Chairman’s Note: Our dear friend Matt Varilek accepted an appointment this week to be the regional administrator for the Small Business Administration. He’s up to the task. With economic development experience in the private and public sectors, Varilek knows how to support entrepreneurs, small business owners, and local communities. Congratulations on the new job, Matt. We look forward to seeing what great things you’ll do for South Dakota going forward.
It’s finally official – Governor Daugaard has signed a comprehensive economic development package created by legislators that invests in education, housing, community development and businesses of all sizes. Pat yourself on the back. In 2011, Governor Daugaard authored a huge corporate welfare package for big out of state businesses and forced it through the legislature before you all referred the measure and voters rejected it in 2012. Now we have a more comprehensive package with much stronger protections for your tax dollars, and that’s a win you can take credit for.
Nesselhuf to Daugaard: Rescind Rounds’ Campaign Aide Appointment to State Board of Economic Development
Sioux Falls, SD (Jan. 3, 2013) – South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf released the following statement after Rob Skjonsberg, a top campaign aide for Governor Mike Rounds’ US Senate campaign, was appointed to the South Dakota Board of Economic Development by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
“Do you believe in coincidences? The man running Gov. Mike Rounds’ campaign for US Senate just got appointed by Governor Daugaard to help dole out state tax dollars for economic development. Whose interest is being served here? It’s just another ongoing example of Republicans leaders in Pierre using state tax dollars to support Republicans running for office.
“I am calling on Governor Dennis Daugaard to rescind his offer to Mike Rounds’ campaign aide for a seat on the state Board of Economic Development.
“Politics has no place in managing state tax dollars for economic development. South Dakota cannot afford to question whether Mike Rounds’ campaign aide is serving South Dakota or Governor Mike Rounds’ US Senate candidacy.”
Rob Skjonsberg helps lead Rounds for Senate, the US Senate campaign for Governor Mike Rounds. Skjonsburg was appointed by Governor Daugaard today to serve on the state Board of Economic Development, effective Jan 8.
Democratic Leader identifies hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions from state grant recipients
In a press conference in Sioux Falls today, Democratic leader Rep. Bernie Hunhoff (D-Yankton) identified $329,968 in political contributions to Republicans from corporate directors who received more than $29 million in state grants.
“Even though it’s impossible to determine how much money the state is giving away in the name of economic development, it’s now clear corporate welfare recipients are giving hundreds of thousands right back to Republican leaders in Pierre,” said Hunhoff.
The two-way contributions prove a need for reforms before creating a new large corporate giveaway program with Referred Law 14.
A study conducted by the South Dakota Democratic Party reviewed only the REDI fund between 2007 and 2011 and the futures fund from 2000-2010, two of many economic development programs scattered throughout state departments. Further review was hampered by lack of transparency and open records in state government. Continue Reading »
Press Release: Secretary Gant accepted thousands of dollars from corporations receiving state contracts from his office.
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
Chairman’s Note: Some folks in Washington are trying to undo the great investments in the ethanol industry we’ve made for South Dakota farmers. But Senator Johnson is speaking truth to power. Johnson is protecting the ethanol industry, so South Dakota continues to grow.
Democratic House Leader Bernie Hunhoff (D-Yankton) discovered something really unsettling today. In potential violation of state law, the South Dakota Municipal League, whose dues are supported by sales taxes and property taxes of member cities, supported Referred Law 14 with a full page ad on its front cover.
Now, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion – and polling shows the vast majority of South Dakotans oppose taking money from the general fund for giveaways to large out of state corporations – but using your tax dollars in support of electioneering is exactly why Governor Daugaard and Pierre’s corporate lobbyists just can’t be trusted with more money.
See the full press release below. It’s worth reading in whole.
Chairman’s Note: On November 6, voters will decide whether your tax dollars should support large, out of state corporations or South Dakota businesses, families, and students. Here’s my response, and I hope you’ll agree: “I strongly believe we should support South Dakotans first not large out-of-state corporations.”
Chairman’s Note: It’s easy to lay out the reason’s South Dakota needs to send Noem home. She has put millionaires before Medicare, tax breaks for Big Oil before tax relief for the middle class, and my-way or the highway politics before common sense solutions for South Dakotans back home. South Dakota needs Matt Varilek. Read more about Matt and follow him on Facebook.
Chairman’s Note: Let there be no doubt that Senator Tim Johnson is looking out for everyday South Dakotans. With allegations of global interest-rate rigging by big banks at the expense of consumers across the country, Senator Johnson is demanding answers from big bank executives. This is the kind of leader South Dakota deserves.