BREAKING – Citizenship-for-sale scandal breaks wide open!

2 big things happened today.

1) The South Dakota Democratic Party retained noted trial attorney Patrick Duffy to outline the potential criminal issues facing state officials with the EB5 citizenship-for-sale scandal.

2) State Senator Larry Tidemann (R-Brookings) who holds the power to subpoena key players involved announced a Sept. 24 hearing where he’ll “invite” former Rounds employee Joop Bollen to testify.

READ about our progress here – and then make a contribution if you want us to continue our legal fight for answers from Mike Round, Dennis Daugaard, and others.

EB5 Citizenship-for-sale  Kings Joop Bollen & Mike Rounds

EB5 Citizenship-for-sale Kings Joop Bollen & Mike Rounds

As a direct result of your online advocacy and our offline action, the SDGOP is finally coming around to the fact that South Dakotans deserve answers on the bungled EB5 citizenship-for-sale scandal from Joop Bollen AND every single person with answers including Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard, and Aberdeen attorney.

Rest assured – Republicans already think we’re fabricating this scandal despite the record of six major newspaper editorials, and they’re circling the wagons as we speak.

So we need your help by making a contribution right away, so that we can keep fighting for the truth from Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard, and others like Jeff Sveen.

Thank you for sticking with us. Our fight for accountability continues with your help.

Zach Crago

Executive Director

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5 reasons to vote YES on 18 after 5 years since minimum wage increase

Sioux Falls (July 24, 2014) — It’s been 5 years since the last increase in the federal minimum wage – but now South Dakotans have a choice on Initiated Measure 18 to raise the minimum wage on November 4th.

In recognition of this anniversary, here are 5 reasons to vote Yes on 18:

1) States that raised the minimum wage saw faster job growth. According to state by state hiring data released by the Department of Labor, states that raised the minimum wage at the beginning of this year actually saw faster job growth than states that didn’t raise the minimum wage – contrary to the scare tactics of special interest critics.

Everyday South Dakotans get it: Put money in the pockets of hard working people, and they’ll send it on the things their families need everyday. That boosts consumer demand at small businesses and grows the economy.

2) Small business owners support raising the minimum wage. According to a recent scientific telephone survey, 61% of small business owners support raising the minimum wage. Why? The report says,

“Small business owners believe that a higher minimum wage would benefit business in important ways: 58% say raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power. 56% say raising the minimum wage would help the economy. In addition, 53% agree that with a higher minimum wage, businesses would benefit from lower employee turnover and increased productivity and customer satisfaction.”

Small businesses get it too: Workers are customers. When workers earn more, they spend more at small businesses and boost the economy.

3) Prices for everyday goods continue to rise, but the minimum wage has stayed the same. That means a South Dakotan’s hard earned dollar actually buys less and less for her family. Since the last increase in the minimum wage:

  • The price of milk has increased 21.2%
  • The price of eggs has increased 30.3%
  • The price of cheddar cheese has increased 21.9%
  • The price of gas has increased 44.6%
  • The price of electricity has increased 9.2%
  • The minimum wage has increased 0%. 

Too often, South Dakotans are working harder and harder just to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage will help working moms and dads support their families in the face of higher and higher prices at the pump and in the supermarket.

Working full time for 14500

4) 62,000 South Dakotans will earn more if Initiated Measure 18 passes. According to preliminary data from Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage will give 62,000 South Dakotans a raise. Who are they?

  • 78% are older than 20. These aren’t high school students like special interests will tell you.
  • 55% are women – many of whom are supporting families.

5) Raising the minimum wage lifts people out of poverty – and off of government assistance. A full time worker earning the minimum wage makes $14,500 a year, which qualifies many working families for government assistance. Raising the minimum wage will lift many working families out of poverty and reduce the demand for government assistance. It’s a win win for working families and the taxpayers: working families make ends meet, and the public cost of low wages decreases for taxpayers.

Want to help our effort to raise the minimum wage this November? Please make a contribution of $100, $50, $10 or whatever you can afford right away or sign up to volunteer for our effort to raise the wage.


