Alexandria, VA – The Center for Competitive Politics, America’s largest nonprofit focusing on public education and defense of First Amendment political speech rights, released an analysis today by Senior Fellow Eric Wang regarding South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 22, otherwise known as the “South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act.”
“Initiative 22, if passed, would make approximately 70 changes to South Dakota law and impose additional burdens on the exercise of First Amendment political speech rights,” said Eric Wang, Senior Fellow at the Center for Competitive Politics. “Between now and November, South Dakota voters should familiarize themselves with all of the measure’s many complex provisions so that they can make an informed judgment at the polls.”
Among other points, Wang’s analysis finds:
- The Initiative would impose broad, burdensome, and intrusive government reporting and compelled speech requirements of questionable relevance and constitutionality for legislative advocacy, voter education, and even commercial advertising.
- The Initiative’s “Democracy Credit Program” may impose an unattractive fundraising straightjacket on participating candidates, and is also written ambiguously.
- Candidates’ campaign committees, party committees, and PACs would be limited in their ability to sell off old office equipment, furniture, and other assets, and to rent and sell their contact lists.
- The sponsors of neutral communications like voter guides would be required to declare that they either support or oppose the candidates mentioned in the communication, if the communication is made near election day. Since many groups that sponsor voter guides are 501(c)(3) nonprofits that are legally barred from making such endorsements, these groups would now face a legal Catch-22.
- PACs would have to include irrelevant disclaimer language about authorization and coordination with candidates, even for communications having absolutely nothing to do with candidates.
- Lobbyists and employers of lobbyists may evade the gift limit if gifts are made to more than one state official or staff.
CCP takes no position on the merits of Initiated Measure 22 as a whole, and South Dakota voters should make their own determinations as to how to weigh the measure’s potential virtues against its potential flaws.