PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — There are some relatively big spenders when it comes to South Dakota legislative elections. And then there’s the South Dakota REALTORS political action committee.
The R-PAC pre-general election report showed $133,000 of donations to legislative candidates this year — at $2,000 or $3,000 apiece — and total contributions of $138,010.
That $133,000 might be more than any other person, PAC or entity contributed in South Dakota legislative contests this year. Most, but not all, of the recipients of the REALTORS’ contributions were seeking re-election. And most, but not all, were Republicans.
KELOLAND News wanted to find out some details. Why now, why so many and why so much? How were the 65 recipients chosen? How about the three who received $3,000 apiece?
REALTORS president David Kneip of Brookings sent a polite (and registered-trademark) reply.
“The SD REALTORS® Political Action Committee is a statewide organization of REALTORS® participating in and supporting the political and election process in South Dakota. We are non-partisan and are proud to be able to support candidates that we think will protect and advance the rights of homeowners across South Dakota,” Kneip wrote.
He continued, “We feel that if we are not protecting local homeowners, that they would not have anyone working for them to keep taxes as low as possible. Hopefully, you can understand the decisions of which candidates to support, and at what level, that are made by that committee needs to remain confidential.”
The $3,000 recipients are Representative Roger Chase, a Republican from Huron, who’s in a four-way race for two House seats in Beadle County; and Brooke Abdallah, a Democrat from Spearfish, and Scott Odenbach, a Republican from Spearfish, who are running in a three-way race for two House seats from Lawrence County. All three have connections to the real estate field.
The REALTORS also gave $63,000 to legislative candidates ahead of the June primary elections, according to their pre-primary report. Those donations of $1,000 or $2,000 apiece went to 40 people, including some challengers and many incumbents, and many Republicans but some Democrats.
In 2018, the REALTORS distributed more than $80,000 to legislative candidates ahead of the November general election, in amounts of $500 or $1,000. They also gave $20,000 to Republican Kristi Noem that August in her contest for governor against Democrat Billie Sutton.
The spring of 2018 saw the REALTORS donate $500 or $1,000 to some legislative primary candidates, as well as to some running for local offices, including $2,500 each to Paul TenHaken and Jolene Loetcher in the Sioux Falls mayor’s race.