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IN REVIEW: #WeAreSD 2014 State Democratic Convention

Message from Chair Deb Knecht:

Fellow Democrats,

I was energized coming out of our State Democratic Convention last weekend in Yankton, SD. I was so proud of our staff and volunteers who worked together to welcome delegates, organize fun presentations at meals between platform meetings, and host an inspiring convention banquet with DNC Vice Chair RT Rybak and our beloved US Senator Tim  Johnson – and boy, were we surprised by Tim’s $200,000 pledge to the state party!

Even with all the other convention fun, delegates ultimately met to define our values and positions in the state party platform – and they put together a great platform with lots of resolutions. I was particularly encouraged by the many young Democrats  who took time to come to take part in this somewhat tedious but important  job.  Those of us that are “more seasoned”  know what conventions are like, and I appreciated the knowledge they shared.

As we all know, Democrats are an independent bunch with a wide range of beliefs and ideas.  But in the end, we all have the same core principles.  This is what motivates us. This is what gives us our energy to do the right thing.  This is what allows us to come together to move forward, work hard and win elections. With all of us pouring our energy into helping our candidates, registering voters, and getting out the vote, I believe we will make history in 2014!

I’m looking forward to the summer ahead and can’t wait to see you volunteering beside me! In the mean time, check out the photos from convention below!

Chair Deb Knecht


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GOP Medicaid expansion blockade means missed opportunities for SD

Sioux Falls (July 2, 2014) — South Dakota is missing out on huge opportunities as a result of the Governor Dennis Daugaard’s medicaid expansion blockade, according to a new report published by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors.

South Dakota Democratic party Executive Director Zach Crago says that the report underscores the importance of Medicaid Expansion in South Dakota.

“The numbers don’t lie – Medicaid expansion makes dollars and sense for South Dakota,” says Crago. “Medicaid Expansion injects hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy to insure 26,000 people who fall in the Daugaard coverage gap. That investment creates jobs and offers a lifeline to hardworking South Dakotans without health insurance. South Dakota cannot wait any longer for Governor Dennis Daugaard and GOP state legislators to expand Medicaid.”

The missed opportunities South Dakota faces because Governor Dennis Daugaard and GOP state legislators refuse to expand Medicaid include:

Missed Opportunities: PREVENTATIVE CARE:

  • 26,000 South Dakotans will be left uninsured because they work too much to qualify for regular Medicaid but earn too little to qualify for subsidies on the healthcare exchange.
  • 3,800 South Dakotans will be get cholesterol level screenings.
  • 1,500 South Dakotans will not receive needed pap smears.
  • 900 South Dakotans will not get potentially life saving mammograms


  • 6,000 South Dakotans will not have access to a usual source of clinical care.
  • 3,000 South Dakotans will not get all their needed care in a 12 month period.
  • 70,800 needed physicians visits will not occur.
  • 2,000 South Dakotans who suffer from depression will not see relief.
  • 3,000 South Dakotans will not report good health.

Missed Opportunities: FINANCIAL HARDSHIP

  • 10,500 South Dakotans will suffer catastrophic out of pocket healthcare costs.
  • 3,700 South Dakotans will have to borrow money or skip paying payments to pay a medical bill.

Missed Opportunities: FEDERAL SPENDING

  • $420 million in federal investments to South Dakota between 2014 and 2016 will be forgone.
  • 1900 jobs will not be created.


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Susan Wismer Picks Susy Blake as Running Mate

It’s official! Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Susan Wismer has picked former state representative Susy Blake to be her running mate. Watch the announcement on Argus Leader below.

Susan Wismer and Susy Blake

Rep. Susy Blake brings passion, principles, and experience to the Democratic ticket. She has been an advocate for women, working families, and hungry children. In 2011, Susy led an effort to reform a broken food tax rebate program that led to a more streamlined public private partnership to provide food to families in hunger. That’s the kind of leadership you can expect from Susy, and that’s the kind of leadership we need in Pierre.

But they can’t do it alone. They’ll need your time, your talent, and your treasure to fight back against Governor Dennis Daugaard and the special interests. Stand with Susan & Susy today!

Stand with Susan Wismer for South Dakota

Governor Dennis Daugaard slashed education funding, rejected Medicaid Expansion, and waffled on raising the minimum wage. Rep. Susan Wismer is fighting for working families. Show your support by standing with her today!

