Release: Rounds Secures National Defense Victories in Fiscal Year 2025 NDAA Passed by Committee

Rounds Secures National Defense Victories in Fiscal Year 2025 NDAA Passed by Committee
Bill Includes $282 million in military construction projects at Ellsworth AFB; $2.6 billion for B-21 Raider Program 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and top Republican of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, released the following statement on the committee’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25). This is the tenth NDAA that Rounds has helped craft as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. At the start of the 118th Congress, Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia’s Center for Effective Lawmaking named Rounds as the second most effective Republican on Defense issues. The FY25 NDAA now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

“The NDAA is crafted each year to authorize critical funding for our national security, as well as our service members and their families,” said Rounds. “We were successful in securing many wins for South Dakota in this bill, including $282 million in funding necessary to prepare Ellsworth Air Force Base for the bed down of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber. I am particularly pleased that this year’s NDAA includes a 4.5 percent pay raise for our men and women in uniform, as well as back pay for our military members whose promotions were impacted by holds in the Senate. We never want our men and women in uniform entering a fair fight, we always want them to have the advantage. The FY25 NDAA keeps the United States ahead of the curve, especially in regard to near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this legislation through the Senate and House and signed into law.”

Rounds’ Major National Defense Victories:

  • Fully funds the B-21 Raider program, including over $2.6 billion for procurement.
  • Secures $282 million in military construction projects to support the B-21 Raider housed at Ellsworth.
    • $44M for B21 Flight Simulator Facility Squadron Operations
    • $79M for the B-21 Alert Apron Environmental Protection Shelters
    • $54M for the other B-21 Environmental Protection Shelters
    • $105M for the B-21 Weapons Generation Facility
  • Establishes an Air Show Recruitment Pilot Program for the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide military aircraft support up to $100,000 to air shows operating in rural areas and then study their impact on recruitment.
  • Directs a report on ways to enhance B-21 environmental shelters.
  • Allows minor military construction funds to “rollover” into the next fiscal year, making it easier for installations like Ellsworth Air Force Base to complete renovation projects.
  • Includes Rounds’ bill S.3553, the Military Personnel Confirmation Restoration Act, which would provide backpay and update dates of rank and service records of officers whose promotions were delayed because of Senate holds.
  • Requires the DoD to review their war plans in light of growing cooperation between Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
  • Requires the DoD to evaluate cybersecurity products and services that protect employee’s mobile devices and evaluate networks for threats and proactively block or neutralize them.
  • Introduces language to protect artificial intelligence (AI) innovation within DoD.
  • Updates DoD’s cyber curriculum so that cyber operators are being taught and trained to respond to the latest threats using the most recent technologies and systems.
  • Strengthens oversight of the Defense Community Infrastructure Program, including ways which could help schools in military communities like the Douglas School District.
  • Requires a plan from the Army to fix the supply chain issues for smokeless gunpowder, which impacts both the military and civilian ammunition supply.
  • Includes $14.5 million for high altitude balloons and several reporting and briefing requirements to enhance their use, including the creation of a program executive officer for high altitude balloons.
  • Provides $6 million for cold spray repair and additive manufacturing technology.
  • Provides $20 million for the University Consortium for Cybersecurity.
  • Simplifies the process for vetted non-citizens with critical technical skills to join the U.S. military if they wish to serve America.
  • Creates a program to use AI to help the Defense Contract Management Agency process small business contracts to make doing business with the DoD easier.
  • Creates a program to use AI to improve workflows and operations at shipyards, depots and DoD manufacturing facilities.
  • Creates a Small Business Bill of Rights at DoD to improve the experience and quality of life of smaller companies doing business with the Department.
  • Establishes a National Security Capital Forum to allow DoD to engage with domestic and international investors so we can leverage capital markets against the Chinese Communist Party.

Rounds-Supported Cybersecurity Victories:

  • Requires a briefing on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification 2.0 implementation and launches a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to help strengthen cybersecurity in the defense industrial base.
  • Limits the use of funds for the Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture until a detailed plan for the Next Generation Architecture is provided by the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
  • Improves cybersecurity of the DoD’s networks with a Cyber Operational Readiness Assessment.
  • Improves data capability for AI tools and requires the DoD to improve the interoperability of the data used by command and control systems.
  • Requires DoD to begin working on ways to modernize software acquisition.
  • Requires the DoD to develop a roadmap for addressing cyber warfare in space.
  • Updates the education and pilot program on authentication of digital content provenance for certain DoD media content.
  • Provides employment transparency regarding individuals who perform work in the People’s Republic of China.
  • Modifies prohibition on the purchase of cyber data products or services other than through the Program Management Office for DoD-wide procurement of cyber data products and services.
  • Directs DoD to brief its development and implementation of a private AI architectural framework, including current and future use cases.
  • Reports on Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability Contracts.

