Release – BY THE NUMBERS: Listening Shouldn’t Come with a Price Tag

Listening Shouldn’t Come with a Price Tag
Boards, Commissions, and Blue Ribbon Task Forces Cost Taxpayers Thousands; Noem Refuses to Add More

Each year, South Dakota taxpayers spend thousands of dollars on 134 boards, commissions, blue ribbon task forces, and similar bureaucracies, which have increased taxes and expanded government. Kristi Noem, who is committed to reducing the size and scope of government, does not believe more government is needed for people to engage with their state government.


134: Number of existing authorities, boards, commissions, councils, groups, panels, and task forces

$0.42/mile: Mileage reimbursement

$70/day: Summer hotel reimbursement; $55 for the rest of the year

$32/day: Meal stipend

$60/day: Per day per diem (although some entities offer a per diem as high as $75)

$1+ million/year: Very conservative estimate of the annual cost to taxpayers for 130+ boards, commissions, etc.

This is a key differentiator in the June 5 gubernatorial primary: “The Republican candidates for South Dakota governor take opposite sides over creating more state government boards, commissions and task forces. State Attorney General Marty Jackley plans to use them while U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem rejects them.” (Capital Journal, 4/29/18)

“Only a lawyer who’s been stuck in government for most of his career would think you can only connect with South Dakotans through another government board,” said Justin Brasell, Kristi for Governor Campaign Manager. “Kristi is not going to hide behind a board to get things done.”

As a part of her plan for South Dakota, Kristi has committed to protect South Dakota from government growth and pledged “no new boards, no new commissions, and no new blue ribbon task forces.”  Read that part of the Plan here.

Release: Judge Restrains IM26 From Placement on Ballot Pending August 1 Hearing

Judge Restrains IM26 From Placement on Ballot Pending August 1 Hearing

Sioux Falls, SD (May 21, 2018) – In a filing in South Dakota Circuit Court, South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue challenged whether proponents of Initiated Measure (IM) 26 had submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. Following the filing, Judge Patricia DeVaney entered an order restraining the Secretary of State from placing the measure on the ballot and required the Secretary of State to show cause why the order should not be absolute in a hearing scheduled for August 1 and 2, 2018. If the Judge’s order becomes permanent, IM26 will not appear before voters in the November 2018 General Election.

The primary focus of the challenge centers on the proponents’ use of petition circulators who were not South Dakota residents or who used false addresses in declaring their residency on the petitions. South Dakota law requires that circulators of petitions be residents of South Dakota. A review of the petitions submitted on IM26 revealed that some circulators either did not list a valid address or were not residents, which means the signatures they gathered should not be considered valid.

A further review of signatures submitted on the IM26 petitions revealed additional signatures that fail to qualify as valid, because the signers were not registered voters at the time they signed the petition or for other reasons that would routinely disqualify their validity. Overall, sponsors may have submitted only 8,959 valid signatures, far below the 13,871 needed to qualify this measure for the ballot.

“If the proponents of IM26 had followed South Dakota law when collecting signatures, this measure would never have qualified for the ballot,” said Sherry Kurtz-Anderson, Spokesperson for South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue.

The South Dakota Secretary of State is directed under the law to only check a random sample of signatures for validity and her process would not have uncovered every invalid signature submitted on IM26. South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue felt the additional review of the signatures and circulators was warranted following the Secretary of State’s determination that several other ballot issues proposed for the 2018 ballot failed to have enough valid signatures to qualify. The petitions submitted on IM26 had similar problems to other measures that had insufficient valid signatures to qualify.

Affidavits included in the court filing were provided by investigators who conducted research to determine whether the circulators in question were qualified residents or used false addresses in their circulation efforts. The filing also includes an affidavit describing the process used to compare each individual signature submitted to the registered voter file.

A complete copy of the court filing and the Judge’s order, including a list of the number of invalid signatures in each category is attached. Also attached is an explanation of the signature challenge process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

Conservative scorecard sponsors rank lower than most liberal Senator on own cherry-picked benchmark

The annual scorecard from the Rapid City group Citizens for Liberty, which one conservative Legislator has previously referred to as “extremely distorted” has made it’s return before the primary.  And as usual, it’s a bag of cherry-picked silliness.

Why do I say this? Because while they’re claiming these were THE conservative issues Legislators should be scored on, the Citizens for Liberty group was busy failing their own test.  While they ranked Senators based on Senate Bill 200, on the resettlement of refugees…

… curiously, they were nowhere to be found.