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SDGOP passes resolution to impeach President Obama

For Immediate Release: Saturday, June 21, 2014

SDDP Chair calls on Noem & Thune to reject extreme SDGOP resolution to impeach President Obama

Sioux Falls (June 21, 2014) — South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Deb Knecht called on Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune to reject the resolution passed by the South Dakota Republican Party at their state convention to impeach President Barack Obama. A statement from Knecht follows: Kristi Noem South Dakota Tea Party

“The South Dakota Republican Party has had many opportunities to put working families and the middle class first, but instead they want to impeach the President. Make no mistake – tea party politics have taken over the SDGOP.

Let’s be clear: out of touch tea party politics aren’t going to create good jobs, protect the middle class or grow the economy.

The SDGOP resolution asked their US Representatives to impeach the President. That’s why I’m calling on Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune to reject this extreme tea party resolution passed by the South Dakota Republican Party.

Now is the time for Noem and Thune to show true leadership. They can reject this extreme resolution or pursue it in accordance with their platform. What’s it going to be?

It’s long past time for the SDGOP to abandon extreme tea party politics and start putting South Dakota’s working families, farmers & ranchers, and students first.”

The resolution to impeach the President was passed by the SDGOP on Saturday, June 23. It concludes: “Therefore, be it resolved that the South Dakota Republican Party calls on our U.S. Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.”


Do you think the SDGOP has gone too far? Help us put South Dakota first again. Be a volunteer.

I want to be a volunteer!

The South Dakota Democratic Party is volunteer driven organization. Our volunteers spread our message, determine our goals, and help elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Be a South Dakota Democratic Party volunteer today!


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SHOT/CHASER: Republicans Deny Teacher Shortage

SHOT: Survey: 30 Percent of SD Teaching Positions Open;, 6.19.2014

CHASER: SD Senate Rejects Resolution on Teacher Shortage; Rapid City Journal, 1.22.2014

It’s official – if you ever had any doubt: The South Dakota Republican Party is out of touch. When it comes to the crisis in education in fact, they have lost grasp of reality. Case in point: the critical teaching shortage facing South Dakota schools. South Dakota already had the lowest paid teachers in the country. But when the state legislature convened a summer study on the topic and recommended a bipartisan resolution to merely acknowledge the obvious, Republican leaders killed the resolution. Now, the obvious emerges again with the summer flying by: 30 precent of our schools can’t find teachers across all subjects, including the science & math fields Republicans are always extolling. It leads us to wonder:

How can we fulfill our children’s promise if we can’t even find the teachers to educate, train, and inspire them in the classroom?
Teacher Shortage

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Custer County Democrats sell out McGovern Roosevelt Rally

A note from Dean Kurtz, Custer County Democrats Chair:

I want to thank everyone who supported the Rally in any way with donations for the silent auction, buying tickets or helping the day of the Rally. For those who were not there, you missed a barn burner.

What a great day for Democrats in Custer County when we get 75-80 people show up and fill the Rocky Knolls’ Clubhouse to capacity to hear our candidates speak. Thanks to Rick, Joe, Susan and out own Steve Price for attending and energizing the crowd with their remarks. Thanks too to Gardner Gray, Independent candidate for a House seat in District 30… Great job each and everyone.

I hope you had a chance to read the article in the Chronicle on Wednesday. Talk about earth shattering – the Chronicle devoting that much column space reporting on the Democrats of Custer County. I thought the young lady reporter did a bang up job in getting the facts across. And, I hope Patti Lee was as excited to receive her plaque and gift as I was to present it. Thanks again Patti for all of your years of hard dedicated work.

It got me fired up to do everything I can to get our candidates elected in the fall. Lets turn out more Democrat votes in Custer County then ever before.

Thanks again – what a pleasure it is to work with such fine people.


Proud to be a Democrat.

PS: If you’re proud of our success, show it with a contribution today at We’re going to make sure Democrats turn out in November across the state – even in Custer county!

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ICYMI: Medicaid expansion is saving lives in North Dakota

Zach Crago, Executive Director SDDP: “Common sense prevailed in North Dakota when Republicans and Democrats came together to provide thousands of people with health insurance – but South Dakotans are still waiting for life saving coverage. Zach-Crago-SDDP

“In North Dakota, Medicaid expansion is providing care, identifying treatable illnesses, and saving lives that might have been lost without this coverage. North Dakota didn’t play politics, and they didn’t make excuses. It’s long past time for Governor Dennis Daugaard and our legislature to put South Dakotans first and expand Medicaid today.”

