Did Mayor Huether, Finance Director Turbak and the City violate state law?

As I mentioned yesterday, the city put this press release out rebuffing TenHaken’s 100 day strategy. Since this press release came from the city, is it a violation of state law?;

Universal Citation: SD Codified L § 12-27-20 (through 2012)

12-27-20. Expenditure of public funds to influence election outcome prohibited. The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or such political subdivisions in his or her personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question.

Source: SL 2007, ch 80, § 20.

The city cleverly will point to the last sentence;

presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question

But is a ‘CANDIDATE’ the same as a ‘BALLOT QUESTION’? I think not. I hope someone holds the mayor accountable for once.

Ironically, TenHaken accepting donations from minors is within the letter of the law;

The children, ranging from ages 6 to 15, each contributed the maximum yearly contribution of $1,000. McDonald, who created the medical software company in downtown Sioux Falls in 2000, also gave the maximum amount.

Those contributions don’t break any laws, city officials said, but they do point to the way savvy supporters can lend a little extra help to political candidates, especially if the kids are on board.

“They’re technically not signers on the account, but there (were) six separate checks with a memo with their name on it to keep it clear,” McDonald said.

But is it ethical?

Jon Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University, said contribution limits are intended to limit the influence a single individual can have on candidates and elections. But when someone is politically savvy and invested in a candidate, they’ll almost always find a way around those limits.

“For better or worse, that’s the idea,” he said. “So when people are using children, there’s a possibility that people are avoiding the intention of the law – even if it’s not technically illegal.”

Yeah, Savvy. LOL.



14 comments ↓

#1 My Mistake Mike on 04.19.18 at 3:49 pm

“Unless campaign finance laws changed, I haven’t done anything wrong or unethical,” TenHaken said Wednesday when asked about the contributions, adding that he checked with the City Clerk’s Office before accepting them.

If you have to ask the City Clerk before accepting and depositing the check, you have a faulty moral compass. Just saying.

#2 l3wis on 04.19.18 at 3:59 pm

I’m also not sure if the (Uncertified) City Clerk’s ‘STAMP’ of approval means much of anything, ask Bruce.

#3 "Very Stable Genius" on 04.19.18 at 4:27 pm

Children’s money is their parents. It is not six contributions, rather it is contributions from two adults – the parents – who are over their limit….

#4 anonymous on 04.19.18 at 5:27 pm

You have to wonder what Eric McDonald expects in return if TenHaken is elected (esp since McDonald’s DocuTap is located DT).

Why would TenHaken want to even chance that the voters would question these contributions? After all, TenHaken is out on the campaign trail everyday talking about how transparent he and his administration will be.

His response indicates he has no problem with children who probably know very little about voting contributing thousands of dollars to his campaign.

He may not see a problem with it, but as a voter I do!

#5 "Very Stable Genius" on 04.19.18 at 8:51 pm

In a strange way, ThuneHaken’s willingness to disclose this $ 6000 in the way he did is a transparency; but a transparency greater then he wanted it to be perhaps, or else it shows how apparently he is arrogant and thinks he has some kind of teflon quality to survive it. So what is it, we must ask, a naive transparency or sure arrogance?…. And are naivety and or arrogance qualities that we want in the mayor’s office?

#6 anonymous on 04.20.18 at 5:55 am

VSG — a willingness to disclose this…..

NO, it’s called, campaign finance laws.

#7 anominous on 04.20.18 at 6:52 am

Isn’t this kind of business discriminatory against smaller families who don’t have a half dozen kids to funnel the money through?

#8 What? on 04.20.18 at 7:35 am

Arrogance

#9 Warren Phear on 04.20.18 at 8:57 am

Anon, in what way are local campaign laws different than national laws? If so, in what way?

Minors

An individual who is under 18 years old may make contributions to candidates and political committees, subject to the limit of $2,700 per election, if:

The decision to contribute is made knowingly and voluntarily by the minor;

The funds, goods or services contributed are owned or controlled by the minor, proceeds from a trust for which he or she is a beneficiary or funds withdrawn by the minor from a financial account opened and maintained in his or her name; AND

The contribution is not made using funds given to the minor as a gift for the purpose of making the contribution, and is not in any way controlled by another individual.

I see Lalley gave ten haken a mulligan on this issue. I see a trend with Lalley and tenhaken. As much as Belfrage was a lackey for mmm, I can see the same coming down the road with these two.

#10 Lincoln County Delegate on 04.20.18 at 9:19 am

A question for discussion in regards to “Very Stable Genius” comment about it being the parents money not the children’s. What about single income earning families? Wouldn’t that technically mean that only the person earning the income could donate money since their spouses income is solely derived from that income earners paycheck?

#11 D@ily Spin on 04.20.18 at 10:39 am

What seems evident is there should be election law reform. It’s no surprise the city presented something questionably legal. Hasn’t this been Huether policy 8 years now.

#12 "Very Stable Genius" on 04.20.18 at 12:00 pm

anonymous,

You are missing the point. It’s either naivety or arrogance. A kid’s money belongs to their parents until their 18 – unless emancipated – so its impossible for kids to legally contribute, so he didn’t follow campaign laws….

#13 "Very Stable Genius" on 04.20.18 at 12:03 pm

LCD,

My guess is, it depends on a lot of things. Do they have a prenup and what does it say? Did the other spouse – not working – bring money into the marriage? If it comes from a joint account, then the working spouse has volunteered or given their money to the other spouse as well….

#14 LJL on 04.20.18 at 8:11 pm

A better question would if if they EVER follow state laws?

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