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Lawsuit Filed To Stop IM22

Kealey Bultena

Opponents of Initiated Measure 22 arechallenging the constitutionality of the campaign reforms approved by voters earlier this month.

A group of state lawmakers, lobbyists, and citizens filed a lawsuit against IM22 in Hughes County Court Wednesday afternoon.

Supporters of IM 22 say this lawsuit goes against the will of voters.

The lawsuit against Initiated Measure 22 calls the ethics commission and publicly funded campaign system unconstitutional. In addition to that, the complaint says IM 22 infringes free speech by limiting campaign contributions.

Tony Venhuizen is Governor Dennis Daugaard’s chief of staff. He says IM 22 is poorly drafted legislation with unintended consequences.

“You could read this law to say that if a state legislator has a spouse who’s a teacher in the Sioux Falls school district, that the spouse is committing a crime just by accepting a normal salary. Well that’s crazy," Venhuizen says. "There isn’t anyway any of the voters would want that to be the case and it’s clearly that this was an initiative that was very, very sloppily drafted and that was not clearly explained. In fact, they went out of their way to explain not what it would do.”

Plaintiffs also claim Democracy Credits program within IM22 violates equal protections and rights of the first amendment.

Rick Weiland is a former democratic Senate candidate who backed IM22.

He says the lack of checks and balances in Pierre necessitated the change in the law.  Including an independent ethics commission to watch over the legislature… Weiland says he’s not surprised at the backlash against the measure.

“Any time you try to change a system that’s been left unchanged for decades you raise a lot of concerns," Weiland says. "People are used to doing business a certain way and now the voters have decided we need more checks and balances. IM 22 not only deals with campaign finance components, but also corruption and accountability.”

Weiland points to the consistentfailing grade South Dakota receives from the Center for Public Integrity.

Weiland says with IM 22 South Dakota leads the nation in government accountability.  Supporters of IM 22 say establishment insiders in Pierre should not tamper with the will of the voters.