Other Rounds’ Defense Victories

  • Authorizes a national defense topline increase of $25 billion, including increased procurement of combat vessels, aircraft and vehicles.
  • Authorizes funding to support a 4.5 percent pay raise for military members and a 2 percent pay raise for DoD civilian employees.
  • Requires a multi-year plan for DoD activities to support our ally Taiwan.
  • Requires a report on the military cooperation between China and Russia and the implications of this relationship on U.S. national security.
  • Promotes information sharing among DoD personnel and other federal, state and local authorities deployed at the southwest border.
  • Requires a strategy for countering drone technologies.
  • Directs a briefing on current and future capabilities to test directed energy systems.
  • Requires a report assessing the feasibility of establishing an active-duty sustainment brigade in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Requires the development of a national integrated air and missile defense architecture.
  • Requires a demonstration and assessment of the viability of using wideband adaptive signal processing technology to support simultaneous transmission and reception signals on the same electromagnetic spectrum frequency band.
  • Prohibits TRICARE from covering gender-affirming hormone therapy, puberty blockers and other medical interventions for gender dysphoria that could result in the sterilization for children under the age of 18.
  • Co-sponsored language that will enable the DoD to ramp up production and use of micronuclear reactors.
  • Co-led a provision to slow the transfer of space missions from the Air National Guard to the Space Force and will continue working to protect governors’ authorities.

Click HERE for an executive summary.

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Oh look, Minnehaha County Auditor still doing goofy things.

Minnehaha County’s “Leah Anderson show” had another wacky episode yesterday. Unfortunately, it’s not a sitcom, but is an ongoing, live performance by the Auditor of South Dakota’s largest county:

While she described them broadly to the commission, mostly focusing on what she says is a discrepancy between vote totals shown in the official vote count compared to the audit logs, Anderson has made it clear in multiple interviews that she believes Minnehaha County’s votes in the 2020 election could have been altered by an algorithm intended to harm Republicans’ chances in elections around the country.

and..

Commissioner Joe Kippley, who has been critical of Anderson’s actions in the past, was not as approving. He said if Anderson’s goal was to increase faith in elections, it was “irresponsible” of her to put out “half-baked information” that she herself seemed to be saying was only partial without checking physical records.

Kippley pointed to the budget meeting the commission would be having later that day, saying that it would not be acceptable to show half of a budget presentation, say that millions of dollars were missing and say with a “wink wink nod nod” that perhaps something untoward had happened. He added he did not consider a screenshot of a spreadsheet she had provided to be a “smoking gun.”

and..

Anderson has said she doesn’t completely understand the issues laid out by O’Donnell, but has signaled that she believes in the algorithm theory, telling conservative TV host Brannon Howse, “The other issue is what appears to be the same algorithm as the Mesa 3.”

Read it all here.

Can they get this kook out of there already?

Attorney General Jackley Joins State Attorneys General Opposing Gag Order Against Former President Trump

Attorney General Jackley Joins State Attorneys General Opposing Gag Order Against Former President Trump

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that he has joined a 24-state coalition urging the courts to deny a Special Prosecutor’s request for a gag order against former President Trump.

The Special Prosecutor has requested a gag order that prohibits former President Trump from criticizing the raid of his Mar-a-Lago home. The states argue that the gag order is unclear, infringes on former President Trump’s free speech rights, and interferes with American voters’ rights to hear what their candidate has to say leading into an election.

 “In all my years as a U.S. Attorney, South Dakota Attorney General, and State’s Attorney, I have never asked for a gag order on any defendant regardless of what a defendant said about me or the process,” said Attorney General Jackley. “We don’t do this in America — it’s called free speech and free elections.”

Other Attorney Generals joining the coalition are from: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the full amicus brief here. 

Rounds Launches Effort to Get Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for Beef in the Farm Bill


Rounds Launches Effort to Get Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for Beef in the Farm Bill

Asks Senate Colleagues to Join Him, Deadline to Sign is June 24

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today launched a nationwide effort to support American farmers and ranchers by including Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) in the 2024 Farm Bill.

As the deadline for the Farm Bill approaches on September 30, different policy frameworks have been unveiled by each party in both the House and the Senate, with the House framework already having passed through the House Agriculture Committee. Producers from South Dakota and across the nation have expressed strong support for including a MCOOL solution in the Farm Bill.  

 MCOOL was originally passed in the 2002 Farm Bill but then repealed in 2015 by Congress due to Canada and Mexico filing disputes with the World Trade Organization. A report done before the 2015 repeal showed 90% of consumers favored requiring food sellers to indicate on the package label the country of origin of fresh meat.

