally curious if he had a near-death cancer scare, or a car accident, or whatever.

No, this was not a journey back from infirmity. It was a tale of his journey back from… Internet infamy?

Scott Hoy was descending the escalator at Sioux Falls Regional Airport after a trip to Florida in December 2013 when he learned he was a national punchline.

The Sioux Falls lawyer heard from a colleague that he had appeared on the previous night’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” show, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. Hoy pointed out that television commercials for his family-run law firm had been placed in that time slot many times.

“He said, ‘No, you don’t understand — you were on Fallon last night,'” recalls Hoy. “By the time I reached the bottom of the escalator, my stomach had started to drop out.”

Read it here.

WTF? (If you’ll pardon the expression).

I had to go out to the curb to get my dead tree edition, out of curiosity where it ended up in terms of placement. It was on top of the life section, right above a story & photo about wiener dog races. I’m not sure how a story about the aftermath, fourteen months later, of a trial lawyers’ teasing after an awful commercial beat out wiener dog racing, but sometimes editors have to make tough calls, don’t they?

It’s here my wife wakes up long enough to comment “I read that last night. It was pandering.” And promptly dozes off again, giving the story about all the attention it deserved from the public at large.

I’m not sure how we managed to get by for 14 months without this story having been told. Maybe we can have the Argus bring us equally compelling tales, such as feature articles on the poverty elected officials face when they’re not being paid as much as they’d like. Or maybe a follow up on the anguished wiener dog who came in last.

Yes, through their valiant and intrepid reporting we may have learned that Scott Hoy somehow manages to bravely soldier on.

But we’re also asking “why on earth am I paying money for this newspaper?”

Rounds Statement on Fermilab Meeting

Rounds Statement on Fermilab Meeting

PIERRE, S.D. – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today made the following statement following a meeting with Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer to discuss the planned Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) experiment:

“I was pleased to meet with Director Nigel Lockyer to hear about the latest LBNF developments. Fermilab is leading LBNF for the Department of Energy, partnering with the Sanford Underground Research Facility to base the LBNF detectors for this world-leading neutrino experiment deep underground in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Construction of the facility is expected to have an immediate economic impact in South Dakota. I’m proud of the work being done by Director Lockyer, his team and the crew at Sanford Underground Research Facility to further scientific discovery. We welcome this opportunity here in South Dakota.”