The Republican-controlled legislature hiked its own budget $5,000 per lawmaker last session, and today (Tuesday) they started spending the money by voting themselves more out-of-state travel, including trips to the controversial ALEC conventions where conservative lawmakers mingle with corporate special interests.

Democrats tried to strike the $5,000/legislator funding for the trips on the final day of the legislative session, and they tried again today (Tuesday) when the legislature’s executive committee expanded the travel policy.

“When we can’t afford to fund our schools or cover other basics of government, we can hardly afford to turn legislators into frequent fliers,” said Senator Larry Lucas of Mission, who opposed the measure as a member of the executive board.

Lucas said he and other legislators were blind-sided by the proposal to include ALEC.

“That’s unconscionable, especially this year when we pushed school costs onto property taxpayers. The priorities of our Republican colleagues are hard for me to fathom today.”

Rep. Bernie Hunhoff said the spending priorities of the GOP-dominated legislature are hurting South Dakotans.

“On the last day, the legislature couldn’t even find $25,000 to help fund a van for disabled veterans. We couldn’t find support for scholarship programs or prenatal care to the very poorest young mothers in South Dakota — let alone provide adequate school support. And yet we have the money to fly ourselves all over the country? This is not a proud day for the South Dakota legislature.”

Hunhoff said the 2013 session was remarkable in its lack of partisanship, and substantive reforms were enacted.

“I’m still hopeful we can continue that spirit into 2014, but today’s vote and the way it was conducted is not particularly helpful in that regard.”

Sen. Jason Frerichs, the Democrats’ senate leader, said spending state tax dollars on ALEC dues and trips is shocking.

“This is an organization that has raised more than $20 million over the last several years from the biggest corporate special interest groups in the world. They take great pride in promoting legislation that benefits the coffers of these large corporations, often at the expense of the average American taxpayer.”

Frerichs and Hunhoff said they intend to demand that no dues monies be paid for Democratic legislators.

“We won’t attend the ALEC conferences and we do not want a dime of the taxpayer’s money to be used for this biased, extremist lobbying organization.”

They said they’ll also try to correct the executive board’s decision in the 2014 legislative session.

Detroit’s NOTE’s; It amazes me the very organization that is meant to screw over the middle-class, is getting funded by us, thru taxpayer funds, to bend us over the barrel. I will do my best to get photos and deets on the legislators who attended this convention, on our dime.


#1 cr on 04.24.13 at 6:08 am

Scott, Please do South Dakota voters a favor and list the names of all legislators who voted in favor of the $5,000 per legislator and where they are from.

*Also, provide names of which legislators are on the Executive Committee.

#2 Poly43 on 04.24.13 at 7:27 am

Where in hell is the Paywall Leader on this issue?

#3 Guest Poster on 04.24.13 at 8:10 am

The ALEC conventions are in place to do several things. These gatherings of the clan are organized to get next legislative marching orders (model legislation) from the corporatist financiers. As a reward for the ‘good’ work introducing and also passing the model legislation the ambitious, gullible, greedy legislators get to meet the lobbyists who regale them with campaign money. If these legislators are anointed by ALEC as the next group of ‘leaders’, they are then placed in positions of power or office to do more for them.

We have read here at South DaCola, the Pierre / Sioux Falls musical chairs / offices to make sure the ‘right’ people are rewarded. The 2012 list of 37 legislators who made the ALEC list were of course all Republican. Democrats saying they would not accept the trip is a joke. No real South Dakota Democrat ever would be financed by ALEC or allowed into their club.

ALEC for those who do not understand, is a corporatist Christianist operation financed primarily by the KOCH Brothers, NRA and other extreme right wing special interest groups (companies). As a corporatist front, this group is organized to fool its members with trips and money to work against the best interests of their constituents. The best interests of the state of South Dakota is the last thing ALEC is interested in.

ALEC will politically destroy any of their student legislators if they were to ever vote against the ALEC sponsored model legislation. ALEC is now firmly entrenched in the power positions of SD state government. This is a cheap state for ALEC to buy and they have bought cheap. We have a GOP ready to sell their souls for the power they crave and are scared to lose.

For Bernie and the rest of the Democrats to think the last session was bipartisan is to let us all know how badly they are out of touch. They got rolled by the ALEC members with many false promises and a little bit of mysterious money in the wrap up deal on the last legislative day. Their are a few of us who have disagreed with term limits because of it fosters the influence of outside groups and entrenched bureaucracies. Thank you South Dakota for voting for ignorance again. If anyone thinks Stormland, The PayWall Leader or any other ‘media’ tries to expose this or even understands any of it, I have a pet rock to sell you.

#4 Pathloss on 04.24.13 at 10:12 am

CNN did a survey on most corrupt states. Georgia is first and South Dakota second. If we had more population, we’d be first. It’s a first or second place to be ashamed of.

#5 Winston on 04.24.13 at 1:00 pm

A corrupt state? It is more like a corrupt corporation.

#6 OleSlewFoot on 04.24.13 at 5:26 pm

While I am a firm believer in the SD taxpayers not funding either party going to meetings that push agendas/legislation for certain groups, I am all for them traveling to stay informed. Where is that fine line? There is no doubt we should not be funding ALEC expenses to ALEC meetings. The attendees already get a stipend from the ALEC.

DL — just ask Hal Wick or any that attend what their stipend was and how much the state reimbursed them for going.

Guest Poster had obviously been reading way to many far left websites to state that the Koch Brothers are the primary source of funding for ALEC. This list is readily available if you want to do a little work. The Koch Brothers gave ALEC $140,000 in 2011. That would hardly be primary fund for the ALEC. The extent they are involved in many of these groups is exaggerated by the extreme left. The Kochs have their own PAC so they can spend their money how they want when they want.

#7 Helga on 04.25.13 at 12:41 am

This story maps out how ALEC is trying to run from their name and make people think they are a totally new organization. In 2012 they tried to “whitewash their image”, as explained by the author. In 2013 they hired a new PR person named Bill Meierling who has a South Dakota connection. “During the 2004 election cycle Bill was able to join Larry Diedrich for Congress for both the special and general elections where he worked in grassroots conducting and coordinating GOTV efforts throughout southwest South Dakota.”
Perhaps the name rings a bell for some. This is an interesting, long read on how ALEC would like everyone to know they are not the deceptive, manipulative group that people think they are.

#8 Guest Poster on 04.25.13 at 10:57 am

The Koch family connections ran deep in the forming of ALEC. To now think the Koch brothers no longer are foundations of the organization shows a need for further reading and understanding.

Some of us have spent decades following these groups.