Is a SD legislative candidate ‘volunteering’ employees for their campaign?

And promising a work promotion in return?

A South DaCola foot soldier told me, what they claim to be a firsthand account, of a legislative candidate telling an employee that they manage that they could get special promotions if they did some campaign work for them. The person asked to do the work is from the opposing party and does not live in the candidate’s district. But to get the promotion, they are allegedly doing canvassing for the candidate and have been seen working on campaign mailers at their work desk.

From what I was told, the person being asked to do this is doing because they feel they have no choice but to do it so they can get the promotion they want. Also, other employees there are uncomfortable with the idea that the quid pro quo to get something at their place of employment is by working on their manager’s campaign.

Of course this is nothing concrete (I am still trying to get someone to go on the record).

I do know the name of the candidate, and their place of employment. But before I release that information, I am wondering if anybody reading this either works with the candidate or the employee and could share more information?

Some of the employees are considering filing an internal complaint or speaking with the AG about the issue.

My suggestion to them (besides giving Detroit Lewis more details) is to file an internal complaint with their employer’s corporate office. While I don’t think the candidate is breaking any state laws when it comes to campaigning and volunteering, it certainly is unethical (which we all know is not illegal in SD). But their place of employment may frown on this kind of management black mail, manipulation, abuse of power and harassment.

I’m just sayin’



#1 Reader on 10.09.12 at 3:08 pm

Paragraph 3 sums up the gist of your article. It seems to me, that if there’s nothing concrete or nobody on the record, there’s nothing there.

If, on the other hand, there is some substantiation (your article describes employees – plural), going to HR, especially as a group (support and corroboration) would get be the first thing I’d recommend, followed up with a call to the SD and Federal Depart of Labor (for a possible prohibited personnel practice), and then to every political blogger in SD and the MSM.

#2 Detroit Lewis on 10.09.12 at 9:40 pm

Reader – I talked to an attorney about this tonight, and asked if this candidate was breaking any laws? And he said ‘Possibly’.

Like I said, I am not going to name the candidate until someone comes forward. To tell you the truth, I would love to see it handled internally within the corporation. I think this goes beyond bullying and intimidation (if it is true) and I hope the company can handle the situation.

#3 Guest Poster on 10.10.12 at 8:20 am

It will be interesting to read the finance reports in a few days to see if this candidate posts the ‘in kind’ contribution his employer unknowingly made to the effort.

If I were the manager of this business, I would be asking the employees to report it. The intimidation aspect crosses several employment law issues. The ‘forced’ to campaign for your boss in order to keep or move up in your job hinges on slave labor.

This is a double whammy campaign finance issue. The employer must report in-kind contribution for rent / utilities / labor used. The candidate’s family finance reports will be scrutinized to see if it reported. If he is part of a interstate versus intrastate business, the business will need to report this in an report. If the report does not show the contribution, there could be possible federal criminal charges filled against the candidate and business.

So here we have state campaign financial reporting to be examined in two weeks and then Federal campaign reports to examined. Next we could encourage the employees ‘forced’ to do campaigning for their boss as a labor law issue. The WalMart unpaid labor case could be used to prosecute the boss and employer for working without pay. This could get real interesting if the abused employees are hourly versus salary. The hourly could quantify time expended as unpaid forced labor through intimidation.

A good attorney and the Labor Department could have a field day with this.

#4 Tom H. on 10.10.12 at 9:39 am

GuestPoster beat me to it. I think he’s right: if none of these (forced) in-kind contributions are reported, one could probably make the case that campaign finance laws have been violated.

#5 DDC on 10.10.12 at 1:02 pm

Why don’t the employees tell the business owner instead of just complaining to a political blogger?

If I were the business owner, I’d fire both the “campaigner” and the candidate. Possibly the people that felt it was better to inform a blogger about the situation than to inform me, too.

#6 Testor15 on 10.10.12 at 11:05 pm

DL, was this employee complaining to a political blogger or just reporting? DDC, have you ever been in the position to be abused by an employer into doing his work?

#7 DDC on 10.11.12 at 12:19 am


The way I’m reading this, this isn’t an employer that’s doing any “abusing”. It’s one employee in a supervisor role directing another employee to do the supervisor’s personal work on the company dime.

The supervisor should be fired for attempting to bribe the subordinate into doing the personal work and the subordinate should be fired for doing the personal work and not informing the supervisor’s superiors.

Abused by an employer to do their work? The only time I didn’t have the option to quit a job at will was when I signed a contract with the US government for four years. Other than that, I could cease to work for any of my various employers whenever I so chose and escape or avoid any “abuse”.

But that is completely beside the point, since it doesn’t seem as if the employer was the one promising a promotion in this case.

#8 Testor15 on 10.11.12 at 8:22 am

DDC, the employer becomes liable in these cases because he is the supervisor in charge. The employer may be 1,500 miles away in their office but this manager is in a position locally to take advantage.

I have had to deal with these types of situations. Termination of the local manager / supervisor is only part of the remedy. The corporation will be held liable for lost wages and penalties if prosecuted.

In a right to work state like South Dakota, employees must rely on Federal rules, US Federal Court and SD Supreme Court rulings for proper protections. There are not many good paying jobs in South Dakota so an employee quitting and easily moving to another job are usually pipe dreams of the past.

#9 Detroit Lewis on 10.11.12 at 11:01 am

DDC – No one was complaining to me, they were kinda trying to decide ‘what to do’ about the situation. It is a national corporation that has offices in Sioux Falls. Like I said, I have a feeling ‘corporate’ wouldn’t be to happy about this – if it is true. I am still waiting for someone to go on the record and give me evidence.

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