A majority of products imported into the United States have to disclose the item’s country of origin to the consumer. Currently, country of origin labeling laws apply to agricultural food products like lamb, goat, chicken, venison, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng.

Rounds is inviting Senate colleagues to join his letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee requesting that they add MCOOL to the framework for the 2024 Farm Bill. Rounds is also requesting that farm and ranch advocacy groups call on their Senators to join him on this effort. The deadline to sign on to the letter is June 24.

“It is past time to reinstate mandatory country of origin labeling for beef,” said Rounds. “U.S. farmers and ranchers work hard to produce high-quality products for their fellow Americans. They deserve to have their beef differentiated from foreign-made product. Consumers want to be able to purchase beef born, raised and processed in the United States without wondering if it’s secretly coming from a foreign country. I encourage my colleagues to join me in the fight to get MCOOL included in our next farm bill.” 

BACKGROUND:

Rounds has been a vocal supporter of MCOOL since he first started in the Senate in 2015. Rounds also led the congressional effort to close the ‘Product of USA’ labeling loophole. He first introduced legislation in October 2019 that would make certain the ‘Product of USA’ label is only applied to beef products born, raised and slaughtered in the United States. Following years of work, in March 2024, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a rule defining that the “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” labels can only be applied to meat, poultry and egg products that are born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States.

Read the full text of the letter below.

+++

Dear Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman:

American farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality beef products in the world. Consumers and producers across the nation recognize this fact and are in search of additional market integrity. Therefore, we believe it is past time to reinstate mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef. As the Senate Agriculture Committee develops a new Farm Bill, we believe it is necessary to work towards a feasible MCOOL solution.

For almost a century, U.S. trade law has required the majority of imported products to bear a country of origin label. Americans recognize the clear benefits of consumer labeling laws and regularly use this information when making important purchasing decisions. Yet as you know, a number of agricultural commodities have been excluded from country of origin labeling requirements. In response, a broad coalition of producer and consumer groups worked to incorporate retail-level MCOOL in the 2002 Farm Bill.

Following the successful implementation of MCOOL, producers and consumers enjoyed a short-lived period of marketplace transparency. This change applied the same country of origin labeling standards to beef as the majority of other consumer goods sold in America. Unfortunately, a coalition of large meatpacking companies and foreign beef interests worked to repeal MCOOL. After Canada and Mexico filed a dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO), Congress officially rescinded the law in 2015.

Since the repeal of MCOOL, American cattle producers have experienced significant market fluctuations. Concurrently, the largest meat packers have realized immense profits through the use of forward contracting and formula-based sales. While cattle prices are currently on the rise, it is evident producers will again encounter market disruptions. As farmers and ranchers deal with a volatile market, it is imperative the federal government work to provide a level playing field. This can be achieved through supporting additional transparency in our beef labeling system.

Our American farmers and ranchers work hard to provide the safest and best tasting beef in the world. Producers of foreign beef should not receive an unfair advantage when engaging in our domestic markets, especially as our competitors do not always meet American animal health and consumer safety standards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent “Product of the USA” final rulemaking is a step in the right direction, but there is more work to be done.

Without a reasonable solution to the MCOOL question, hardworking American farmers and ranchers will continue to be put at a disadvantage. It is our hope Congress will use the Farm Bill to address this pressing issue. This would entail using the legislation to require U.S. trade leaders to develop a WTO compliant means of reimplementing MCOOL.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you as we move closer to finalizing the upcoming Farm Bill.

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As they tumble nearly 20% in polls, Life Defense Fund reports consultant costs of 51%, with Legislator & Co-Chair Jon Hansen one of them

As the financials for South Dakota Right to Life (SDRTL) and its affiliated Political Action Committee have come under fire for spending thousands to attack legislators the group had rated as supporting SDRTL’s positions 100% over the last two legislative sessions, more focus is coming on Jon Hansen, a central figure in the anti-abortion movement in South Dakota. Hansen serves as vice president of the board of South Dakota Right to Life and is co-chair of the Life Defense Fund.

With all the money flowing into the Life Defense fund to fight Constitutional Amendment “G” to force the most liberal abortion laws in the nation of abortion onto South Dakota, why are they crashing in the polls before the fight has even begun?

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I …have not accepted, nor will I accept or receive directly or indirectly, any money, pass, or any other valuable thing, from any corporation, company or person, for any vote or influence I may give or withhold on any bill or resolution, or appropriation, or for any other official act.”

Article III, Section 8, South Dakota Constitution
South Dakota Legislative Oath of Office.