Associated Press
North Dakota Medicaid expansion leads some residents to seek long-delayed health care

By James MacPherson
May 14, 2014

BISMARCK, North Dakota — The company providing coverage for North Dakota’s Medicaid expansion told state lawmakers Wednesday that many residents who haven’t seen a doctor in years are doing so now.

Lisa Carlson, director of Planning and Regulation for Sanford Health, told the Health Care Reform Review Committee that some residents hadn’t been seeking treatment for cancer and other diseases because of the lack of money.

More than 7,880 people have been enrolled in the expanded state’s Medicaid program since January. Officials estimate more than 12,000 people — mostly adults without children — are still eligible under the Medicaid expansion, a component of the federal Affordable Care Act championed by President Barack Obama. Under the new law, residents whose income is up to 138 percent of the poverty level qualify for Medicaid, the health program for the poor.

“There is a consistent theme with the population of delaying testing, not filling medications or making follow up appointments due to no coverage,” Carlson said. She told lawmakers of several incidents where previously uninsured North Dakotans are getting medications for diabetes or are now being treated for testicular, rectal, lung and esophageal cancers that might not have been detected without the broadened coverage.

“Nurses are finding great fulfillment with many ‘bless yous’ and notes of thanks from individuals who were not getting care due to their lack of financial resources,” Carlson told the panel.

North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature reluctantly voted last year to expand Medicaid to cover more uninsured residents of the state. GOP lawmakers in both chambers testified that they don’t like the new federal law championed by Obama, but believed the state’s residents would have to shoulder more costs without it.
Carlson said in an interview that “absolutely” lives are being saved due to the expansion of Medicaid.

Mike Schwab, executive vice president of the North Dakota Pharmacists Association, said his group supported legislation last year to expand Medicaid to cover more uninsured residents of the state. But Schwab told lawmakers the association is regretting it now. He said more than 30 pharmacies in the state have expressed frustrations with the new law, including reimbursements that don’t “cover the cost of doing business.”

“If we had known it would be administered in an unfair and unreasonable manner to many of our provider members we would have adamantly opposed Medicaid expansion,” Schwab said.


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Press Release: SDDP to host 2014 state convention in Yankton

South Dakota Democratic Party to host 2014 state convention in Yankton with keynote speaker DNC Vice Chair & former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak 

***Thursday, June 26, 2014 – Saturday, June 28, 2014***

Sioux Falls, SD – The South Dakota Democratic Party will host its state convention on Thursday, June 26, 2014, through Saturday, June 28, 2014, at the Best Western Kelly Inn Hotel and the NFAA Easton Archery complex in Yankton, SD. Mayor RT Rybak

Democratic National Committee vice chair and former Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak will headline the convention banquet on Friday, June 27, at 7pm.

Deb Knecht, Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, encourages all Democrats to attend. “State convention is an opportunity for Democrats to come together, define our values, and create an agenda that moves South Dakota forward,” says Knecht. “We welcome all Democrats who want to take part to apply to be a delegate.”

Democrats who are interested in being a delegate can register here:

About our keynote speaker:
After serving 12 years as mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak became executive director of Generation Next in January of 2014.  In his current role he aims to make Minneapolis and St. Paul a national leader in innovative, cradle-to-career approaches to youth development, and works to highlight the crisis of our region’s achievement gap and advance effective strategies for ending it.

During his tenure as mayor, Rybak led efforts to revitalize north Minneapolis, attack juvenile crime, make Minneapolis a wireless city, end homelessness in 10 years, and significantly reduce the city’s energy consumption to combat global climate change.

He has been a DNC vice chair since September 2011. In her nomination letter, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote: “Mayor Rybak was the first mayor of a large U.S. city to endorse President Obama’s presidential campaign in early 2007. He is an incredible surrogate for the President and Democrats.”

A Minneapolis native, R.T. Rybak spent almost 30 years working in journalism, the commercial real estate business, publishing and the Internet before being elected mayor in his first run for public office. He and his wife Megan O’Hara, a communications consultant and local-food advocate, have two grown children.

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