So, will Hawks pretend to be Republican-y again to try to gain votes?

I had forgotten about this until one until I started doing a search of campaign finance reports.  If you recall long, long ago during the races of 2012….  Long before we elected Mike Rounds to the US Senate, and no one had any idea who Annette Bosworth was…

As I chronicled in November 2012, a pair of postcards his mailboxes right before the election in the District where Stace Nelson was running, as well as District 9, where Paula Hawks was running, where a Democrat front group – in an attempt to make their party’s candidates – made them try to seem more “Republican-y”:

Who was one of the people behind all of this?  Now Democrat Congressional Candidate Paula Hawks.

As you can see, and as I chronicled back then, Paula Hawks fully contributed half of the funds for the project out of her political campaign account.

It probably doesn’t mean much at this point in the campaign. But as it gets down to the wire, it might be an indicator of the type of deception and dirty tricks we might expect to come out of the Hawks campaign.

Release: Rounds Returns From Trip to Middle East

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateRounds Returns From Trip to Middle East

PIERRE—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday returned from a weeklong trip to Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Afghanistan to discuss national security issues with U.S. and foreign leaders in the Middle East. The trip, which was led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), also included Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.).

During their trip, the lawmakers met with U.S. troops, military leaders and political leaders to review regional issues and the counter-ISIL campaign. In addition to visiting with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from their respective states, the Members met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, KRG President Masoud Barzani, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Rounds will discuss his trip further during his weekly media call with South Dakota reporters on Thursday.



Family Heritage Alliance releases 2015 State Legislative Scorecard.

The South Dakota Family Heritage Alliance has released their 2015 Scorecard for both the South Dakota State House and the State Senate.

Several legislators topped the measure at 100%; Senators Cammack, Haggar, Monroe, Omdahl, Otten & Bill Van Gerpen. In the House, Representative Scott Craig, Don Haggar, Steve Haugaard, Latterell, Novstrup, and Qualm all earned 100% as well.

2015 SD Family Heritage Alliance Scorecard

Who found themselves on the other end of things? In the Senate, Angie Buhl-O’Donnell and Larry Tidemann tied at 36.36% as having the low marks for the group’s scorecard in that chamber.

In the House, Peggy Gibson was unmatched at her 11.76% ranking for the low mark for the group in the lower chamber, voting only twice with the group in 17 bills used to rank her vote, and against them the other 15.

In comparison, the lowest ranked House Republicans – Alex Jensen and Dan Dryden supported the group’s position on measures 47.06% of the time, showing far more support than most Democrats, many of which ranked in the thirties (Hawks 38.6, Hawley 33.33) or lower (Karen Soli 29.1).

And you can read more about it here.

What do you think?

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Conservation Reserve Program Critical to the Future of Pheasant Hunting

thuneheadernew Conservation Reserve Program Critical
to the Future of Pheasant Hunting
By Sen. John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressIf you asked someone to name their favorite time of year, you might hear Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July. Don’t be surprised, though, if you posed the same question to a South Dakotan and they tell you it’s the third weekend in October – the traditional opening of pheasant season. For many South Dakotans, opening weekend truly is a holiday that brings friends and families together for fun and fellowship, as well as the anticipation of bagging a few pheasants.

To prepare for all that comes with pheasant season, hotels, cafes, hardware and sporting goods stores plan months in advance to accommodate all who come to South Dakota to experience hunting in the “pheasant capital of the world.” After all, pheasant hunting contributes $250 million to South Dakota’s economy. That boost to the economy is important, but without the pheasants, there’s no pheasant hunting, and nothing contributes more to South Dakota’s pheasant population than the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

First authorized during the Reagan presidency in the 1985 farm bill, CRP was created primarily to discourage overproduction of grain and protect marginal land by offering farmers ten-year easements on highly erodible land planted to permanent vegetative cover. Thirty years later, CRP has evolved into a 20+ million acre program that saves millions of tons of soil from erosion and improves water quality every year. I believe South Dakota pheasants would agree that CRP provides some of the best habitat to nest in and raise their young; and South Dakota pheasant hunters would agree that CRP can be one of the best places to flush a wily rooster.

Not only does CRP provide farmers a sound economic alternative to placing expensive seed, fertilizer, and chemicals on high-risk marginal land, but CRP’s nearly 930,000 acres of wildlife habitat in South Dakota also contribute greatly to rural economies by producing pheasants, deer, turkeys, waterfowl, and nongame wildlife species.

On December 23, 2015, CRP will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Having served on the House Agriculture Committee and now the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have helped draft three farm bills, which cover nearly half of CRP’s lifespan, and I have made certain in each farm bill that CRP continues to offer sound economic, environmental, and wildlife benefits. CRP plays a significant role in the success of South Dakota’s rural economy, and I am not only grateful for what CRP does, but also for the farmers who enroll in the program and provide the wildlife habitat so our hunting traditions can continue for many years to come.