LEGISLATOR LEADING EFFORT AGAINST MEASURE IN LEGISLATURE ALSO PAID CONSULTANT

In January, the leader of the Life Defense Fund State Representative Jon Hansen introduced and led House Bill 1244 in an attempt to stymie the petition circulators of a pro-choice measure who wished to enshrine abortion in the South Dakota State Constitution. Hansen claimed and testified as to circulation irregularities:

The bill was the brainchild of Rep. Jon Hansen, who is leading the effort to block a proposed amendment to the constitution that would substantially expand access to abortion in South Dakota.

An emergency clause in the legislation would make it so that it would apply to that effort – spearheaded by Dakotans for Health.

Read that here.

What no one had noticed at the time is that Representative Hansen was not just leading the Life Defense Fund, but the prime sponsor of House Bill 1244 had apparently been receiving income from the group:

In January of 2023, as part of his “Conflict of Interest/Statement of Financial Interest” as an elected official, Hansen disclosed that he was not just co-chair of the Life Defense Fund but disclosed he befitting financially as co-chair/consultant for the organization. He also reiterated that he was receiving funds from the group again in 2024 as part of his “Conflict of Interest” candidate statement.

On both documents, officeholders and candidates are required to disclose “any source of funds” that “contribute more than 10% or more than $2000 to their family’s gross income in the preceding calendar year.”

How much is Hansen receiving as an advocate for the Life Defense Fund? It’s hard to cite a specific amount. Unfortunately, with South Dakota’s fairly lackadaisical campaign finance reporting laws, we’re only allowed a glimpse of the broad category of consulting, as opposed to knowing the specific amount that Hansen is pocketing for his Co-Chairmanship & Consultancy.

In their last 2 campaign finance reports, the group reports expenditures of $209,294.36 in their year-end report, and $69,201.16 in their pre-primary report.  Of those expenditures, across both reports the Life Defense fund notes consulting expenses totaling $142,430.44 of the $278,495.52 they’ve spent in the last 18 months. Or, 51.14%.

Life Defense Fund Year End … by Pat Powers

Over fifty cents of every dollar reported in those reports as being spent by the Life Defense Fund is going out for consulting, as Jon Hansen self-disclosed himself as a consultant receiving renumeration from the organization.

“..any interpretation of Article 3, Section 12 should err on the side of taxpayer protection against legislative conflicts and not on the side of monetary gain for members of the legislature.”

– Representative Jon Hansen
Supreme Court Brief, filed 12/15/2023

PAST CONFLICTS OF INTEREST HAVE RAISED SOUTH DAKOTAN’S IRE

As Hansen’s paid advocacy appears to have more than a passing relation to his efforts in priming and passing House Bill 1244, we have to pause and reflect back on how past conflicts have been viewed.

Some of us can go back and remember one of the incidents that helped propel now Governor Kristi Noem into the greater statewide public view, raising her profile before her bid for Congress in 2010:

During the committee’s discussion about the bill, Noem said Heidepriem’s law firm is representing “someone looking for expansion of gaming in the state.”

“I would believe there are other motivating factors here. There are ties that haven’t come to light yet,” she said.

And..

He further wrote that he was “disappointed” that Noem suggested he was trying to advance the interest of a client.

“In the future, if you have concerns about my ethics, you might consider inquiring of me privately, to avoid suggesting unfounded allegations against a fellow legislator in public, and to spare yourself any appearance of inappropriate partisanship,” Heidepriem’s letter concluded.

Read that story here.

Scott Heidepreim came under then State Rep. Kristi Noem’s fire back in 2009 for introducing legislation which appeared might possibly benefit one of his law firm’s clients. And it received plenty of press back in the day.

15 years later when State Representative Jon Hansen is very openly and actively trying to block an opponent on a ballot measure, no one seems to have has raised any concern over the conflict between his position as the public leader of a ballot measure committee and his work as a legislator.

And now we find that part of his leadership was defined and disclosed as paid work during the time he was introducing legislation to benefit their effort.

WHAT HAS THE LIFE DEFENSE FUND ACCOMPLISHED? PR FAILURES AND AMENDMENT G SURGING IN THE POLLS.

Despite having Hansen, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, leading and passing a bill to give the ability to directly attack the signature collection process (in theory), in practice the implementation ended up resulting in a PR disaster. In one instance, the calls triggered Secretary of State Monae Johnson to refer to calls coming from the group labeling them as “a scam,” as detailed in a story from SD Searchlight:

The callers were contacting people who had signed a petition to place an abortion-rights measure on the ballot in the Nov. 5 election. The phone operation was part of a coordinated attempt to gather information for a legal challenge to the petition, and to inform people that they could withdraw their signatures.

