An open and transparent government
In November 2016, South Dakotans voted to pass a direct ballot measure called "Initiated Measure 22". It called for a whole host of campaign finance reform, ethics reform, lobbying reforms, and transparency and accountability. Just weeks after it was passed, the Governor and the state legislature held an emergency session, repealed the entire thing, and promised to "replace it" with legislation that would "achieve the same thing". To no one's surprise, the measures passed were woefully inadequate. Some legislators even went so far as to propose and sponsor legislation that would make it harder for South Dakotans to bring ballot measures to fruition by making ridiculous signature and circulator requirements, and in an unabashedly anti-democratic move, even raising the majority needed to pass legislation from 50% to 55%!!! South Dakotans, myself included, were outraged.
Legislators who voted to repeal IM 22 unilaterally declared it "unconstitutional", but they never let a judge declare it so! Why didn't they let it go to court before repealing the entire thing? Much later, 25 legislators, several lobbying organizations, and businesses sued to challenge its constitutionality, claiming that a Government Accountability Board and Election Commission creates a "fourth branch of government" and would "supersede" the constitution of South Dakota. Of course, this is nonsense. There are accountability boards and elections commissions at the federal level with no problem whatsoever.
Here are the measures I support/oppose in service of an open and transparent government:
- I strongly support proposed constitutional amendment W.
- I strongly oppose proposed constitutional amendment X.
- I strongly oppose proposed constitutional amendment Z.
- I support initiated measure 24
Here is the legislation I would bring and sponsor:
- I strongly support passing an Anti-Corruption Act in South Dakota which will address:
1) Fixing our broken election system
2) Ending political bribery
3) Ending secret money in politics
4) Enforcing anti-corruption laws by prosecuting violators
We can fix our broken elections by:
- Enabling automatic voter registration
- Enabling "vote at home" programs through the mail/online (in addition to voting at the polls).
- Making election day a state holiday allowing everyone to vote.
- Ending gerrymandering by creating independent, fully transparent redistricting commissions that follow strict guidelines to ensure accurate representation for all voters, regardless of political party, and following the one person one vote rule.
- Letting all voters participate in open primaries. By controlling the primaries, the political establishment controls which candidates we can vote on. I believe we should require all candidates for the same office to compete in a single, open primary controlled by voters, not the political establishment. This gives voters more control over our elections and more choices at the ballot.
- Changing how elections are funded. Running a political campaign is expensive, and few Americans can afford to donate to political campaigns (nor should this be a necessity for the propagation of democracy!). That makes politicians dependent upon – and therefore responsive to – a tiny fraction of special-interest and rich donors. IM 22 offered every voter a small credit they can use to make a political donation with no out-of-pocket expense. Candidates and political groups are only eligible to receive these credits if they agree to fundraise solely from small donors.
We can reduce government/political bribery by:
- Making it illegal for politicians to take money or ANYTHING from lobbyists! Lobbyist should be able to make their arguments without offering or bribing officials with "things" or "food" or "entertainment".
- Banning lobbyists from bundling campaign contributions in connection with an election for federal office.
- Closing the revolving door of politician-turned-lobbyist-turned-politician
- Eliminating lobbyist loopholes.
We can end secret/dark/big money in politics by:
- Requiring politicians to immediately disclose political money online.
- Outlawing Political Action Committees donations completely, thus stopping donors from hiding behind secret-money groups/PACs.
- Cracking down on super PACs that allow individuals to bypass individual contribution limits.
- Making it illegal for politicians to fundraise during working hours.
- Fixing coordination rules. The FEC’s current coordination regulations permit extensive collaboration between
candidates and supposedly “independent” Super PACs". This needs to be stopped. Amending the Federal Election Campaign Act to create reasonable presumptions of coordination under which an expenditure made by a Super PAC is treated as a contribution to the candidate will go a long way towards accountability. We should enact the stringent measures here in South Dakota for local candidates for the state legislature.
Strengthen anti-corruption enforcement by:
- Ensuring that paid lobbyists are identified.
- Requiring electronic disclosure of the specific officials, offices, committees, or subcommittees contacted; all entities (contractors and subcontractors) employed or retained to engage in lobbying activities, along with description of such lobbying activities; and the identity of each former covered official employed or retained by the registrant who engaged in lobbying activities on behalf of the client, along with description of such lobbying activities.
- Prohibiting any person or entity failing to come into full compliance with the requirements of this Act within one year after being identified by a comptroller or election commission as noncompliant - from engaging in any activities that would require the person or entity to be a registrant or a lobbyist for a period of 2 years.