Us Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Native American Day

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateNative American Day
By Senator Mike Rounds
Oct. 16, 2015

In South Dakota, we celebrate Native American Day rather than the federal holiday known as Columbus Day.  This historic state holiday originated in 1990 when Governor George S. Mickelson and members of the nine tribal governments in South Dakota proclaimed 1990 a Year of Reconciliation. This was our way of observing and honoring the rich and deep history of tribal people in our state. Our mutual goal was to engage the public and expose us all to Native American heritage and culture, acknowledge our challenges and yet commit ourselves to working together toward a brighter future.

Native Americans have a rich history in South Dakota. For many generations, Native Americans called our state home, long before Europeans settled in the West. South Dakota was originally a part of the vast territory of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people. Many other tribal nations include the Dakota Territory in their tribal histories.

Today, our state is home to nine tribal governments, comprising more than 70,000 Native Americans, each of which has a unique story to tell. Their traditions and customs are deeply woven into the fabric of our society. Our museums showcase ornate tribal art such as beadwork and star quilts. A wacipi, or powwow, is a gathering focused on dance, song and family. Wacipis celebrate the connections to spirituality and tradition. Wacipis are held throughout South Dakota, and the public is often welcome to attend. Many of our most recognizable landmarks are considered sacred by Native Americans and many South Dakota towns and sites bear traditional names.

While we are all South Dakotans, tribal governments are also sovereign nations, which creates and requires a special relationship between local, state and federal governments. At the federal level, I am committed to working with tribes to make certain their unique circumstances and challenges are being properly addressed.

Earlier this year, I met with tribal Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) to discuss the concerns of tribal veterans. Their input and feedback brought me much-needed insight into the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I remain committed to holding the VA accountable to all our nation’s vets across the country.

I’ve also been working to improve the education system in Indian Country, especially in rural and high-poverty areas. In some parts of the country, graduation rates at tribal schools are at 40 percent – half the national average. This is unacceptable. All children deserve access to a high-quality education system that prepares them for a prosperous and successful future. A provision I offered will help identify recruitment and retention options for teachers and administrators at tribal schools and analyze the limitations in funding sources. Earlier this year, it was unanimously adopted to the Every Child Achieves Act– the bipartisan education reform bill passed by the Senate.

Native Americans are not just a part of our history, they are a key part of our future. The customs and traditions of their culture guide and shape our state. I look forward to continuing to work with tribal governments to find ways to strengthen communities in Indian Country and improve the quality of life for all South Dakotans.

In South Dakota, we are honored to call the second Monday in October Native American Day.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Pheasants and Family

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Pheasants and Family
By Rep. Kristi Noem
October 16, 2015

Pheasant hunting is part of our lifestyle in South Dakota.  Many of us look forward to those days when the air is crisp but it doesn’t yet carry the bite of winter – the days when we can spend hours walking the fields and taking in the beauty of the incredible state we live in.  I love those days and all that comes with them.

For us, pheasant hunting is a family affair. My Grandma Bergan was an avid bird hunter.  When I was younger, she and I would spend hours walking the fields together each fall.  I think that when most girls become hunters, people assume it was their dad or their grandfather who took them.  And while my dad taught me about big-game hunting, it was my Grandma Bergan who passed down the South Dakota pheasant hunting tradition.  That’s something I’ve always been proud of.

One of the many things Grandma taught me was that hunting is more than a rush of adrenalin.  It is also a time that should be spent connecting with your family.  After my dad died, there were so many wonderful people who came into our lives and many family members who helped us make decisions and supported us. My Uncle Bob and Uncle Dennis were two of those individuals who spent many hours with our family trying to fill the void my dad had left.

I’d always felt blessed to grow up surrounded by a close family, and when all seemed to have fallen apart, Uncle Bob and Uncle Dennis  were there to offer a steady hand.  I’ve always been grateful for that and to this day, pheasant hunting sometimes seems like the best time to get past the busyness of life and catch up.  It’s why I try to make a point of walking with them and talking with them as we flush pheasants every year.  Those are times that I cherish.

I can only hope my own kids will find moments like this to hold on to.  I’m so glad that even after our girls have moved out and left for college, the pheasant season opener remains a family affair they come back for.  While not everyone in the family hunts, at the end of opening day, everyone gathers to spend time at Grandma Sharon’s for what inevitably becomes a loud, energetic, tale-telling dinner with the entire Noem family.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Whether or not you take part in the sport, I know most of us see pheasant season as part of South Dakota’s living heritage and an active segment of our economy.  Last year alone, pheasant hunters spent more than $154 million in the state, according to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

This is a tradition we can be proud of.  However you and your family spend South Dakota’s pheasant season, I hope it is safe and abundant.


Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Fighting The Flu Bug

daugaardheader DaugaardFighting The Flu Bug
A column by
Gov. Dennis Daugaard

Last January, our most recent granddaughter, Greta, was born. She joined her sister, Stella, and has two cousins, Henry and Elizabeth. Linda and I love to spend time with our grandchildren, when we can, and we want them all to be happy and healthy. As one way to help insure that, Linda and I received our flu vaccination this past week. It’s something we do every fall to make sure we protect our health and that of our grandchildren.

