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SD Democratic Party’s financial hole deepens
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SD Democratic Party’s financial hole deepens

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The South Dakota Democratic Party’s federal campaign committee owes nearly $47,000 in debts and obligations and has a balance sliding further into negative territory, according to its latest report to the Federal Election Commission.

The party filed a report last week that covers the month of September. The report said the committee’s balance at the end of the month was -$8,651.27, and the committee’s outstanding debts and obligations totaled $46,863.73.

The biggest debt or obligation disclosed in the report was $11,983.99 owed to The Sutton Group, which has an address in Silver Spring, Maryland, and does not appear to be connected with 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Billie Sutton. The next biggest debt or obligation disclosed in the report was $5,845.68 owed to the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

The party began September with a balance of -$1,726.75 and received $27,345.57 in contributions during the month. That income was not enough to cover September’s $34,270.09 in expenses and other disbursements.

Among the contributions, $16,529.15 — about 60 percent — came from the Democratic National Committee. Much of the rest came from individual contributions, including $1,000 from former congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Democrat who is now president of Augustana University.

The new report is the latest evidence of financial problems facing the party. Earlier this year, the FEC revealed that it had audited the party committee's finances for the years 2015 and 2016 and found several problems.

The FEC’s final audit report was filed Sept. 12. It included three findings: disbursements had been understated by $2,500,147, because of the party’s failure to adequately report its role as a pass-through for Democratic National Committee funds; 31 contributions totaling $23,827 had been impermissible; and $46,097 worth of debts and obligations to vendors had not been disclosed.

Since the FEC audit findings went public, the state party has closed its offices in Sioux Falls and Rapid City and transitioned its staff to remote work.

During the years covered by the audit, the treasurer of the South Dakota Democratic Party’s federal campaign committee was Bill Nibbelink. He has since retired from the position, and the party filed a document with the FEC last week that identifies Michael Hanson as the committee’s new treasurer.

State party officials did not immediately return messages Monday from the Journal.

Meanwhile, the South Dakota Republican Party’s FEC report for September showed an ending balance of $24,798.34. The party's federal committee took in $6,569.24 during the month and spent or disbursed $10,293.73.

Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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