An Anti-Corruption Bill Looks To Change Numbers

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It’s a grade no state wants to get.

A recent report from The Center for Public Integrity gave South Dakota an “F” in terms of the possibility of corruption.

The report also ranks South Dakota 47th overall — a number one bipartisan coalition wants to change that.

The ballot measure is supported by former Republican State Senator Don Frankenfeld and former Democratic candidate for US Senate Rick Weiland. One of the goals of the measure is to create a state ethic’s commission, something South Dakota doesn’t have.

The headlines involving problems with state-run organizations continue, and some people believe there needs to be a change.

In less than 30 days, South Dakotans for Ethics Reform collected more than 25,000 signatures. If enough are valid, the anti-corruption bill will be in the hands of voters in 2016.

“This is a very broad diverse bipartisan coalition that I think is wanting to do the right way,” Weiland said. 

According to the coalition, a recent poll shows 83 percent of South Dakotans feel there’s some level of corruptness in South Dakota politics, and 91 percent would vote for anti-corrupt measures.

Parts of the anti-corruption bill aim to increase enforcement of ethics laws, stop lobbyists from giving unlimited gifts to public officials, and increase transparency of political spending.

Related: Read the full South Dakota Government Accountability And Anti Corruption Act

“The problem has more to do I think with the potential for misbehavior than actual misbehavior, but like other states we need to have rules in place,” Don Frankenfeld said.

The coalition started after reports were released from The Center for Public Integrity. Governor Dennis Daugaard doesn’t think the report reflects South Dakota politics.

“I think it’s interesting that South Dakota got a grade that was lower than Illinois and two out of the last three governors of Illinois are in prison today so I really give no credence to that report at all,” Daugaard said.

But Weiland believes that grade and the stories happening across the state show a serious problem, and a need for an ethics commission.

“I think an independent commission really does, at the very least, sends a message to anybody that might be thinking of crossing over the line that they’re not going to be sweeping it under the rug,” Weiland said.

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