Why FHA Action is Challenging IM-22

im-22-oppose-pieceInitiated Measure 22 Title: An initiated measure to revise State campaign finance and lobbying laws, create a publicly funded campaign finance program, create an ethics commission, and appropriate funds.

On Election Day, November 8, 2016, SD Citizens voted for and approved IM-22 [YES: 180,580…51.62%;  NO: 169,220…48.38%].  One might think this would be the end of the story but it isn’t.

It isn’t because as the truth and ramifications of IM-22 are clearly uncovered many are beginning to have serious second thoughts about this 14,000-word, 34 page, 70-section bill.

The Family Heritage Alliance Action knew from the beginning that IM-22 was bad law and that’s why we joined the statewide coalition opposing its passage.  On November 23, 2016, following IM-22’s very slim margin of victory, the FHA Action became one of many plaintiffs in a court case challenge of the constitutionality of IM-22.  We are mentioned on page 4, number 13 of this complaint.  It reads:

Dale Bartscher

FHA Executive Director Dale Bartscher

         13.     Plaintiff South Dakota Family Heritage Alliance Action, Inc. (“FHA Action”), is a 501(c)(4) organization located in Rapid City, South Dakota, organized under South Dakota law and in good standing.  FHA Action employs a lobbyist named Dale Bartscher who has petitioned the state government in Pierre on multiple issues during past legislative sessions and intends to do so again in 2017.  After past legislative sessions, FHA Action has published a legislative scorecard and intends to do so again in the future.  The cost of publishing and distributing the legislative scorecard exceeds $500.

The FHA Action believes IM-22 may have good intentions, but unfortunately IM-22 uses methods that appear clearly unconstitutional and will chill legitimate political activity by non-profit organizations, such as the Family Heritage Alliance Action, and individuals across the political spectrum.  FHA Action wants to promote ethical government, but even the goal of making government more ethical does NOT justify ignoring important constitutional constraints like separation of powers and equal protection that are also intended to protect the people of South Dakota.

Although IM22 has many problems, some that particularly concerned FHA Action were disclosure and reporting requirements that, in our opinion, unconstitutionally required FHA to disclose the names of its top five donors on some public communications and to include many of its contributors’ names and employers on publicly available financial disclosure statements.  There are many employees and employers who have different views on politics.  Employers may not want to be associated with their employees’ views and vice-versa.  This tension could chill legitimate political activity across the political spectrum not to mention jeopardize the employer/employee relationship.

We also believed these new reporting requirements would have discouraged legitimate political activity and greatly increased FHA Action’s administrative costs without any impact on government corruption.

FHA Action absolutely believes in the importance of ethical government and would be happy to support new laws that promote ethical government without violating the constitution or chilling legitimate political activity.

Once again, this lawsuit is asking the court to review these important constitutional questions and other potential problems with IM-22, and to delay implementation of IM-22 until the court system can decide whether IM-22 is valid or not.  In the meantime, as we let the court system do its job, the FHA Action will be ‘boots on the ground’ during the 2017 Legislative Session as we champion those values we cherish of Faith, Family and Freedom.  Pray for us and follow our work at the SD State Capitol by keeping an eye on this site.

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