South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson is preparing legislation to amend state campaign finance laws to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to spend money on behalf of political candidates.
The high court’s 5-4 decision last week reverses past court rulings that allowed political spending by corporations on ballot-issue campaigns but not on candidate elections. The decision also allows unions to spend money in support of candidates, which previously had been banned.
The well-publicized ruling still prohibits corporations and unions from making direct donations to candidate campaigns, but it does allow them to spend money independently on political advertising for a candidate.
Nelson said he has drafted an amendment to state campaign finance laws to comply with the high court’s latest decision. The deadline for state government agencies to introduce new legislation has passed, so Nelson is likely to ask that a minor bill on campaign laws be amended to include the new provisions.
“Our state law does prohibit independent expenditures by corporations as they relate to candidate races,” he said. “We are looking at how to amend our state law so that it is defendable.”
The amendment will be crafted carefully, Nelson said.
“It will be very targeted,” he said. “It will only go as far as the Supreme Court has gone.”
South Dakota law already allows corporations and unions to spend money in support of ballot-issue campaigns. Reporting requirements in state law require the organizations to state within 48 hours how much was spent, what the advertising was for and who paid for it, Nelson said.
The Supreme Court decision requires similar reporting requirements for the money spent in support of a candidate.
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