Campaign finance revision bill scuttled based on liberal talking points, ignoring facts and inflation.

The South Dakota State House killed a long overdue bill this week to revise campaign finance limits to be more in line with vastly higher costs for advertising, postage, signs, stakes, etcetera., based on a lot of faux populism and liberal talking points.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Roger Chase, of Huron, would have increased contribution limits to statewide candidates from $4,000 to $5,000, and doubled the limit in legislative and county races from $1,000 to $2,000. The increase applies to the statute governing limits for individuals as well as entities such as corporations and nonprofits.

“The last time that this increased was 22 years ago,” Rep. Gary Cammack, a Republican from Union Center, said in favor of the change. “Consider the inflation that has occurred in running a campaign: the cost of radio, television, newspapers and postcards.”


Hansen worried that “big corporate interests” would be among the only beneficiaries of the increase and would turn legislative attention away from constituents.

“If we’re honest, I guarantee you that most of your ordinary, everyday constituents don’t even have $1,000,” Hansen said. “But you know who does? Corporate interests.”

Read that here, and try not to barf.

I can’t help but roll my eyes, because the outcome of this bill was not based on logic.

It was killed because it served the narrow interests of a few, as opposed being appropriate for the times, to making the process more accessible, and was based on talking points as opposed to reason.


Costs have gone up over the past 22 years. Way up. But not as much for those already elected.

As Representative Cammack pointed out, the last time the campaign finance limits were increased was over twenty years ago. As someone who deals with campaign materials and mailings, I can guarantee that things have skyrocketed in cost in the intervening years.

Costs go up every year. In the case of this last election due to Bidenflation and oil prices, Sign prices have absolutely skyrocketed, they went up at the start of 2022, and then again after the primary.  Due to steel and shipping shortages in 2022, the basic economy yard sign stakes that were $1 became $2.

Over the past 20 years, postage has gone up…

year first class
postage rate,
cents (current)
2003 .37
2004 .37
2005 .37
2006 .39
2007 .41
2008 .42
2009 .44
2010 .44
2011 .44
2012 .45
2013 .46
2014 .49
2015 .49
2016 .47
2017 .49
2018 .50
2019 .55
2020 .55
2021 .55
2022 May .58

Postage also took another jump in July of this last year, and based on recent post office news, you will see them take another bump up to $.63 cents. I would fully anticipate that with current trends, we will see at least another bump before 2024.  There are hard costs that many campaigns experience, and the challenges to raise money just sets the bar to run for office much higher.

When the legislature refuses to look at 20-year-old campaign finance limits, they skip over the fact that in doing so, there is a strong element of self-protection that goes into it. The power of incumbency is a tough one to overcome. And going along with that is the fact that just about all of the legislators voting against it not only have established name ID, but they already have a stock of reusable signs and stakes and other materials – hard costs that almost all start-up campaigns have to spend money on that they don’t.


The ridiculous “Corporate Interests” argument against the bill was not based in truth.

Further underlining the point why this was a bad vote – the utterly ridiculous claim that somehow by raising campaign finance limits, it’s going to bring “big corporate interests” in.  Tell me another scary bedtime story. 

On a federal level, corporations have gotten even more squeamish about corporate donations. As noted in the Harvard Business Review:

Perhaps most important, political donations greatly heighten corporate risk. In an era when customers, employees, and investors are increasingly scrutinizing companies’ records on employee, environmental, social, and governance issues (we prefer the term EESG over the more common ESG, to appropriately emphasize the importance of employees), the threat of blowback from political contributions has become too great for executives to ignore.

Read the article here.

Despite the legal framework in place to allow it now, corporations donate even less to state and legislative political campaigns. It is as rare as hen’s teeth.

The hands down champion in legislative fundraising this last election was State Representative Tony Venhuizen.  As a former Regent, son-in-law to former Governor Daugaard, Long-time campaign worker, Tony arguably has among the best fundraising success of all other people in the South Dakota Legislature, raising an absolutely staggering $126,301 in funds for his State Legislative campaign effort. How much of that came from corporate dollars?

$1450. Approximately 1.1%. Try not to gasp and be shocked over that corporate donation of $50. 

If opponents to the measure are going to do all their pearl-clutching regarding “corporate interests” based on 1.1% of what the most successful legislative campaign this year raised, they need to have their heads examined. Do they fear it doubling to 2.2% in the next election?


If they are that concerned, why don’t they improve disclosure?

While they stand opposed to modernizing campaign finance limits, you can’t help but notice that the enforcement of the rules we have is kind of hit and miss.

In the past when the Secretary of State put in place a system to track candidate campaign finances – one which caught when donations went over certain amounts – legislators hated it, and pilloried the office for the system. Incoming Secretary of State Monae Johnson has expressed an interest in returning to that kind of system, and that’s one of the best things she could do, but that may be some time off until the staffing issues that her office has been experiencing stabilizes.

Moreso than bemoaning “corporate interests” in a demonstrably false manner than are donating far less than anyone else to state political campaigns, open government and full disclosure are far better tools to rely on.


Just as we increase allowances for the inflation of prices in the modern economy, while it might not be the most popular subject in the world, it’s not an unreasonable thing to allow the support that people give to political campaigns to slightly increase in value over the course of 22 years.

Falsely bemoaning an increase in the amount individuals are allowed to donate as somehow enhancing “corporate interests” rather than the actual inflationary increase it is?

Well, it’s less about protecting the world from the “corporate interests” than it is about protecting those currently in office and their own self-interest.

2 thoughts on “Campaign finance revision bill scuttled based on liberal talking points, ignoring facts and inflation.”

  1. Hey, remember when we voted to cap contributions in 2016, and the cries from the inner-party were so hard that half the legislators started loading an ark to repopulate society from the flood of tears? Yeah, I still remember, good thing it only takes an (R) next to your name to keep getting re-elected in this state.

  2. I guess if we had a use for the avalanche of postcards we all get every campaign season we might give a shit about the rising costs of glossy paper and postage.

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