Bill Maher promo noting how he’s “not that dissimilar from Donald Trump.” Not that you’ll get to meet him at the Dem’s reception.

On a Dakota Midday promo on SDPB, noting an upcoming interview today with comedian Bill Maher, who is being used to raise funds for the South Dakota Democrat Party, via his trip to Sioux Falls is apparently noted in the promo as how “he and Donald Trump are not that dissimilar.”

So, how does that work with the people attending the upcoming Democrat fundraiser?  Does that mean they’re endorsing that assessment?

That might be a good question for those shelling out $125 a pop to go see him with the Democrats.

maherBTW, about that fundraiser….

Regarding that fundraiser with premier seating and “Pre-Show Reception”…. It looks as if Democrats were forced to put a bit of a disclaimer on their web site about who is showing up when for that exclusive reception they keep hawking:

On Sunday, September 13th, comedian Bill Maher will be performing at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, SD at 7:00 pm! The South Dakota Democratic Party has a limited amount of tickets available for this one night only event, and is hosting an exclusive pre-show reception to Bill Maher’s performance.


There will not be a meet and greet with Bill Maher. The pre-show reception is an event hosted by the South Dakota Democratic Party in anticipation of Bill Maher’s first time to South Dakota.

Read that here.

Sooo…. The “Pre-Show Reception” actually gives you party officials like Ann Tornberg and Nick Nemec giving talks about how awesome Democrats are, despite a continuing string of losses and being at historic low numbers. And bonus – you’re not going to meet anyone famous, but you get to sit together for the privilege of paying $125 to the Democrats for tickets you could have gotten for $25 to $75 by yourself.

Good luck with that one.

DNC meeting in Minneapolis this weekend. And how much are they spending to keep the SDDP afloat?

Word is that a contingent of Democrats from South Dakota made a pilgrimage to Minneapolis to the Democrat National Committee meeting taking place this week.

Aside from the meeting itself, the “Why” is pretty obvious, as the SDDP desperately needs the pipeline of cash from the national committee to buoy them up… or else they’re not likely to stay afloat.  So, state Democrats have to attend to do some big ring (or lower) kissing.

SDDP August 2015 FEC

While Republican-hating weatherman Phil Schrek can only keep the South Dakota Democrat Party afloat $20 at a time on his salary….


…. State Democrats need more serious cash to keep the lights on. And it’s obvious they rely on their national party to do so:


According to the August 20 report, over $7500 was dropped into SDDP coffers by the National party in July to keep them afloat. And the party credited them for sharing the voter file.

The word long ago when former ED/Chair Ben Nesselhuf left, was that he knew that the DNC money train wasn’t going to last forever, so he got while the getting was good.  But, despite the SDDP maintaining a phenomenal record of losses, surprisingly, the national cash is still there.

But is it good policy? Should the national party continue to keep the state Democrat party afloat?  What’s your opinion?

Dem’s May FEC Report. Money from National Dems & Teamsters. A bit more in salaries going out…

The Dem’s May FEC Report is out, and there are a few items on it worth reporting.

Dem May Federal Fec

South Dakota Democrats are still quite dependent on the National party, receiving over $7000 in financial transfusion to prop it up. They also have some cash donated from the Teamster’s DRIVE Pac.

And then there’s the money going out in salaries, which I find the most interesting for a party that has yet to announce it has anointed the long overdue ED yet:

Interim ED Zach Nistler – $100, $172, $1462.12, $1462.13
Ryan Rolfs – $100, $172, $1462.12, $1462.13Savanna Beckman – $397.10, $240.11
Johnathan Chapman – $1321.25
Michael Dupiz – $156.99
Lucy George-Cooper (a.k.a. Weiland Staffer, Rumored to be Paula Hawks’ Campaign person) – $1321.25
Alexander Mader – $418.81
Emily Meier – $277.00

It remains to be seen what these people are doing, but they’re firmly latched on to the SDDP, helping to drain it from $59,113 cash on hand down to $31,681  – a drop of nearly $28K

Slick Rick Weiland trying to fleece donors to turn South Dakota into “Liberal Land”

Losing Democrat US Senate Candidate Rick Weiland just sent out another plea for money.