And when it came time to weigh in on the abortion issue they ranked Senators on…

It looks like everyone but Citizens for Liberty were there defending the rights of the unborn….

How about the freedom of speech at Universities?

Nope. Another big fat goose egg for the Citizens for Liberty.

In fact, I found that they thought only 3 of the 26 bills were used on the card important enough to show up and testify on.

(While they didn’t show up for Immigration, Abortion or Freedom of Speech, Senate Bill 150 was important enough for them to have two people there on.)

Which if I’m catching them all.. if we rank them on showing up, they’ve got a score of about 11.5% for their own scorecard, ranking them lower than the lowest ranked Senator.

Not that such hypocrisy is uncommon for Citizens for Liberty.

And lest we forget that members of the conservative group were part of the signature gathering team to place the ballot measure for the increase in cigarette taxes to fund tech schools on the ballot this past year:

Hmm… Failing their own scorecard and working to increasing taxes. They should probably pick their issues a little better next year.

And bother to show up, if they’re going to claim to set the benchmark for conservatism.

A funny thing happened to CJ Abernathey on the way to the Libertarian Nomination for Governor..    

From the SD Libertarian Party:

Libertarian Party of South Dakota


Former U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Evans announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Party nomination for governor of South Dakota on May 19.

Evans, 48, of Wessington Springs, is the elder son of the late country musician Kyle Evans, who was named the official troubadour of South Dakota’s 1989 centennial celebration and inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

Kurt Evans studied mathematics and science education at South Dakota State University, graduating with academic honors in the class of 1993. He became a high school teacher and basketball coach and was eventually certified as a highly qualified teacher for more than a hundred core content assignments.

Evans ran for United States Senate in 2002 against Democrat Tim Johnson and Republican John Thune. In 2014, he received just over 48,000 votes (20.1 percent) as the Libertarian nominee for South Dakota State Auditor.

Evans says he believes he’s uniquely qualified to help his fellow South Dakotans understand and apply the principles of constitutional liberty.

The campaign may be contacted by email at

If you recall the recent saga of Libertarian Candidate for Governor CJ Abernathey, who we were first introduced to when I pointed out he was actually not a Libertarian, after which he defeated someone who is possibly a worse human being than he is for the Libertarian nomination.. only to have his nomination de-certified because the Convention certification was not proper

Apparently party switcher Abernathey is grousing this weekend on his personal Facebook page that former Libertarian Kurt Evans is switching parties, and choosing to leave the Constitution Party to re-join the Libertarian party, and to serve as a second obstacle to Abernathey’s nomination.

Not that Libertarians are any better, but I wouldn’t want to be in the ‘robot bee’ lady’s party either.

Unlike earlier this year when Libertarians attempted a Gubernatorial nomination, Abernathey faces a far more serious challenge in Evans.   It’s not like Evans is exactly as pure as the driven snow in terms of his electability, but Evans has actually been on the ballot….  at least, when he hasn’t dropped out.

And in terms of personal presentation, Evans doesn’t present like an off-balanced Grizzly Adams with ranting 45-minute Facebook manifestos talking about such utter nuttery such as burning a flag in Marty Jackley’s parking lot, or that the constitution doesn’t exist.  Evans might stand a chance of getting invited to candidate debates in the fall, whereas if it is Abernathey, the media would start talking about thresholds of support.

Will the Libertarians vote to slide their party back to more mainstream respectability with Evans?

We’ll see when they meet at the Ft. Pierre Pizza Ranch in June.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Service and Sacrifice

Service and Sacrifice
By Sen. John Thune

While Abraham Lincoln thought “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here …,” he underestimated the importance of what would become one of the greatest speeches in American history. He didn’t expect people to remember the words he said on that Gettysburg battlefield, but he hoped they would instead remember and honor the men who gave “the last full measure of devotion” to their cause. Words matter, but it’s what they mean that truly counts.

With Memorial Day right around the corner, Lincoln’s tribute to the fallen is also a good reminder that the cause of freedom and democracy is a long road, and it continues to come at a cost – one that America has never and will never be able to fully repay. That’s why each generation of Americans is tasked with the special responsibility of ensuring that the service and sacrifice made by our men and women in uniform never goes unnoticed or unappreciated.

Congress recently helped deliver on that responsibility when it sent to the president my bill that will double the size of the Black Hills National Cemetery (BHNC) near Sturgis by permanently transferring approximately 200 acres of adjacent land to the BHNC. This is the culmination of a years-long initiative that will help to continue honoring our heroes – now and for generations to come. It’s a small, yet meaningful gesture to our service members and their families.

