Ethics: Being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice,
especially the standards of a profession. Ex: It was not considered ethical for physicians
to advertise. – Dictionary.com
The good news is that members of the South Dakota Legislature can attend the state
Historical Society reception this week in Pierre without fear of legal reprisal.
After voters passed Initiated Measure 22 in November, lawmakers were thrown into a
Ethics reform? Limiting campaign contributions? Draining the swamp, Pierre style?
All were trumpeted by advocates of Initiated Measure 22, led by former U.S. Senate
Candidate Rick Weiland, a Democrat, and Rapid City financial guru Don Frankenfeld, a
Such was the panic that a solid brigade of GOP lawmakers challenged the
constitutionality of the amendment and was rewarded with an injunction issued by Circuit
Court Judge Mark Barnett. Which means that lawmakers can continue to attend such
functions as the state Historical Society reception, and the South Dakota Newspaper Day
lunch later this month. No timeline has been established for the issue to be resolved.
In recently re-reading the 27-page, 70 section initiated measure, the only logical route
for lawmakers to take is total repeal.
Ethical reform is a laudable goal, but the state can do better.
Not to say this will be a popular path for legislators to follow, because the primary
impetus for the measure in the first place was a belief that GOP dominance at the
statehouse was not only unhealthy, it contributed somehow to the scandals involving EB-
5 and the Mid-Central Educational Co-op, which gave the state a black eye.
Never mind that these are part-time lawmakers, and not charged with such oversight.
That job would more fairly fall to the State Auditor or the Attorney General.
You must give credit to South Dakotans for Ethics Reform, which sponsored Initiated
Measure 22. The group did a masterful job of selling the public a pig in a poke, and in
the bargain, was able to get taxpayer funding of campaigns for those seeking elective
office. The irony was that a Massachusetts’s based group, Represent Us, largely
underwrote the campaign with a donation of $228,000.
Lawmakers take their political lives in their hands when they attempt to overturn what
voters have decreed at the ballot box. (See minimum wage for teens outcome). But
Initiated Measure 22 is different. It was poorly drafted — in places is incomprehensible —
and these flaws are apart from the constitutional questions.
Lawmakers this session would do the state a service by getting rid of the measure and
appointing a bipartisan commission to draft a new ethics document that is clear and
Jan. 11, 2017