This year I’m encouraging all South Dakotans to help stop the flu bug by getting a flu vaccination. The flu is nothing to sniff at. Last year was South Dakota’s deadliest flu season in modern surveillance history, with 1,703 lab-confirmed cases, 793 hospitalizations and 63 deaths.

Surveillance data shows that children account for a significant number of flu cases and related hospitalizations every year. They also help spread influenza in community settings like schools and child care centers. That’s why the state offers free flu vaccine for those who are between six months and 18 years old.

An annual flu vaccination is the single most important thing we can do to prevent the flu. And we need it every year because the flu virus changes every year. Flu vaccine, like any medical treatment, is not 100 percent effective. However, if you do get vaccinated and still catch the flu bug, that vaccine could mean a shorter and less severe illness.

South Dakotans have a history of taking care of themselves when it comes to vaccination. We have some of the highest childhood vaccination levels in the nation and I’m proud to say that our overall flu vaccination rates are also among the best. Last season 59.6 percent of us got vaccinated for the flu, the highest rate in the nation for the second season in a row. In fact, South Dakota had the nation’s highest flu vaccination rate for four of the last five seasons.

The doctors, nurses and other providers who work hard every year to ensure people get vaccinated can rightly be pleased that South Dakota’s coverage rates lead the nation. But we recognize that there are still too many people who aren’t getting vaccinated.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the flu isn’t a serious illness. The headache, fever, chills, coughing and body aches can be very severe and for some people, can lead to complications like pneumonia that may require hospitalization.

The medical community recommends yearly flu vaccination for everyone over the age of six months. Vaccination is especially important for those who are at higher risk for flu complications – pregnant women, people over age 50, people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease and health care workers.

Infants are too young to be vaccinated, so we can best protect infants by getting vaccinated ourselves, especially if we have infants in our households. For your own health and the health of those you love, contact your local clinic today about getting vaccinated for the flu. Let’s all do what we can to stop the flu bug.

Learn more about what you can do to stop the flu at


Memorabilia from my mailbox

This week brought me two great items for my political collection. One was sent by a friend, and I found the other on eBay.

The first one made me laugh, and I almost wanted to put this bumper sticker on my car because it was so funny. And I reiterate, Almost wanted to.


“Ridin’ with Biden.”  That’s a pretty good one in reference to the Draft Joe Biden movement.  The second is more serious, and more related to South Dakota politics:


It’s far from being in perfect shape, but this is an original litho (screen printed on metal) pin for Herseth for Governor. Not sure if it’s for Ralph (campaigns in ’58, ’60 & ’62) or Lars (’86), but it’s one I didn’t have in my collection. I suspect it was for Lars.

Concerns over School Lunch Rules Continue to Grow, Says Noem

 noem press header

Concerns over School Lunch Rules Continue to Grow, Says Noem 

New GAO report shows participation in National School Lunch Program declines by 1.4 million in last four school year

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Kristi Noem today expressed continued concern after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an updated study showing National School Lunch Program participation declined by 1.4 million children – or 4.5 percent – between the 2010-11 school year and the 2013-14 school year. The non-partisan agency also reported that “new federal nutrition requirements contributed to the decrease.”

“My husband and I work hard to make sure healthy food goes on our kids’ plates at home, but we understand that if it doesn’t taste good, our kids aren’t going to eat it. I think that’s something most parents have experienced,” said Noem. “This report once again shows that if families can afford it, more and more are sending their kids to school with a sack lunch, but if finances are tight, kids are forced to stay in the program. I remain very concerned that the new regulations scheduled to take effect in the coming years will only make this phenomena worse.”

The new GAO report, which was an update to a study requested by Noem and Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, shows a continued decline in school meal program participation since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act took effect in 2010. Prior to the 2010-11 school year, participation in the program had been increasing steadily for many years. Click here to view a copy of the full report.

Noem has been vocal about her opposition to the new regulations. While she agrees we must do all we can to make sure kids are healthy, Noem opposes the one-size-fits-all solution that can leave kids feeling hungry and impose increased costs on local school districts.

In March 2015, Noem introduced the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, which would:

· Allow schools to maintain the previous whole grain requirements. Without this change, 100 percent of the grains that schools are required to serve students would be whole-grain rich, pushing items like tortillas and pasta largely off the menu. Noem’s bill would restore the requirement back to 50 percent, meaning at least half of the grains served would be required to be whole-grain rich.

· Maintain Target 1 sodium requirements. Absent a change, schools would have a difficult time serving healthy foods that include milk, cheese, meat and other foods with naturally occurring sodium.

· Give administrators flexibility on some of the rules that have increased costs for school districts, including the school breakfast program, a la carte options, and school lunch price increases.

· Make the USDA’s easing of the meat and grain requirements permanent through law, rather than regulations. This would give certainty to schools that they’ll be allowed more flexibility in serving meats and grains while still staying within calorie maximums.

Noem introduced similar legislation in the 113th Congress as well. The bill has been endorsed by the National School Board Association and the School Superintendents Association.