SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A new campaign text message system promises to give people “insider info” on what’s going on in Sioux Falls.

It’s also raising questions about how candidates are trying to attract voters.

On Monday morning, Mayor Paul TenHaken, who is up for re-election, used campaign text messages to let people know about a concert announcement for the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. TenHaken asked for people to join his campaign text message to get “occasional insider updates on all things Sioux Falls from me to you.” 

When someone opts in to the campaign text messages by sending “Paul” to the number, a message says “occasionally you’ll get news from me, insider info on happenings in Sioux Falls, and stuff on my mind.” You can see an example in the text message below.

On the left, Paul TenHaken’s advertisement to join his text list for insider updates on all things Sioux Falls.
On the right, an example of the robotext from Paul TenHaken’s text list.

The texts from TenHaken’s campaign notified people that rock band The Foo Fighters were coming back to Sioux Falls on September 18 and shared a link to buy tickets. 

KELOLAND News reached out to both Mayor TenHaken’s office and campaign office about how the text messages would be used. This story will be updated with any response once one is received. 

TenHaken is one of three candidates who have announced campaigns for the mayor’s office. The deadline for nomination petitions are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 25. The election will be held on April 12.

Taneeza Islam, a lawyer, announced her run for mayor in October. She questioned TenHaken’s new messaging tool. 

“The PREMIER Center is owned by Sioux Falls taxpayers. Requiring residents to sign up for the mayor’s campaign account to get “insider updates” about what’s going on at a public facility is completely inappropriate,” Islam said in a statement to KELOLAND News. “As mayor I’ll always be transparent about any news involving one of our taxpayer funded buildings. The mayor should shut down his text account now if he’s going to seek political gain from public information.”

David Zokaites is also running for mayor. He said TenHaken was using insider information for personal gain.

“This is unethical and appalling but not surprising. Sioux Falls government has corruption problems (a massively-overpriced parking garage) and tries to hide bribery (gifts of third party paid travel) ,” Zokaites said in a statement to KELOLAND News. “What’s a little insider information compared to bribery and corruption? Certainly this abuse of insider information should stop immediately and an apology should be issued.”