Let me make sure I’m understanding this.
Sioux Falls City Councilor Janet Brekke – a former Sioux Falls City Attorney – is seeking legal guidance regarding Sioux Falls city councilors endorsing candidates in the city election… just like others did for her when she first ran?
Councilor Janet Brekke wants some legal guidance on what she calls “an ethical minefield” when it comes to politicians using their influence and money in city elections.
The first-term at-large councilor this week filed paperwork with the City Attorney’s Office asking for an advisory opinion from the Sioux Falls Board of Ethics on whether public officials can support other Sioux Falls office seekers using their official titles, political action committees and hosting fundraisers.
In 2016, then-candidate Theresa Stehly used an endorsement from the late Kermit Staggers on campaign mailers she sent out, which included his title as city councilor. And last year, Councilor Christine Erickson used her title in a campaign fundraising announcement for Alex Jensen, who is running for Stehly’s seat in this year’s election. She also made a campaign contribution to Jensen.
Brekke herself received a $300 donation from Stehly in her 2018 campaign, which is noted in her request for an advisory opinion.
There’s an ethical minefield here? I’m not sure what would be unethical about city councilors expressing their constitutional right to free speech..
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That’s a pretty simple concept, which is also a position advocated by Sioux Falls City Councilor Christine Erickson in the article. Not sure why a person with a law degree needs a panel to weigh in on it to figure it out.
It was legal when she and others did it. It’s legal for others. (Let freedom ring!)