And it’s a doozy, as he lays out his plan to pass laws and re-write the South Dakota State Constitution to re-engineer the state into a hippy dippy liberal utopia where Democrats can win elections:

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2015 12:03:30 +0000
From: [email protected]
Subject: Why losing my US Senate race might be for the best?

You were one of the tens of thousands of Americans who contributed to my race for the United States Senate last year and for that I will be eternally grateful – but as you know, I didn’t win.

The loss was gut-wrenching, especially since Harper Polling, a Republican firm, had me only 4 points down a month from the election and our internal polls agreed. I really thought we had a chance but I was blown away by a tidal wave of big money in the last few weeks and the rest is history.

BUT — surprising as it may seem, it may have been for the best.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be in the Senate, fighting for a more fair, more socially just America – starting with overturning Citizens United and working for better wages, fairer trade and taxes, marriage equality, stopping Keystone, working on climate change, investing in renewable energy, education and in our infrastructure – the list goes on and on and on.

But sometimes things happen for a reason, and I truly believe that I may have a greater opportunity to affect the direction of our country with TakeItBack.Org — than I would have had I won.

WHY — because Congress is gridlocked, its gears frozen in place. Inert.

The truth is, any progress we’re going to make in the foreseeable future is going to be in the states, not the federal government, and it’s the states where our organization, TakeItBack.Org, is totally focused.

Can you imagine the John Boehner’s House of Representatives passing campaign reform? Or Mitch McConnell’s Senate supporting an increase in the minimum wage? Not going to happen.

What I can imagine, however, is putting our energy and resources into fixing our country, one state at a time, and that’s exactly what TakeItBack.Org is doing.

We are using ballot measures to take our country back by supporting: 1) an “anti-corruption/big money” initiative that our new poll shows is “through the roof!” 2) an initiative to establish a nonpartisan legislative redistricting commission, ending the ability of the Legislature to draw boundaries for their own political advantage, which polls at 72%-19% in favor; and 3), a constitutional amendment that would turn the South Dakota Legislature into a nonpartisan body which is favored 59%-36%, same as has existed in Nebraska for 80 years, which just recently became the first conservative state in 43 years to repeal the death penalty.

If successful, these initiatives will transform South Dakota, and if we can pass them here, we can pass them anywhere.

We also know that we can’t do this alone. We need resources to continue to draft these ballot measures, hire paid circulators, recruit volunteers and get our message out to the voters as to why they should consider and vote next year for transformative change.

We could all sit back and let someone else fight this fight but, frankly, there is no “someone else.”

This is up to all of us, and it is why I have decided to engage in this fight to take our state and country back.

We will not be successful if you don’t join us — We need you!

Rick Weiland

Much of what he’s talking about in terms of redistricting, changing the structure of the legislature require changes in the state constitution, and seem to be little more than a liberal pipe dream thats never going to happen.

But if it helps him make a buck…..

** Bonus BS!**   Did he really say “tens of thousands of Americans who contributed to my race?

I’d like to see proof of that.

Because I’ve looked at his campaign finance reports, and I’m not sure he hit 1000, much less “tens of thousands.”

Ballot Measures, and the death rattle of Democrats in South Dakota.

Maybe I’m jaded, having gone through some of the goofiest measures on the ballot over the past couple of decades; Jury nullification. JAIL for Judges. IM 10 for open and clean government.. But after seeing this filing, I’m left wondering why people think we need MORE measures on the ballot?

Yes, it appears that yet another ballot measure is coming, based on the ballot question statement of organization filed this past week. Douglas Kronaizl, who was last seen trafficking with the Matt Varilek and Rick Weiland campaigns, filed a new ballot question organization whose primary interest is to “Amend the Constitution to broaden and protect the initiative and referendum process,” and whose statement of purpose & goals is to “enable voters to responsibly refer any laws passed by the legislature and limit legislative overreach…”


While a ballot measure has not shown it’s head yet, given the sponsor’s history with him, I’m guessing this is connected with the Rick Weiland political organization that sends out all the fundraising beg e-mails, which have claimed they’re going to be submitting a measure.

