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Billionaire Sanford contributes $20,600 to Rounds-affiliated committee
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Billionaire Sanford contributes $20,600 to Rounds-affiliated committee


Billionaire businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford contributed $20,600 in November to a political fundraising committee associated with U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, according to a new campaign-finance report.

Sanford made the contribution on Nov. 20 to the Rounds-SDGOP Victory Fund, according to a mandatory report the committee filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

The Rounds-SDGOP Victory Fund subsequently distributed all of the money to other political action committees: $10,000 went to the South Dakota Republican Party; $5,600 went to Rounds’ own campaign committee, Rounds for Senate; and $5,000 went to another political action committee associated with Rounds, the Peter Norbeck Leadership PAC, named for a former South Dakota governor and U.S. senator admired by Rounds.

The Rounds-SDGOP Victory Fund is a joint fundraising committee. By forming a joint fundraising committee, two or more other committees can pool their contribution limits into one larger limit, solicit bigger contributions, and split the proceeds according to each committee’s own contribution limits.

For example, if Sanford contributed only to Rounds for Senate, Sanford could only legally contribute a maximum of $5,600 per election cycle — $2,800 for the primary, and $2,800 for the general election.

By contributing to the Rounds-SDGOP Victory Fund, Sanford was able to write one check for $20,600 and have that money split up within the legal limits among Rounds’ campaign committee, the Norbeck PAC associated with Rounds, and the state Republican Party.

Sanford owns First Premier Bank, which is based in Sioux Falls. His net worth is $2.4 billion, according to, and he has given away $1.6 billion — including $70 million in 2006, while Rounds was governor, to create the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the former Homestake gold mine near Lead.

Rounds is up for re-election in 2020. Engineer and state Rep. Scyller Borglum, R-Rapid City, has announced her intention to challenge Rounds in the June 2020 primary election.

Democrats who have announced their intention to run for Rounds' Senate seat are Dan Ahlers, a small-business owner and former legislator from Dell Rapids, and Clara Hart, a parent liaison for refugee families in the Sioux Falls School District.

Contact Seth Tupper at

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