This has long been a priority for me, which is why I joined my South Dakota Senate colleague, Mike Rounds, and our neighbor to the west, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), whose constituents also look to the BHNC as a place to honor their loved ones, in reintroducing this bill during the first week of the 115th Congress. I’m grateful for everything Sens. Rounds and Enzi and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) did to help get this bill across the finish line.

America has been blessed by having so many brave men and women who’ve answered the call to duty throughout our history. Since the very beginning, when we fought for our independence in the Revolutionary War, there’s always been a group of freedom fighters who were willing to lay it all on the line. One of the greatest examples of this heroism is the men and women who served during World War II. Sadly, the group of soldiers who returned home from that war is only getting smaller by the day.

That’s why I was honored to have recently met a few of these South Dakota service members in Washington, D.C., including dozens from the Korea and Vietnam conflicts, at the very memorials that are dedicated to their service. I have to say, there’s nothing quite like seeing these veterans at their memorials being greeted and celebrated by Americans eight decades or more their junior. It’s a literal representation of that generational responsibility to honor these heroes and ensure they aren’t forgotten.

Whether it’s Memorial Day or Veterans Day or any day in between, we should always offer our gratitude to the people who have given the rest of us the gift of freedom and democracy. Remember those we’ve lost, and honor those who have or continue to serve. Having seen it firsthand during this recent honor flight in Washington, a simple and sincere “thank you” goes far further than you might imagine.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Showing Gratitude to South Dakota’s Veterans and Servicemembers

Showing Gratitude to South Dakota’s Veterans and Servicemembers
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Each year on Memorial Day, we honor the lives of the men and women who bravely served our country and paid the ultimate price. We can never repay them for the sacrifice they made to defend the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. We can, however, work to improve the quality of life for veterans and provide our armed forces with the resources they need to be in the strongest position possible.

I serve on both the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. We have recently been working on legislation in the Armed Services Committee to authorize funds for the defense of our nation. We call this the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, and it is one of the bills passed by Congress every year that receives widespread bipartisan support. It’s also one of the most important pieces of legislation to pass out of Congress each year because the defense of our nation remains priority number one as we seek to strengthen our military and improve readiness levels.

In an increasingly dangerous world, the United States military remains the best of the best. It’s the responsibility of Congress to make sure our armed forces have all the tools they need to defend our country and deter attacks from our enemies.

Just before Memorial Day, Congress passed legislation I introduced with Sen. John Thune and Sen. Mike Enzi to double the size of the Black Hills National Cemetery. Our bill, which will facilitate a permanent land transfer of around 200 acres from the Bureau of Land Management to the cemetery outside of Sturgis, comes after years of work.  This land in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota will be the final resting place for thousands of veterans. Passing this bill is a small way for us to show our gratitude to them and their families.

The Black Hills National Cemetery was dedicated by the Army in 1948. It was projected to run out of burial space by 2031, but this permanent land transfer will make sure generations of South Dakota veterans will have a place to rest peacefully.

It’s an honor to work on behalf of South Dakota’s servicemembers and veterans in the United States Senate. I’m committed to advancing legislation to improve veterans’ quality of life, strengthen our armed forces and cut red tape within the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you are a veteran or servicemember and have a specific question or concern, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Office phone numbers and locations can be found at


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: A Tribute to Patriots

A Tribute to Patriots
By Rep. Kristi Noem

John Ellsworth was just 13 years old when his mother met him at the door to tell him his father wasn’t coming home from war. America had lost a hero.

John’s father, Brigadier General Richard E. Ellsworth, flew 400 combat missions during World War II, earning numerous medals and proving himself as a man of great courage. He returned to the U.S. where he became wing commander of the Rapid City Air Force Base. While co-piloting a bomber during a simulated combat mission in 1953, however, his plane encountered bad weather, pushing it off course. The freezing rain and fog limited the pilot’s visibility. The plane struck a hill, killing everyone on board. A few short months after General Ellsworth was laid to rest in the Black Hills National Cemetery, President Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled to Rapid City to rename the base in his honor.

Since 1948, the Black Hills National Cemetery has been the final resting place to over 20,000 veterans and their families. It’s a place of peace, reverence, and honor. It’s a tribute to patriots and a token of gratitude for the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform.

Earlier this month, I led the House in unanimously passing a bill to add 200 acres to the Black Hills National Cemetery just outside Sturgis. The fact that the cemetery needs expansion is a testament to the astounding number of South Dakota patriots who have answered the call to serve. By increasing its current size, the cemetery can continue to serve South Dakota veterans for years to come. Getting this bill through Congress has taken years of work, but I’m thankful President Trump will have the opportunity to sign it.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of Honor Flight veterans who were about to begin their 2,000-mile pilgrimage to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.  I was awestruck by their stories and the pride they carried with them to this day as veterans of the United States military.