Although, there’s nothing here that talks about his proposed “anti-corruption/big money’ initiative.

(Update – Doug tells me that “while I helped out with the Weiland camp last summer, neither he nor his new organization have been involved with this measure.”   Now I’m really curious as to the “why.”)

South Dakota has been a pioneer in the initiative and referendum movement; to allow citizens the ability to directly propose and refer laws to a vote of the people. Various states have adopted the model, although in some the process has run wild.

Consider California, which has become the poster child for crazy initiatives, and whose most recent proposed initiated measure is the Sodomite Suppression Act, which advocates for the shooting of homosexuals:

Now to the opinion of one Huntington Beach lawyer who’s proposed an initiative that’s causing a stir in California. Officially, it is called the Sodomite Suppression Act, and it allows for gays and lesbians to, and this is a quote, “to be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” It calls for killing people. The lawyer, Matthew McLaughlin, now needs more than 365,000 signatures to get his proposal on the ballot. And while it’s highly unlikely that will ever happen, it has raised questions about California’s referendum system.


SIEGEL: You said recently, speaking of this Sodomite Suppression Act, this is a nut job and an illegal proposition. I understand that we can’t prevent nut jobs, but if it were demonstrably illegal, wouldn’t there be some mechanism to keep it off the ballot?

AMAR: Well, there might be. What California law says is that the attorney general, a political elected official, cannot by herself exclude a measure from the signature-gathering process because we don’t trust elected political officials to make judgments about what is necessarily legal or not, especially in closed cases. But if she were to go to a court and ask a court to declare this proposal patently unconstitutional and could never go into effect even if enacted, the court might feel comfortable prohibiting it from going any farther. But we have a strong preference in California for judges making these determinations rather than elected political officials.

Read it here at NPR.

South Dakota is already viewed as one of the easiest states to get a measure on the ballot. Does anyone think we need to make it easier, as this organization is proposing?

Having abandoned it’s status as an organization that runs candidates for office several years ago, the only group who benefits from making the initiative process easier would be the South Dakota Democrat Party. Why do I think this? Well, they spend an inordinate amount of effort to place measures on the ballot that they are otherwise unable to get through the legislature as legislative proposals, due to more than anemic numbers.

But, does substituting ballot measures for party building represent good politics? Not really. If anything, its a quick feel-good fix for a long term problem of party identity.

They seem to think that going around the system to try to pass or protest measures is accomplishing something. But in the process, by ignoring their need to recruit and run candidates, they’re running off the cliff like a line of lemmings.

If Democrats are perceived as perennial losers who can’t win elections in this state (as they are), no one will want to be a Democrat, or run as a Democrat. Because no one wants to be on a perennially losing side.

Look at the example of Dale Hargens, House Democratic Minority Whip from 2003-2004, and House Minority Leader from 2005-2008. When he looked at running in 2014, it wasn’t as a Democrat:

Hargens was an interesting entry into the Republican primary because he is a legislator that already served for a number of years as  Democrat; and he was a Democrat Minority Whip and Democrat Minority Leader during that time.

Hargens said he felt the Democrat party moved away from him in its surge to the left. He said the Democrat Party had “Turned the lights out”.

Read that here.

A Democrat Legislative Leader who took a look at what his party had to offer, consigned to say that the “Democrat party moved away from him in its surge to the left,” and that they’d “turned the lights out.”

If that’s not a party identity problem, I don’t know what is!

The focus on ballot issues by Democrats does not represent political progress or the exercise of political muscle in South Dakota. It’s a continued ignorance of their basic root problems. And it represents is the death rattle of a political party that once used to be able to compete on a larger stage in the state.

DNC Party Chair coming to SD to help Dems. Who have no one for her to help.

This is a good one, and it’s been kept fairly quiet in the press.

Her donors hate her. The White House might not like her so much. She throws verbal-blunder bombs all over the place.  She says stuff so off the wall even CNN calls her out.

Yet, South Dakota Democrats led by Ann Tornberg are happily bringing in one of the most partisan people in the country, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida to be their dinner speaker.  (As in one dinner, because that’s all they generally have.)


