South Dakota J.A.I.L.er-in-Chief Bill Stegmeier’s Judicial Accountability committee (a/k/a “the BS committee) has filed its pre-election campaign finance report. To say it makes interesting reading is an understatement. In fact, it might even border on a criminal reading.
Let’s start with the bottom line. The BS committee brought in $28,348.90 in contributions, of which $25,902.90, or 91 percent, came from Stegmeier, clearly earning it the name “the BS committee.” The largest individual contributor other than Stegmeier is John Ludtke, Sr., of Jackson, Michigan, who threw $500 into the pot. Including those two, the J.A.I.L. campaign had a whopping 30 individual contributors. Not a good sign for a campaign that claims to be advocating the interests of “we the people” and a grassroots effort.
The BS committee appears to have a little problem filling out forms or being honest, though. For example, the report summary says that there were total direct contributions of $28,348.90 but that it’s “total of all receipts” was $26,025.79.
Apparently, the BS committee believes that receipts and expenditures mean the same thing or else it’s a handwritten typo. That’s because the report lists total expenditures of $26,025.79. But the schedule itemizing those expenditures gives the following breakdown:
Perhaps my calculator is broken but the total of those figures is $10,000 less than the total reported expenditures. Again, it may be a typo but since Stegmeier has to certify the report is “true, correct and complete,” you’d think he might take the time to check the math. Along the lines of that certification, isn’t it odd that the travel expenses are $150 on the nose?
Perhaps even more pertinent is when it comes to the campaign’s debts and obligations. The form, and state law, require the committee report all of the “campaign obligations that are unpaid at the end of the reporting period.” The report lists none. Why is that interesting? Because the BS committee’s prior campaign finance report showed debts and obligations of more than $111,000. Even if the $10,000 missing from the list of expenditures was used to pay those debts, more than $100,000 in debts somehow magically disappeared or were paid without a trace over a four-month period in which the committee raised less than $3,000 from anyone other than Stegmeier. While most of those prior debts were to Stegmeier or his businesses, if Stegmeier forgave those debts, it would certainly seem that would constitute income or contributions that should be reported.
There’s another conspicuous absence in the section of the report dealing with fund raising events. It, too, is blank even though the BS committee had at least eight showings statewide of the “movie” America: From Freedom to Fascism at the cost of $12 a head. All those showings took place before the end of the period covered by the finance report. Does this mean, then, that the BS committee sold no tickets or incurred no cost in putting those showings on?
According to the report, which covers the period from June 29 to October 28, the BS committee began the period with just over $1,500 on hand. It ended the period with about $800 more, ignoring the more than $100,000 in debt that somehow magically disappeared. That is what perhaps led Bonnie “Shriek” Russell to bemoan the fact the BS committee can’t afford advertisements. That’s really too bad. Their ads are about as effective as anyone could get at showing just what extremists these people are
Finally, speaking of “Shriek,” the report makes no reference to her “South Dakotan’s (sic) for Amendment E” nor does the Secretary of State’s office yet show a filing from any such organization. Once again, it appears the campaign finance laws don’t mean much to those who believe they are above the government.
And that’s really the bottom line. The BS committee can scream and yell all it wants about where No on E is getting its money. But at least No on E is following the law and being accountable to the public. You know, good ol’ accountability — the word the BS committee and their ilk toss around but don’t believe in.
The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge; it is always simple and direct.