Johnson’s news release said callers were “impersonating” her staff and “trying to pressure voters into asking that their name be removed” from the petitions.

Read the entire story here.

Hansen vehemently denied the label of it being a scam and attacked the Secretary of State, declaring that “by labeling our lawful activity as a scam, Secretary of State Johnson has done significant and irreversible damage to the pro-life movement in South Dakota.”

The Attorney General investigated and determined that he did not believe that any misunderstanding of the calls had been intentional, but conceded that in practice, it could have been a communication issue for Hansen’s group. But it also gave opponents fodder:

“Could they have been reading the script too fast?” Jackley said. “Possibly.”

and..

Dakotans for Health Chairman Rick Weiland described the phone campaign as unethical.

“We knew all this would happen once that signature removal bill passed,” Weiland said. “They did and continue to misrepresent the ballot measure.”

Read that here.

How have South Dakotans viewed the proposed abortion measure Amendment G as all of this has been taking place?

In November of 2023, a joint poll of 500 residents conducted by SD News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy at USD asked people whether they would support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would allow for abortions during the first trimester. The results indicated that 45.6% supported the amendment, 43.6% opposed it, and 10.8% were undecided.

Fast forward to May of 2024. An identical survey was conducted. The results? 53.4% now are said to support Amendment G. 35.4% oppose it. And a higher number – 11.2% – are undecided.

As reported, a nearly 20-point margin shift in 4 months has taken place in favor of Amendment G, while during the same period of time the ballot measure committee opposing it – the Life Defense Fund – has done nothing but flail in their attempts to attack the petitioning process.

And that poll was taken about a week before the flurry of negative press.

WHERE DO AMENDMENT “G” OPPONENTS GO NOW?

Recent news reports indicate that the Life Defense Fund intends to attempt a legal challenge against the validity of the petitions over the manner in which signatures were gathered, claiming that signatories were deceived, re-running the same allegations in court that they were unable to gain any headway with after they received passage of House Bill 1244, their signature challenge bill.

Well, good luck with that.

In South Dakota, the Supreme Court has traditionally taken the position to let the people decide, as opposed to overturning ballot measures in progress, especially given the short timeframe between the time petitions are filed and validated and the fall election, leaving almost no time for a deep examination of allegations that the people attempting to block such petitions make.

With the hostility that some in the pro-life movement have exhibited against a number of elected officials who had stood with them on the life issue – as recently chronicled by long-time legislator Lee Schoenbeck –  and others calling for “a trustworthy new option” for pro-life minded supporters, the anti-abortion movement finds itself going into the fall election completely fractured. A number of high-profile pro-life advocates want to oppose the effort, but given the players leading the game, they’re taking their ball and looking for a new field to play in.

As illustrated by the surging poll numbers in favor of the amendment, if trends continue and are unable to be arrested by what to date has been Jon Hansen’s ham-handed campaign that can’t shoot straight, it does not bode well for South Dakota’s pro-life movement.

At this rate, when the November election rolls around, South Dakota may find itself as host to the strongest pro-choice laws in the nation enshrined in our State Constitution.

Guest Column: Right to Life took Pro-Life donations to oppose 100% Pro-Life Legislators by Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck

RIGHT TO LIFE TOOK PRO-LIFE DONATIONS TO OPPOSE 100% PRO-LIFE LEGISLATORS
By Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck

In the early 1980’s Ruth Karim, one of the founders of South Dakota Right to Life, asked me to serve on their Board of Directors. I was honored to accept, which makes me one of the oldest (since service) surviving members of that board. You can imagine my shock and disappointment when I saw the SD Right to Life logo on campaign literature against two 100% SDRTL voting record House members: Mike Derby and Becky Drury. This misuse of donor funds, and SDRTL’s venture into being an attack group on 100% pro-life SDRTL voting record legislators inspired this article. We donors need to know that SDRTL is no longer using our funds to protect our state’s most vulnerable children, the unborn.

Sadly, they are doing this at a point in time when we need to instead be all hands-on deck fighting the pro-abortion ballot measure. Their actions make no sense.

My Bona Fides

Since this article draws on history and will likely inspire attacks by those supporting and encouraging the misuse of our pro-life donations, indulge a moment to comment on my qualifications to comment.

I don’t pay attention to ratings, but pretty sure for all the years SDRTL did ratings during my 14 sessions, I would have had a 100% rating.

In 2004 Rep Matt McCaulley introduced South Dakota’s first effort at an abortion ban, HB 1191. I was the prime Senate sponsor. There’s a great article Leslie Unruh wrote about how I got the bill through the senate 18-17 when I really only had 17 votes. This was in a time when abortion legislation fights were real.

In 2005 Rep Joel Dykstra introduced our current trigger law, HB 1249. I was a Senate co-sponsor and handled the floor debate.

