South Dakota political committees fined

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July 30, 2012

South Dakota

By Jennifer Springer

PIERRE, South Dakota: Fourteen South Dakota political committees face fines of up to $3,000 for skipping a May deadline for filing campaign finance disclosure reports, according to Secretary of State Jason Gant.[1][2]

The affected groups represent the South Dakota Tea Party, athletic trainers, firefighters and other organizations, along with four state lawmakers.[1] The reports were due May 25. Gant noted that the 14 committees got notices in early June that their reports were late.[1] None of the PACs replied.[2] After media sources started contacting committees on Gant’s list, several of the contacted committees reached out to Gant to file their reports.[3] Most said they were unaware their report was missing.[3]

Candidates and committees who don’t turn in the late reports will be summoned to an administrative hearing, which can approve a fine of $50 per day up to 60 days, or a maximum of $3,000.[3][2]

Fred "Rip" Ryness, treasurer of the South Dakota Taxpayer's PAC and the South Dakota Tea Party PAC, said the two organizations neither raised nor spent money last year.[1] The same was true for Gordon Howie when told he was facing a $3,000 fine for his South Dakota Freedom PAC. Howie said he filed reports for several other PACs he runs and that the South Dakota Freedom PAC had no receipts or spending this year.[3] In a statement, Howie stated, “I have a personal assistant who takes care of that stuff. My guess is that somehow that slipped through the cracks. But she’s on it now.”[3] The Professional Firefighters of South Dakota PAC also was flagged for not filing a report. Chris Robinson, identified as the PAC’s chairman in a 2010 filing, said that PAC should have been shut down before this year’s campaign finance deadline.[3]

Secretary of State Gant said that made no difference, and even PACs that were inactive have to file a report specifying that.[1] “Every candidate, political party or PAC must file a report even if there’s no income or expense."[3]

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