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Questions About Delayed Campaign Finance Reports

June 1, 2012, 5:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Questions About Delayed Campaign Finance Reports
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

South Dakota voters still can't see the campaign finance reports for several candidates for the state legislature a week after they were due.

The deadline to file was Friday, May 25, at 5 p.m., but many reports didn't get filed on the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website until Friday, June 1, and some reports still aren't posted.

The delays come after South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant unveiled a new online campaign finance reporting system in November.

All week, KELOLAND News has been checking the new site and noticed several reports have been missing. It's because Gant still let candidates file on paper for this election and his staff has had to put in the reports manually.

At least one candidate is saying the week-long lag in reporting isn't fair.

"The people of South Dakota are entitled to know before they vote who is funding the candidates," Republican House of Representative candidate for District 14 Anne Hajek said.

Hajek is running against R. Shawn Tornow and Larry Zikmund. Hajek filed her report through the online system last week before the deadline, but as of 2 p.m. June 1, a week after the deadline, Zikmund's report was no where to be found online.

"What I don't think is fair is people who have supported me, who are willing to go out and make a financial commitment to Anne, who believe in her candidacy are now online but now my opponents who have gotten other donations and stuff, theirs isn't," Hajek said.

Zikmund said he didn't use the online system, but emailed in his report last week and it's taken the Secretary of State's office all week to put it online.

"We've had so many reports come in on paper that it takes time to get each one of them in and the reports have continued to trickle in each day," Gant said.

Gant says they are allowing candidates to file several different ways since the new online system was put in place. He says by the general election this fall, the online system should be easier for candidates to use.

"We're definitely moving in the right direction.  It's just a matter of going through the growing pains of getting there," Gant said.

There are also more than a half dozen candidates who have not filed any reports at all. Tornow says he's troubled by that.

"The number I hear that haven't filed is a little bit of a concern. Running a campaign is everything from knocking on doors to making sure every 'i' is dotted and 't' is crossed and this is really just a part of being a legislator," Tornow said.

Hajek believes every candidate needs to be held accountable and file their reports online and on time.

"These are people who want to be lawmakers; they need to follow the law," Hajek said.

Gant says his office will still allow candidates to file on paper and electronically for the general election in November.

The fine for not filing on time is $50 a day.

The Secretary of State says he will review the candidates who filed late, or not at all, after they finish manually entering the candidates who didn't file online and they will decide whether they assess the penalties against those candidates.

Hajek believes $50 isn't a stiff enough fine.  She believes it should be $1,000 so every candidate has incentive to get their reports done.

Zikmund’s report was posted online by the close of business on June 1.

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