It’s right there on their web site. But with no information. No “Read more here.”  It’s like they’re specifically downplaying her appearance.

So, on April 18th, the National Democrat Chairwoman is going to be in South Dakota to boost the SDDP.

If only Democrats had candidates for Wasserman Schultz to help.

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.

While Wismer gave South Dakota Democrats $4600, the SDDP kicked a check for $23,000 to Kansas Democratic Party

Now this was a curious thing I noted on the South Dakota Democrat Party’s Year End Report. While Susan Wismer gave South Dakota Democrats $4600, the South Dakota Democratic Party was shipping money out of state to the tune of $23,000 to Kansas Democratic Party


As Indicated in the year end report filed with the Secretary of State’s office for the period during the last 2 weeks of the election through the end of the year, State Democrats received donations from various people, including $4600 from the Wismer for Governor campaign. (I’m assuming it was for printing, since that’s how Wismer coded it in her campaign finance report, as opposed to a contribution to the party, as the party had coded it)

But during the same period Susan and others were paying in as they raced to the finish line, the State Democratic Party cut a check – and not just a small one – to the Kansas Democratic Party, totaling $23,000 .At the same time they made various token donations of $1838 to Denny Pierson, and $500 to their Secretary of State Candidate.


So, why were South Dakota Democrats sending $23,000 to another state at a time when their candidates were probably looking in couch cushions for money?  I’m sure Denny Pierson, or Angelia Schultz could have found a way to use $23,000, not to mention Susan Wismer, or the dozens of Democrats running legislative races.

Now, to be fair, South Dakota Democrats weren’t the only ones who kicked a check down to the land of Dorothy & Toto. The Louisiana Democratic Party joined South Dakota’s donation with even more:


So, what were the sources of the funds the SDDP sent off to another state? That’s a good question. Standing out in the year end report was a big check from United Auto Workers at the same time for 20k….


But the remaining $3000 is a bit more mysterious. No money from the Democrat Governor’s Association or other national level entity. Just the 20k check from the union. But, I’m sure the source is in there somewhere.

So, we have the who and most of the what at this point…. just leaving the why.

Why did South Dakota Democrats send off $23,000 to another state?

It likely was a way for an organization(s) friendly to Democrats to get around more restrictive campaign finance laws in other states by routing federal funds through a state political party with lax campaign finance laws. They in turn send it to another state political party in a state with stronger laws that wouldn’t normally allow them to take such a large donation directly from that type of organization.

Cool, huh?  Those are the odd loopholes in campaign finance that are often exploited to get money to a campaign effort that groups are otherwise topped out on donating to.

But of course, I’m sure Democratic candidates didn’t need the $23,000 their state party sent off to another state. I’m sure they got plenty of assistance from the State Democratic Party to run the kind of campaigns they could be proud of, despite losing 4 more legislative seats, and giving Republicans total control over all the statewide elective offices.

What do you think?

State Rep Kevin Killer’s PAC has some confusing campaign finance reports

Remember Ann Tornberg’s excessive listing of unitemized contributions? Unitemized totals far out of proportion to what the itemized contributions were?  Here’s one that’s even worse. Democratic State Representative Kevin Killer’s SD NDN Election efforts PAC:

SD NDN PAC 2014 Year end Report

Killer’s Year End PAC report noted $16,618 in itemized contributions.  And an eye-popping $136,710.54 in un-itemized contributions.  A closer look at the report provides some clues as to the source of much of this funding.   Acting as a intermediary, it would appear that most or all of this funding comes through ACT Blue:


If you look at the itemized report on the embedded pdf file above, it appears that more of the itemized contributions came from out-of-state.

The curious part is that Act Blue South Dakota IS registered as a South Dakota PAC. So… why are these donations appearing to arrive through ACT Blue coming in as individual donations, and not listed as a PAC to PAC donation?

Regardless, it looks like most of the funds raised by Killer & Act Blue went for overhead, with over $113,000 of the funds spent on Salaries, $10,221 on Travel, $6,534 for Act Blue to act as middle-man for fundraising, and $4508 on meals.


