During the last six years, we’ve seen the executive branch involved in accusing a conservative legislator of threatening to kill other legislators to ruin his reputation for complaining about corruption; conservative legislators being taken off committees to grease passage of illegal omnibus bills that have caused our crime rates to skyrocket; former Secretary of Economic Development dead in the middle of EB5 corruption; the six-member Westerhuis family dead in the middle of corruption; and a concerted cover-up of an establishment legislator sexually preying on pages and interns for two years. All the while, our governor claims our state government is good stewards, that there is no corruption and voters were duped into passing anti-corruption IM 22.
Last year, the con was pushed that South Dakota did not yet again have enough money in our $4.5 billion budget to cover our core infrastructure items. We all pay our taxes for education. The year before, they pushed to raise taxes, claiming there wasn’t enough money for roads. Even as these cons were being pushed, tens of millions of dollars were directed out of the budget into “economic development” accounts. As of recently, the REDI Fund alone has roughly $78 million that is being accumulated for some future unknown projects, but couldn’t be used for the new Animal Lab. Mind you, the voters previously overwhelmingly rejected the governor’s tax revenue “economic development” diversion in a referred law.
These tax increases weren’t about roads or teachers. It was about millions more of your dollars that can be spent on more government projects that special interests LOVE.
I tell you this so you fully understand the following:
Last year, a young legislator came out publicly against the tax increase. He voted against the governor’s sale’s tax increase in HB 1182 twice on the House floor. The tax increase was failing. The governor called the young man into his office, pounded a threatening message home to the young man — and the rest of the Legislature — that if the young man and other Republicans didn’t vote for the governor’s tax increase, the governor was going to use his million dollars in his campaign account to go after them. BUT, if they supported his tax increase, the governor would support their election campaigns. The meeting was so coercive, the young man came out crying and had to be consoled for hours.
What made this so notoriously known is the young man recorded the conversation and played the threatening message to other legislators. The young man and others changed their votes, the tax increase passed, and the governor was true to his word. The young man and most of those who supported the tax increase received large donations from the governor, and for many who didn’t, opponents were supported by the governor in the GOP primary.
Interestingly also, those “Republicans” who supported the tax increases received the highest rates of special interest campaign donations.
Things are so bad, the governor doesn’t even have to publicly oppose a bill. He just gives GOP “leadership” a list and tells his legislators to kill your bills.
South Dakota government appears to be as corrupt as notorious Chicago, not surprising knowing our governor made his professional start as a Chicago lawyer. If I wanted to live in corrupt Chicago, I wouldn’t have retired home to my beloved South Dakota.
You can contact me at Stace.Nelson@SDLegisalture.gov or (605) 770-7461.
God bless & Semper Fidelis.