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S.D. measure targeting government-funded lobbying fails

By The Associated Press
11.06.08

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakotans on Election Day rejected an initiated law that would have banned government-funded lobbying and restricted political donations by people with some state contracts.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Initiated Measure 10 had 65% opposition, or 232,631 votes, to 35% support, 127,042 votes.

Opponents, who had labeled the measure a gag law, said it would have restricted free speech, wasted taxpayer money and weakened the voice of communities in state decisions.

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said promoters were mostly from outside the state, would not reveal the source of their campaign funding and were spreading misinformation.

"Hopefully, it sends a message to some of the folks from out of state that are spending their money in South Dakota, trying to use us as guinea pigs, that voters in South Dakota do read what's on the ballot and they do make some very good choices about major changes in law that affect state government," the Republican governor told the Associated Press on Election Night. "And they don't simply buy that all people who are actively involved in government are somehow evil."

Supporters said a ban on tax-funded lobbying would affect organizations such as the county commission association and the South Dakota Municipal League and that members of those groups should go to Pierre themselves if they want something changed rather than paying a lobbyist with taxpayer dollars.

Jim Anderson of the Yes on 10! committee said it could not compete with a nearly $1 million television advertising campaign it says was paid for by the Washington, D.C.-based National Education Association.

"We appreciate those who stood with us in the face of a barrage of negative advertising paid for by out-of-state union officials in Washington," Anderson said in a statement. "We're looking at this first time around as a learning experience, and we remain committed to pursuing these needed ethics reforms."

Attorney General Larry Long said the measure would have prohibited state and local governments and their officers and employees, as well as independent contractors and consultants, from using government resources for campaigning or lobbying. And he said it would have barred people who hired legislators from getting government contacts and barred holders of no-bid contracts and their families from contributing to candidate campaigns.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties passed resolutions against Initiated Measure 10.


Related

Edwards proposes ban on lobbyist contributions (news)
Democratic presidential hopeful says barring lobbyists from giving money to federal candidates wouldn't violate First Amendment because they would 'continue to have the right to speak.' 10.15.07

High court won't delay enforcement of lobbying law (news)
Manufacturers group, which is challenging statute's disclosure requirements, had filed emergency request asking chief justice to stay lower court ruling upholding law. 04.22.08

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