Curiously, for an organization that raised and spent as much as they did, I’d never heard of them. At the time of the pre-general report on October 24th, they had a whopping $1000 in their account. And then just like magic they claim that from October 22nd through the end of the year, they raised well over $100,000 for their efforts.

But, there are some inconsistencies that are coming up in those claims that would contradict what was reported to the Secretary of State’s office. According to the Secretary of State:

12-27-22. Persons and entities required to file campaign finance disclosure statements–Time for filing–Violation as misdemeanor. A campaign finance disclosure statement shall be filed with the secretary of state by the treasurer of every:
(1) Candidate or candidate campaign committee for any statewide or legislative office;
(2) Political action committee;
(3) Political party; and
(4) Ballot question committee.
The statement shall be signed and filed by the treasurer of the political committee or political party. The statement shall be received by the secretary of state and filed by 5:00 p.m. each February first and shall cover the contributions and expenditures for the preceding calendar year. The statement shall also be received by the secretary of state and filed by 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday prior to each primary and general election complete through the fifteenth day prior to that election. If a candidate is seeking nomination at the biennial state convention, the candidate or the candidate campaign committee shall file a campaign finance disclosure statement with the secretary of state by 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday prior to any biennial state convention. Any statement filed pursuant to this section shall be consecutive and shall cover contributions and expenditures since the last statement filed.


A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Read it here.

Notice the dollar amounts that they attribute as being raised by the South Dakota NDN Election Efforts PAC and the date in this Article from Daily KOS:

Fri Oct 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT
When Natives vote Democrats win. You can help 9 reservations in South Dakota GOTV to save the Senate
by navajoFollow for Daily Kos

GOTV takes money and there’s not much of that on the reservations, especially at Pine Ridge. Which is why Daily Kos is asking those who can afford it to contribute to this effort.

On Thursday we raised more than $12,000 of our $50,000 goal for the South Dakota NDN Election Efforts PAC to fund the efforts for Great Plains project. Today we wanna continue that effort to buy fuel for the bus, feed the drivers, buy cash cards to support the volunteers and purchase much-needed radio time to spread the word about the GOTV effort. Everyone on the rez listens to their local radio station.

Read that here. That was on the 10th…. which was before the pre-general. So, why are there no donations totalling $12,000 reflected in the report.?

And look at this at this article from Daily KOS five days later:

Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 08:28 AM PDT
Control of the Senate runs through South Dakota reservations, and you’re helping GOTV
by Meteor Blades
Five minutes before I posted this, 6,062 of you had contributed $71,730 for South Dakota NDN Election Efforts. And the thanks you get? We’ve raised the goal from $75,000 to $100,000. The money will help pay for the  enthusiastic voter registration campaign being run by the Great Plains Get Out the Native Vote on the state’s nine American Indian reservations.

Read that here.

Or this article which would be the “fifteenth day prior to that election” as cited above.

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 11:51 AM PDT
South Dakota ground game fleshes out as GOP rushes in reinforcements
by kos

Just a few moments ago, supporter #10,000 gave to the NDN Election Efforts PAC, the GOTV operation focused on American Indian reservations in the now-pivotal state of South Dakota. The $124,691 raised is slightly above my initial goal of $50,000 (which I considered overly optimistic at the time), and puts us well within reach of the PAC’s entire 2014 GOTV budget of $200,000.

South Dakota Rep. Kevin Killer, head of the PAC, sends me an update on what the fresh funds are allowing them to do.

Read that here.

The articles claim they had raised Over $12,000 on October 10th, $71,730 on October 15th, and $124,691 on October 20th – the last day that’s supposed to be included in the pre-general report. So, why does the pre-general report say on page 4 that, as of October 20th, they had only raised $1000 from an out of state PAC, and claiming that only $41.16 had been raised in unitemized funds?

That would appear to be a very well documented contradiction. By Democrats’ own reports, the funds were in-hand, and being spent during the time covered by the report to help elect Senator Rick Weiland.  But.. amazingly, none of that money is reported for the time period it they said it was raised in, via their own news reports. They only show up in they year end report due months later?

What are your thoughts? Is it time for some spot checking on reports by the Secretary of State?