UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly asks for advisory opinion

UPDATE: The Ethics board determined they could not make a decision because they didn’t have evidence that the City Council would vote on TIFs. Stehly told them there was an Argus Leader article on it, but she didn’t have it with her though Bruce offered to show it on his tablet. Since they are quasi-judicial they have to have the physical evidence.

Bruce pointed out at the end of the meeting during public input that it was unfortunate that they did not offer an opinion because now if there are pictures of city officials and city councilors at the event and later they have to make a decision on TIFs, ethics violations could be filed against them for accepting gifts before the vote. The Ethics Board could get very busy next month.

The meeting will be at 10:30 AM this Thursday at City Hall. Stehly is asking if it is ‘ethical’ to be accepting FREE ‘Food & Drink’ from a developer that will be potentially asking for a TIF from the very people who are being asked to attend this event.

Personally, if I was a city councilor, I would NOT attend the reception portion of the event. It not only looks unethical, it likely is unethical. This will be an interesting Ethics Board meeting to watch and what laws are applicable. In South Dakota where we have very few ethics laws for lawmakers I could easily see a ruling either way.



7 comments ↓

#1 Matthew Paulson on 04.23.19 at 12:15 pm

South DaCola logic: It’s perfectly fine for a city councilor to send an aggressive robo-call over a holiday weekend that instructs recipients to harass another city council member, but god forbid a city council member drinks a diet coke and eats off a meat and cheese tray paid for by Lloyd companies.

#2 D@ily Spin on 04.23.19 at 1:38 pm

Nothing adverse here. Councilors should ask for an opinion when there’s doubt. Hopefully, accepting all forms of favor can be clarified. Stehly and Starr are the patriots on the council. They’re often ridiculed by corrupt factions of city government. Someone criticizing Stehly on this point would be making a serious political mistake.

#3 l3wis on 04.23.19 at 3:51 pm

It wasn’t aggressive and it was sent on Saturday two days before the vote. Nelson’s nomination was announced on Friday at 3:30 PM with NO biographical information provided. When was Stehly supposed to inform the public? This is a timing issue, just like the Christmas break special meeting over the golf course contract, it had nothing to do with the holiday. Neitzert knew damn well this appointment could have waited a couple of weeks, but he decided to try to slip it under the radar over a holiday weekend, and it backfired on him and now he is trying the blame the messenger. I’ll applaud him for his scheme to use Jesus as an excuse to be nice, but most people are not that naïve.

As for the ALCOHOLIC beverages and apps provided, that’s called influencing a vote, and there should be a state law against it. It wreaks.

#4 LJL on 04.23.19 at 9:20 pm

This wouldn’t be needed if the voters decided if TIFs were warranted.

#5 anonymous on 04.24.19 at 7:17 am

Isn’t this the same reason why you cannot serve food or drinks at polling places during elections?

#6 Bruce on 04.25.19 at 7:44 pm

There are some basic state laws and rules for the SD Legislators to follow (http://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/50-state-table-gift-laws.aspx):

Gift Limits – Any person who offers to make bribes of money or other inducements, offers or gives gifts or other types of consideration to any person for the purpose of obtaining sponsorship or introduction of legislation, influencing the form of legislation, attempting to influence any member of the Legislature to vote, or for or against any candidate, attempting to influence any officer in naming of members and officers of committees, or in the performance of any of his duties, or attempting to influence or control the action of any member in relation to any matter coming before the Legislature, or any of its committees is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. S.D. Codified Laws § 2-12-9. No public official and no member of the immediate family of a public official may accept from any lobbyist or principal any gifts with a cumulative value greater than $100 during any calendar year. S.D. Codified Laws § 2-12-16.

Definitions & Exceptions…

Gift, means anything of value, including any object, money, property, or service, that is given without compensation or remuneration. The term does not include: (1) Anything of value for which the recipient paid an equal or greater value; (2) Any contribution to a political committee that is regulated by the Federal Elections Commission or under chapter 12-27; (3) Any service or event to assist a public official in the performance of official duties, including any cost to educate or inform the public official on matters of public policy; any advice, information, consultation, or communication regarding actual or proposed legislation; any service to constituents or to promote the economic development of the state; (4) Any food, entertainment, or beverage provided for immediate consumption; (5) Anything of value exchanged between immediate family members; (6) The cost of admission to any state-owned facility or state-sponsored industry or event, if provided by the sponsoring state agency, political subdivision, or publicly funded institution; (7) Anything of value received due to membership in a group, the majority of whose membership is not comprised of public officials, if the object or other thing of value is also given to other members of that group or to other members who also serve as officers or directors of that group; or (8) Any scholarship, prize, or financial support awarded or supported by a principal for a program related to education, and widely available and generally awarded to qualifying members of the public, the majority of whom are not comprised of public officials or the immediate family of public officials. S.D. Codified Laws § 2-12-18.

#7 Blasphemo on 04.28.19 at 11:17 am

“Gift, means anything of value, including any object, money, property, or service, that is given without compensation or remuneration. The term does not include: … (4) Any food, entertainment, or beverage provided for immediate consumption;” So, if these guidelines for SD state legislators are a relevant guide, as I read it “heavy appetizers and drinks” are exempted from the definition of a gift and would not be regarded as an ethics violation, right?

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