It’s now clear why Secretary of State Jason Gant has stayed silent after a request from Representative Peggy Gibson (D-Huron) to determine whether a non-profit organization is using state tax dollars for political gain:
Secretary Gant has accepted thousands of dollars from corporations that received state contracts from his office.
Secretary Gant’s ‘Committed to Victory’ political action committee accepted $17,500 in corporate contributions while the same corporations received thousands in state tax dollars from the Secretary of State’s office.
Gant is silent on the issue of state tax dollars supporting election activities because he is a prime benefactor of a pervasive culture of kickbacks and pay-to-play in Pierre, says Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party. “The same person overseeing our elections is leveraging our tax dollars to help elect Republican candidates through his political action committee,” says Nesselhuf. “It’s machine politics at its worst, and its exactly why Democrats are fighting for more accountability with state contracts and grants.”
Nesselhuf says Secretary Gant must immediately do three things to clear up the situation: “Secretary Gant must explain why he accepted thousands of dollars from corporations receiving state tax dollars from his office, return his corporate contributions, and close his political action committee.”
BPRO, Inc, an IT company based in Pierre, gave $7500 to Secretary Gant’s political action committee in 2011. Since then, BPRO received 9 contracts or extensions of existing contracts with the Secretary of State’s office and $287,137.13 in state tax dollars.
Government Systems, Software, and Services, based out of Omaha, NE, contributed $10,000 to Secretary Gant’s political action committee in 2011. One year prior, an organization named “Election Systems and Software” listed at the exact same address as “Government Systems, Software, and Services,” received $31,789 from state coffers.
Contract and vendor payment information was found open.sd.gov
This issue of kickbacks and pay to play must be resolved, says Nesselhuf. “For Pierre Insiders, the culture of kickbacks might seem like just another day in the life,” says Nesselhuf. “But for everyday South Dakotans, the whole thing stinks.”
For more information please contact Ben Nesselhuf at 605-271-5405 or firstname.lastname@example.org