I can’t claim to solely have the strongest pro-life record in the legislature. As you will see below, Sen Hunhoff and soon-to-be- again Rep Keri Weems have comparable records.

RIGHT TO LIFE TOOK PRO-LIFE DONATIONS TO OPPOSE 100% PRO-LIFE LEGISLATORS

According to recent campaign finance reports, SDRTL’s Board of Directors transferred $10,000 of donor funds to SDRTL’s PAC. The only other funds received by their PAC was $100 personally from Dale Bartscher.

Donors, like myself, would assume these funds were to concentrate on the pro-abortion ballot issue we face in November. But, NO. Dale Bartscher and his Board diverted those donor funds for a very different purpose – and it is all public record.

The board diverted donor funds to 16 races, of which only 3 were incumbents! 13 challengers, with no proven record of handling our pro-life battles, received our donor dollars.

SDRTL PAC 2024 PRE-PRIMARY Report on Scribd

Ten 100% pro-life voting record legislators were opposed by SD Right To Life, in spite of being PERFECT PROVEN pro-life public servants:

  1. Representative Steph Sauder of Hamlin County has a 100% rating, and she was the top target of SDRTL in her senate race! Why you say? SDRTL diverted our donor dollars to help one of their board members, in spite of Steph Sauder having a perfect pro-life voting record.
  2. Senator Erin Tobin, with a 100% pro-life voting record, and a nurse practitioner who worked with other legislators to try and position South Dakota to beat the abortion ballot issue (the one SDRTL was stealing funds from working against).
  3. Senator Mike Walsh not only has a 100% pro-life voting record, he carried these life defining and pro-life attributes: American veteran, spouse of active military and retired respected law enforcement officer. Sounds like our perfect senator – SDRTL spent money to beat him!
  4. Representative Brian Mulder carried a 100% pro-life voting record and has been an assistant pastor at Central Baptist in Sioux Falls. SDRTL spent money to beat him, and former Rep Keri Weems (see that odd story below).
  5. In a Sioux Falls District, where we pro-lifers had the benefit of two incumbent 100% pro-life voting incumbents, Representatives Greg Jamison and Amber Arlint, SDRTL spent money to beat them! This is about as perfect of an example of SDRTL going to the dark side, except there are at least two districts where they were stronger in their anti-life actions!
  6. Representative Tony Venhuizen has a 100% pro-life voting record, and SDRTL spent money to try and beat him. In that race, newcomer Brad Jankord was also pro-life, but SDRTL opposed him too !
  7. In Yankton, Representative Mike Stevens, the House Speaker Pro Tempore has a 100% pro-life voting record as defined by SDRTL, but still they spent money to beat him
  8. In Rapid City, two incumbents, Representatives Mike Derby and Becky Drury both had a 100% pro-life voting record as determined by SDRTL. Under those circumstances, donors like me would say, easy call: Derby and Drury. We would be wrong, SDRTL spent donor dollars to oppose both 100% pro-life voting record representatives.  Donors did not give SDRTL money all these years for them to oppose pro-life public servants.

SD RIGHT TO LIFE’s WORK AGAINST OUR PRO-LIFE CAUSE WAS EVEN WORSE THAN IT LOOKS

It appears the SDRTL didn’t care where our real pro-life legislator strength lies.

For example, they spent our donor dollars to beat Keri Weems, US Senator John Thune’s sister-in-law. Keri was previously in the legislature. If Jon Hansen, Dale Bartscher and Fred Deutsch knew how to turn on a computer, they would have seen that Rep Keri Weems was a cosponsor of our abortion ban bill in 2004 and of Rep Dykstra’s trigger bill (our current pro-life law) in 2005. When there were real fights, she was our pro-life warrior – and SDRTL wants to keep her out of the legislature!

Another great example is Jim Halverson, who SDRTL spent hard to beat. Most real pro-lifers know that Sen Harold Halverson would be on a list of top ten pro-life heroes to serve in Pierre. His SON, Jim shares his father’s values. Yet, SDRTL spent our donor dollars to beat the next generation of our best.

The most egregious misuse of donor dollars was in Yankton. Objectively, Senator Jean Hunhoff is the longest tenured 100% dependable pro-life vote in the Capitol. A very unusual House candidate in Yankton spent a serious amount of time attacking Jean and recruiting an opponent for Jean. Given that Jean has objectively cast more pro-life votes for us and was a co-sponsor of our abortion ban and Rep Dykstra’s trigger law, you would expect her to be the biggest benefactor of SDRTL’s gifts of our donor dollars. You would be wrong. She received ZERO.  The House member attacking her? Zero? Nope! Jean’s attacker made the category for the third largest checks of our donor dollars. If you are in Yankton and see the Hunhoff families at mass, how do you reconcile sending funds to an organization attacking their family member’s faith filled public service?

