Lawmakers will debate Governor Kristi Noem’s two pipeline construction legal funds bills starting Wednesday morning.
The governor says one of those bills sets up a fund that focuses on pursuing lawsuits against those who help fund what she calls “riot boosting.”
When asking if this implicates anyone who posts bail for an individual, or who gives gas money to someone who ends up arrested, an email from the governor’s spokeswoman says, “the bill’s focus is on individuals and entities that use their wealth to support and encourage acts of violence or rioting.”
The email goes on to say, “Those pursuing legal remedies would be looking for evidence the support was intended to cause such violence or rioting. These cases could be very fact-intensive and it would be up to a judge and jury to decide the outcome of a given situation.”
Noem says the bill is aimed to prevent out-of-state paid protestors from coming in and causing riots. She points to pipeline demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline. When asked for examples of out-of-state donors, she points to a wealthy, Jewish philanthropist…
“I’d say the most typical national offender that we see funding these types of activities would be George Soros,” Noem says. “Those types of entities that want to come in and create disruption on a build, with this infrastructure, is what we’re hoping to shut down.”
A spokeswoman for Open Society Foundations, a George Soros backed non-profit, says there was no involvement in North Dakota.
Laura Silber says Soros and the Foundations oppose violence of any sort. She says it’s odd the governor is seeking to tarnish the recent surge in citizen activism.
“And to suggest that somebody is paying for these people to turnout and protest and do someone’s bidding that’s paid for by Mr. Soros or anyone else, it does a grave disservice to these people who are standing up and making their voices heard,” Silber says. “Whether that’s in South Dakota or anywhere else in this country.”
Silber says in the past, the Open Society Foundations has funded Women’s Health programs for Native Americans, and prisoner reentry programs in South Dakota.