PIERRE | A dozen South Dakota lawmakers and a conservative Rapid City organization that claim they would face illegal conflicts have filed a lawsuit to block parts or all of Initiated Measure 22, known as the Anti-Corruption Act, from taking effect.
South Dakota voters approved IM 22 on Nov. 8. Most of its provisions took effect as law on Nov. 16.
One provision sets a $100 limit on gifts to legislators. The definition includes employment and covers family members.
The group that is a party to the lawsuit is the conservative Family Heritage Alliance Action in Rapid City, which claims it would be injured by the measure.
The Family Heritage group employs a lobbyist at the Legislature named Dale Bartscher and publishes a scorecard at the end of legislative sessions that costs more than $500 to produce and distribute, which could violate the law.
Several Republican legislators also claim that provision would force them to quit the Legislature or quit their jobs, or their spouses would need to quit their jobs.
Examples include Sen. Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls, whose employer, Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital, pays him more than $100 per year and employs a lobbyist at the Legislature.
Also, Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, is an accountant with clients who pay her more than $100 per year and employ lobbyists at the Legislature.
Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, is a registered nurse employed by Avera McKennan and is paid more than $100 per year. Avera McKennan employs a lobbyist at the Legislature.
Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, serves on the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce board. He estimates the lunches served at the monthly meetings exceed $100 in value. The chamber employs a lobbyist at the Legislature.
There are 12 other legislators who are generally represented in the lawsuit, but don’t list specific personal conflicts, who are seeking to overturn parts or all of IM 22.
They are Reps. Lana Greenfield, R-Doland, and Lee Qualm, R-Platte.
They also are Sens. or Sens.-elect Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg, Bob Ewing, R-Spearfish, Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, Terri Haverly, R-Rapid City, Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, Jim White, R-Huron, and John Wiik, R-Big Stone City.
Mickelson is the incoming speaker of the House of Representatives. Qualm is now House Republicans leader. Peterson is now House Republicans assistant leader.
Brock Greenfield is the incoming president pro tem for the Senate. Curd is now Senate Republicans leader. Maher is now Senate Republicans assistant leader.
Cammack was Senate president pro tem during the past year and is president-elect for the South Dakota Retailers Association, which paid to fight against IM 22.
The group Fighting IM 22 was financed almost entirely by Americans for Prosperity, based in Arlington, Va. It gave $590,000 and provided $36,755.52 in in-kind help by establishing a Sioux Falls office.
Other contributors included Dan Kirby of Sioux Falls, $9,000, Garry Jacobson of Sioux Falls, $2,500, South Dakota Retailers Association, $5,000, Minnehaha County Republican Party, $250, South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, $1,500, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, $500, and Family Heritage Alliance Action, $250.
The lawsuit also attacks the creation of an ethics commission and establishing a public financing system for legislative candidates and statewide candidates.
Responsible for defending the new laws is state Attorney General Marty Jackley.
Jackley had warned voters, in the ballot explanation he was required to write, that if passed “the measure may be challenged on constitutional grounds.”
He didn’t tell voters what specifically was open to possible challenge.
Jackley as a state official would be subject to the new law’s restrictions.
The campaign to pass IM 22 received its funding almost entirely from a group called Represent.Us based in Florence, Mass.
The group hadn’t passed its Anti-Corruption Act in a state prior to South Dakota but had won city elections in Tallahassee, Fla, and Seattle.
For its South Dakota campaign, the organization channeled $663,691.98 from hundreds of small donors throughout the nation and directly donated $633,383.20.
Represent.Us also provided $55,079.86 of in-kind services for South Dakota operations from late May through October.
Additional funding flowed into the IM 22 campaign in the early days of November from allies, including $50,000 from Every Voice based in Washington, D.C., another $22,000 from Represent.Us, and $2,500 from several contributors.
Starting in February the chairman for the “Yes22” committee supporting the initiated measure campaign was Don Frankenfeld of Rapid City, a Republican former legislator and congressional candidate.
The co-chairman was Darrell Solberg, a Democratic former legislator from Sioux Falls. The treasurer was Rebecca Goeden of Canistota.
In a late May finance report, Yes22 reported $20,000 from Represent.Us and $5,230.27 of in-kind services from the group.
Another committee supporting IM 22 formed in July 2015 called South Dakotans for Ethics Reform.
The Nov. 8 election results for IM 22 were 180,580 yes and 169,220 no.
It received approval from majorities of voters in Brookings, Brown, Buffalo, Clay, Custer, Day, Dewey, Fall River, Jerauld, Lake, Lawrence, Lyman, Marshall, Miner, Minnehaha, Moody, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, Roberts, Spink, Todd, Union, Yankton and Ziebach counties.