But I know many couldn’t be there, as they paid the ultimate sacrifice for their service to our nation. May 28 marks Memorial Day. Thousands of headstones at Black Hills National Cemetery will be adorned with American flags and flowers, including that of General Richard Ellsworth. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. These men and women are true heroes who have dedicated their lives to something bigger than themselves: freedom, patriotism, and American values. To all those who have served, thank you for doing so.

Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: $30.7 Million More To Support Education

$30.7 Million More To Support Education
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

If you’ve ever taken a course on psychology, you have probably heard of the marshmallow test. The social experiment was first initiated at Stanford in the 1960s and it involves sitting a child in a room by themselves with a marshmallow. If the child can refrain from eating the marshmallow for 15 minutes, they are then rewarded with a second marshmallow. The study found that, for the most part, the kids who were willing to wait for the second marshmallow went on to achieve better outcomes in life.

I can’t speak to whether the science behind the study is sound – or claim that I would have held off for that second marshmallow as a child – but there is no doubting the power of delayed gratification and the rewards it can bring. That’s true for us as a state as well, and the reason why we recently received payments totaling $30.7 million that will go toward education.

The majority of the funds came from previously disputed tobacco payments that have been held in an escrow account since 2004 regarding the enforcement of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was an accord between 46 states and the major cigarette manufacturers in 1998, which provides yearly payments to participating states. Some states securitized their MSA payments through issuing bonds to receive large upfront sums of cash and forgo their future payments. In many cases, states spent this one-time cash many years ago, on budget deficits or capital projects, and it is gone.

In South Dakota, we took a different approach. In 2001, the citizens passed an amendment to the South Dakota Constitution with a 72 percent “yes” vote to create the Education Enhancement Trust Fund. This constitutional amendment directed any proceeds from the MSA to the Education Enhancement Trust Fund.

The South Dakota Investment Council invests the assets of the trust. State law allows a 4 percent distribution from the trust fund to the general fund each year, without invading principal, to support education in South Dakota.

Since 2003, more than $220 million has been distributed from the trust fund to support education. During the Great Recession, the market value of the trust fund dropped below $270 million. Today, the Education Enhancement Trust Fund has more than $595 million in assets. Plus, this July 1, an additional $20.4 million will be distributed from the trust fund.

Thanks to the Investment Council and the fiscally responsible decisions of our citizens and state leaders, the annual distribution from the trust has grown every year since 2011 and is expected to continue for future generations. Meanwhile, other states have spent their tobacco funds or are receiving MSA payments that are declining.    When this $30.7 million is fully realized in the trust distribution formula, it will provide more than $1 million in additional ongoing support for education in future years.

I am grateful for all of the Investment Council’s hard work and that South Dakota is comprised of individuals willing to forgo an immediate benefit to gain even more later. In this case, the second marshmallow was really worth the wait.


Release: Former Governor Frank Farrar Endorses Marty Jackley

Former Governor Frank Farrar Endorses Marty Jackley

BRITTON, SD: South Dakota’s 24th governor has endorsed Attorney General Marty Jackley’s bid to follow in his footsteps.

Governor Frank Farrar of Britton, who also served as attorney general from 1963 to 1969, said Jackley has the right set of experiences to move South Dakota forward.

“I’ve known the Jackley family for years, and Marty has the character, the leadership skills and the passion we need in our new governor,” Farrar said. “He’s shown us he can run the attorney general’s office and balance a budget, and he’s also demonstrated throughout his career that he has an incredible heart for the people of South Dakota.”

Farrar is a South Dakota legend, having served as state’s attorney for Marshall County, attorney general and governor. He is a U.S. Army veteran, a cancer survivor and an avid athlete to this day.

“Marty Jackley has been the greatest attorney general in South Dakota history,” Farrar said. “He served as chairman of the nation’s attorneys general, and that achievement alone makes him an outstanding choice for governor.”

Jackley said that an endorsement as important as Farrar’s is a sign that his campaign is surging at the right moment.

“This endorsement has provided our campaign with incredible inspiration,” Jackley said. “Governor Farrar is very gracious to provide his support and advice, and I’m incredibly honored to have him by our side.”

“Marty is an athlete just like me,” Farrar said. “I know he has the guts and the endurance to be first across the finish line on June 5.”

Farrar’s endorsement video can be watched on youtube  or on facebook here.