Why the rich get richer; campaign contributions

I’ve known about this story for awhile, (I did the above toon in July) actually I was told about it this summer, and to tell you the truth, no surprise.

South Dakota’s tourism department awarded about $25 million in no-bid contracts to Sioux Falls advertising agency Lawrence and Schiller in recent years, while members of the firm were contributing to state politicians and a former state Office of Tourism director became employed there. But officials with the state and Lawrence and Schiller scoffed at the idea that the firm’s political contributions are related to the awarding of contracts.

They scoffed! At who? The taxpayer’s making their wallets fat?

“We’ve had great success with them,” he said, noting that visitor sales have been going up each year and are expected to top $1 billion.

Benda said the no-bid contracts ensure a consistent branding and marketing strategy to promote South Dakota to potential tourists. Allowing other agencies to bid each year could cause upheaval in that strategy, he said. 

And how do you know you wouldn’t have the same amount of success with another agency that was cheaper if you don’t put it out for bid. L & S is one of the most expensive agencies in the state, but they don’t win all the advertising awards.

Officials with Lawrence and Schiller donated more than $16,500 to political candidates from 2002 to 2006, records show. Most of that money went to Gov. Mike Rounds, and Breard notes that many donations weren’t made until after Lawrence and Schiller started working for tourism in 2003.

Mike Rounds is involved with this somehow?! GET OUT! He is one of our cleanest and most honest governor’s in state history . . . ahem.

You may or may not know I’ve locked horns with one of Lawrence & Schiller’s founders, Paul Schiller in the past. He has been up to this kind of crap for a very long time. While sitting on the board of the Washington Pavilion, L & S did work for the Pavilion (some donated, some not). Yes, a pretty obvious conflict of interest. In fact, Paul used to participate in art exhibits at the Pavilion while sitting on the board. Finally this year (with little fanfare) the Pavilion changed their policies when it comes to conflict of interest. Though I haven’t read the full language, it is pretty simple, you can’t participate in exhibits or provided services to the Pavilion while sitting on the board. Seems logical.

And as for Billie Jo, she has gotten everything in life by being politically connected. How do go from being out of college, to being Minnehaha Treasurer, to being head of SD Tourism to having the state’s leading ad agency create a position for you? Think about it.

Maybe the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Local Ad Agency gets rewarded with pay to play AGAIN — South DaCola on 10.19.11 at 1:59 pm

[…] Haven’t we been down this road once already? It was only 3 years ago that Rounds got busted doing this, and now his buddy DooGard is doing it also with the SAME ad agency! (From the TheAntidote); lucrative state tourism contract as well as a tidy little contract to promote the University of South Dakota in a variety of forms of advertising including billboard advertising. […]