Lastly, many pro-life donors like and respect US Congressman Dusty Johnson. He is a solid pro-life vote in the Congress. I can think of many Mitchell and Pierre area pro-life supporters that love Dusty Johnson. Remember the nasty campaign run against him two years ago, where Taffy Howard took $500,000 of dark money to smear Dusty’s character in the last month of the campaign? Still, a majority of South Dakotans voting Republicans told Taffy Howard’s lie-filled campaign to get lost.

This year the senate race in Rapid featured pro-life Republican Jason Green, a mild, life-long Hills resident, versus the rejected Taffy Howard. Guess where SDRTL put their money? Yup, they went with the nasty campaigner that’s to this day obsessed with hating Dusty Johnson. Not sure which version of Christian life that SDRTL board reads about, but that nasty lady isn’t any part of the New Testament. Ask the pro-lifers in Pierre and Mitchell that know Dusty and his family.

SO WHAT IS GOING ON? WHY DID SD RIGHT TO LIFE QUIT BEING PRO-LIFE ADVOCATES?

I’m going to write a longer piece on this subject soon, but the answer is very clear. Follow the donor dollars that were diverted from fighting the ballot measure. All of the money went to people on the extreme end of the political spectrum. Only candidates that would support the political careers of Jon Hansen, Fred Deutsch, Scott Odenbach and Spencer Gosch were worthy of seeing our misappropriated donor dollars.

What these people have done with our donor dollars is much worse than this looks. We always were about pro-life. Now, SDRTL spends our dollars to oppose 100% pro-life public servants. Only those that are part of the “tin foil hat” world view, so they will support Jon Hansen for Speaker and Scott Odenbach for Majority Leader, were deemed worthy of getting our misappropriated funds.

We pro-lifers, that aren’t part of the “tin foil hat” world need a place to send our funds in support of the sanctity of life. There are thousands of us in South Dakota. Hopefully a trustworthy new option will surface. We still have much work to do to reach the hearts and minds across our whole state on the sanctity of human life. Time to go hug our kids and grandkids and pray for our future.

Republican State Senator Lee Schoenbeck is currently President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, and has a total of 14 years’ service in the South Dakota Legislature.

Democrats talk Lawrence County man into running for PUC

I wasn’t sure, as it hadn’t appeared in any social media at all, but it appears the Democrats were able to successfully talk someone into running for the public utilities commission.

Forrest Wilson has been nominated to represent the South Dakota Democratic Party in November’s general election, earning the support of party delegates during the Democratic state convention held Saturday in Oacoma.

and..

Wilson, unopposed within the party for the nomination, hails from Lawrence County and is active in the county’s Democratic Party. According to state records, the Lead resident is a former employee of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation and now serves as a director at the Boys and Girls Club of Lead-Deadwood.

Read the entire story here.

Forrest will “run Forrest run” against current Republican utilities commissioner Kristi Fiegen. Libertarian Gideon Oakes has also indicated that he will be seeking his parties nomination for the fall election.

Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: STRENGTHENING SERVICE

BIG Update

Only 32% of current military families would recommend that a family member or friend join the military. Unfortunately, our servicemembers’ quality of life has declined, causing low morale and stress. They’ve struggled with the high inflation and housing costs that have continued to rise in this economy. This is not the treatment our military men and women deserve.

I voted to pass the annual defense bill which will improve servicemembers’ quality of life by improving their housing, access to health care, support for their spouses, and boosting compensation. Specifically, junior enlisted servicemembers will receive a 19.5% pay raise. This is great news for our armed forces.

The annual defense bill also strengthens our national security by deterring China, defending Israel, and securing our southern border. It also included two of my policies to crack down on China and safeguard our supply chains. One provision would investigate China’s unfair pricing in global shipping markets and the other works to counter China’s monopoly of shipping container production.

A fair and functioning supply chain is necessary to ensure our national defense, both within our country and globally. These provisions will strengthen America on the world stage and stifle China’s agenda.

BIG Idea

When you think of public transit, you typically think of trains or buses in bigger cities. However, the services that rural transit providers offer are used heavily by older or disabled individuals, helping folks get to and from medical appointments and errands. I spoke with a panel of transportation leaders on what challenges rural providers face and how to ensure rural South Dakotans have access to these necessary services.

BIG News

The aviation industry is flying towards a more sustainable future. From sustainable aviation fuel to Advanced Air Mobility and hydrogen aviation, there are a lot of new technologies emerging that will improve air travel. I launched the Congressional Sustainable Aviation Caucus with Representative Sharice Davids to facilitate conversations between members and industry leaders regarding fuel supply resiliency, new innovations, and national security.

