Those darn campaign finance reports

South Dakota’s J.A.I.L.ers have filed an amended campaign finance report, trying to fix the earlier one that wasn’t accepted for filing. Evidently, those pesky reports seem to be hard for the J.A.I.L.ers to figure out.

To start with, the cover letter says the Amendment E proponents are filing a “the year end report.” That’s odd. The year tain’t quite over. Moreover, what the law requires is a mid-year statement and one filed the last Tuesday before the election that is complete through the 10th day prior to that election. Then, the report, which covers the period through June 28, of the report shows unpaid “debts and obligations” totaling just under $111,500, all from South Dakota Bill Stegmeier or one of his two businesses. Yet the summary understates that by $100,000.

These errors are likely akin to typographical mistakes. Yet one thing that is more inexplicable remains: the report still omits more than 60 percent of the donors the J.A.I.L.ers claimed earlier this year.

There’s no doubt who the major contributor is. The debts listed on the report include loans of $98,500 by Stegmeier and one of his businesses. The report also lists Stegmeier as president of his other business in connection with a contribution of just more than $54,000. That means that less than $10,000 was contributed by individuals for whom addresses are given and more than half of that come from one individual in Oregon. Of those contributors with addresses listed, only nine come from South Dakota (one is a PAC) and their contributions total less than $600. Of just under $3,500 in contributions from individuals that evidently came through PayPal, roughly 10 percent is from Stegmeier. As a result, it appears that rather than “South Dakota all the way,” Amendment E is basically “Stegmeier all the way.”

And speaking of campaign finance reports, loopy publicist Bonnie Russell has criticized the No on E campaign for not reporting contributions it has received since June 30, 2006. Russell, of course, would not be aware that the law doesn’t require a report until the Tuesday before the election. After all, her “South Dakotan’s [sic] for Amendment E” has yet to file a campaign finance report despite the fact it certainly appears to be raising and spending money for the adoption of the initiative.

Yes, those campaign finance laws certainly appear too difficult and pesky to file or even fill out accurately. But then, why should people always invoking the word “accountability” ever want to be accountable themselves?

Good men prefer to be accountable.

Michael Edwardes

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