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The Rapid City Journal wrote an article about SD Citizens for Liberty’s Conservative Scorecard this week. We believe that story left the reader with a false impression of the scorecard’s accuracy by omitting part of the quote from our press release.

Because the Legislative Research Council is prohibited by legislative rules from making individual legislator’s voting records publically available, we must hand-tabulate every vote of 105 legislators on 32 bills — a labor-intensive and eye-crossing job.

SDCFL’s scorecard seeks to provide a clear picture of every representative’s record on issues important to conservative voters. By including committee votes and procedural votes that are hard to find, our scorecard offers a unique level of accountability.

Several weeks prior to publication, we send a draft copy to every legislator so they can check their record. If errors are found, they are corrected before publication. This courtesy assures both the accuracy of the scorecard and that legislators can’t claim inaccuracy in the final product.

As members of SDCFL, we are very protective of the integrity of our scorecard. We evaluate job performance, not relationships. The RCJ story implied that Rep. Julie Frye-Mueller’s high score is problematic because her husband is president of SDCFL. It should not be shocking when elected conservatives vote conservatively or that a member of a conservative organization would have an outstanding conservative record. The purpose of our scorecard is to help voters distinguish between campaign rhetoric versus the reality of a legislator’s voting record.

Here’s what the story didn’t tell you:

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• SDCFL guidelines for scoring votes are South Dakota and U.S. founding documents and the state and national Republican platforms; we cite particular references as they apply to each bill scored.

• The governor’s pheasant habitat bill and the budget bill, which increased spending by almost $170 M and added 111 FTE’s to the payroll, were also scored.

• Freshman Rep. Scyller Borglum, primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds and running as a “common-sense conservative,” scored 29.2 percent on the conservative scale.

• The number of House members who earned a conservative (red) score more than doubled from 2018 to nearly half of the chamber, and the average conservative score this year was 10 points higher than in 2018 — while the Senate made minimal conservative gains.

• The Journal failed to tell readers where they can access the scorecard. The 2019 Conservative Scorecard is posted on SD Citizens for Liberty’s Facebook page, and it will soon be available on our website at www.sdcitizensforliberty.org. Printed copies will be available soon and are printed in a mailing format. Our address is: P.O. Box 7611, Rapid City, SD 57709-7611

Now you know what you need to know — the rest of the story.

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Tonchi Weaver is a leader of SD Citizens for Liberty.

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