Transportation & Infrastructure Veterans

Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Father’s Day: Shining a Light on the Fatherless

Father’s Day: Shining a Light on the Fatherless
By: Governor Kristi Noem
June 14, 2024

This week I had the opportunity to spend time with a group of people who are involved with our Foster Care system and some of the young people who participate in it. Our Secretary of Social Services invited me to attend, as the day was facilitated by his wonderful staff. When I walked into the gym, I was suddenly stuck by the number of young people in the room who were 14-17 years old and were there to learn how to prepare to live independently. Some had foster families caring for them, but many are currently living in group homes in communities throughout the state. I could tell that many of them must have been thinking, “this lady has no idea who I am or even cares.” I saw crossed arms, hard faces, and even some anger.

I started to speak to the group about how I had no idea what their current situation was or what challenges they had faced already in their young lives. I knew many of them have suffered loneliness, loss of family, addiction, or even abuse. Some may never return to their homes for different reasons and may never be adopted before turning 18 years old.

I told them I had no idea what it was like to be them or what their days were like, but that my name was Kristi, I have a husband named Bryon, three kids, and three grandbabies. I told them I grew up with a foster brother, had spent a lot of time with kids in their situation over my lifetime, have spent more years living without my dad than I had with him, and have faced family conflict and difficulties. The room started to grow quiet as I began to tell them the story of a pearl.

Years ago, I met a women named Shari who owned a pearl store. When I asked her why, she informed me that pearls are the only precious gem that is created by a living creature. That makes it unique and special. Pearls are created by oysters who get sand or grit into their shell, and it begins to irritate the soft tissue inside. It can be hurtful, painful, and very uncomfortable for the oyster. But over time, the oyster goes through a process where it takes that hurt and turns it into something beautiful – something precious.

I told them that my prayer was that whatever hard thing they had faced in their lives, whatever challenge they have gone through or will go through, that they will work to turn it into something that can be for good. Maybe even beautiful or precious. That it would build in them a compassion for other people and encourage them to serve others, which is what God created us all for.

When we are focused on other people, we are often happier and have better perspective on our own problems.  All these kids have dreams, and I encouraged them keep going – that their success, despite the hard things they have gone through, will be a source of incredible hope to others who find themselves in similar situations. Hope is what people need. Hope is not wishful thinking – it is optimism with a plan.

After I spoke with these young people, I spent some time with their caseworkers and caregivers. I’m so grateful for every one of these adults who dedicate their lives to working with these kids. Hearing their stories at times was heartbreaking, but I thought of how one person could impact their lives by mentoring, spending time, being a friend, or even a mom or a dad to them. I left with a lot of “what ifs” running through my mind. “What if” they each just had one adult who decided to be there for them besides their case worker?  “What if” they could go home to a healed family? “What if” a church, or better yet, ALL churches, decided this was their mission, to be fathers to the fatherless, wrap their arms around these kids, love them, and show up? It would be miraculous – life changing!

This Father’s Day, I am grateful for the wonderful father my children have been blessed with and all the fathers in our family. But I am also going to do all I can to try to shine a light on what every person, including myself, can do this Father’s Day for those who may not have one. May God richly bless you and your family and give you a heart for those around you who need you in their lives.

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Argus Leader posts (another) scathing article anout Minnehaha County Auditor Leah Anderson

It all seems to be crashing down for Minnehaha County Auditor Leah Anderson this weekend, as she continues to be under fire from all sides.

Of course, she’s brought it on herself by possibly being the worst, in terms of promoting election conspiracies, and denying voters the right to vote. The latest? The Argus Leader has posted an article (another article) with scathing criticism of what she’s actually using her office for:

Anderson claimed to have found “drastic differences” in vote percentages between in-person and absentee voting, “concerning” patterns in military absentee voting and “alarming” discrepancies between the official record of votes and the audit logs.

Anderson has released no evidence of any of these claims outside of the press release, and in the last two days has agreed to, rescheduled and eventually declined an interview with the Argus Leader about the claims, citing a heavy workload and deadlines for a post-election audit, which she is expected to discuss with the Minnehaha County Commission next Tuesday.

But since the press release, Anderson has found time to appear on multiple right-wing internet programs, including a conversation with election denier and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, where she has connected her concerns about Minnehaha County elections to a theory that claims an algorithm is being used to alter absentee ballots.

She said she was aided by analysis from a “data expert,” who believes that “the United States of America was the victim of a coordinated multi-state conspiracy to defraud the 2020 General Election.”

Read that all here.

And it goes downhill from there.