Visualizing U.S. Senate fundraising

People who have followed fundraising totals in South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race know the basic facts: Mike Rounds has raised by far the most, Nelson and Rhoden have raised the least, Weiland has been steady but unimpressive, and Bosworth has raised a lot of money from nationwide donors in unusual circumstances.

But here’s a way to visualize that fundraising at a glance. I used a tool called a heat map, which represents the density of points on a table, to map the cities the five candidates have raised money from. (This isn’t counting unitemized donations.)

Here, for example, is Stace Nelson's fundraising heat map:

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(Larger interactive version) You can see Nelson has raised almost all his money in South Dakota, in a series of scattered clumps — not too much money in any one place. He also has a big clump in the Mitchell area, Nelson’s back yard. 

Contrast that with Larry Rhoden's fundraising:

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(Larger interactive version) Rhoden has a lot less support in eastern South Dakota, but dominates West River. Rhoden also has a teensy bit more nationwide support, but nothing significant.

Annette Bosworth, on the other hand:

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(Larger interactive version) South Dakota is almost barren. Bosworth has raised a lot more money than Rhoden and Nelson, but far less in South Dakota. Instead, Bosworth’s map is dotted with yellow, reflecting a lot of scattered fundraisign around the country, but few real concentrations. She does have a disproportionate amount from Florida and the eastern seaboard, as well as the metro areas Denver and Chicago. All this fits with Bosworth’s direct mail-based approach of targeting conservative donors — often retired — around the country.

Here’s Rick Weiland:

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(Larger interactive version) Weiland has a broad national base of support, as well as a fair amount of donations from South Dakota. He’s not as concentrated in a few South Dakota cities as Rhoden and Nelson are, but significant portions of the map are covered with yellow and red. Weiland also has a big cluster in Washington, D.C. — despite his lack of support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — and is strong in Boston and San Francisco.

Finally, there’s Mike Rounds:

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(Larger interactive version) Rounds has raised a lot more money than anyone, and that’s reflected on the map. He’s collected money from a huge swathe of South Dakota, with a particular concentration in the Sioux Falls area. Rounds has also taken in a lot of money in the nation’s big cities: D.C. (but less prominently than Weiland), Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.

Jason Ravnsborg and Larry Pressler have yet to report any significant fundraising.

Here’s all the interactive links in one place:

Rounds files nominating petitions

Gov. Mike Rounds became the fourth U.S. Senate candidate to file his nominating petitions this cycle today, according to his campaign.

Rounds filed more than 7,000 signatures, well over the 1,955 signatures a Republican needs to make the ballot for a statewide office.

Republican state Rep. Stace Nelson was the first Senate candidate to fill petitions, followed by Republican state Sen. Larry Rhoden. Both of their petitions have been approved by Secretary of State Jason Gant, as have those of independent candidate Larry Pressler.

Democrat Rick Weiland and Republicans Annette Bosworth and Jason Ravnsborg, among announced candidates, have yet to file their petitions.

Weiland needs 1,221 valid signatures to make the ballot.

Typically candidates turn in a number of extra signatures as a buffer against some signatures being ruled invalid.

Under the radar, Rep. Kristi Noem has also filed her petitions for reelection. Gant approved them on Friday.

Noem’s Democratic opponent, Corinna Robinson, will be filing her petitions today.

Candidates have until next Tuesday, March 25, to turn in their petitions.

High dudgeon over Nelson resolution

With a standing-room crowd lobbyists and lawmakers watching in amusement, six South Dakota lawmakers met Wednesday morning to discuss the wording of a nonbinding resolution opposing the federal Affordable Care Act.

It was, longtime lobbyists and staff said, possibly the first time a nonbinding resolution had ever been referred to a conference committee in the history of the South Dakota Legislature.

Outspoken Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, had originally proposed a resolution urging Congress to “repeal and defund” the Affordable Care Act. But his resolution also accused South Dakota leaders, including Gov. Dennis Daugaard, of being complicit in the enactment of the controversial law despite Daugaard’s stated opposition and resistance to an expansion of Medicaid.

"Numerous bills have been defeated that sought to nullify and fight this controversial act, while numerous bills were passed that helped enact it and implement it here in the state of South Dakota," Nelson said Wednesday.

In 2011, Daugaard’s administration successfully sought laws updating South Dakota’s insurance regulations to comply with changes in the Affordable Care Act. The state has also received federal grants to study potential implementation of the act’s health insurance exchanges, which Daugaard ultimately left to the federal government to run instead.

But after the House passed Nelson’s resolution, the Senate amended it to remove mentions of where South Dakota had gone along with the act’s provisions. When the resolution came back to the House, Nelson requested a conference committee to resolve the differences between the chambers — and to many lawmakers’ surprise was granted one.

When the committee met on Wednesday morning, it included a key Nelson ally, Rep. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs — but also Sen. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, who is currently suing Nelson over an alleged election law violation.

In the crowd were lobbyists and legislators, including House Speaker Brian Gosch, Speaker Pro Tempore Dean Wink and Assistant Majority Leader Justin Cronin. Gosch, who has clashed with Nelson, was even eating popcorn as he watched. Also there were Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, who is running against Nelson for U.S. Senate, and Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, whose brother Mike is also in the Senate race.

Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, asked the conference committee to kill Nelson’s resolution entirely.

"While our colleagues are in the halls of the Capitol putting the finishing touches on their bills, lobbying for their pet projects or trying to protect the taxpayers in their district… we’re in a committee room talking about a resolution with no force of law that is more about scorecards and postcards than about legislating for the people of South Dakota," Tieszen said.

Tieszen said the Senate had made “a mistake” to amend Nelson’s resolution.

"I don’t think the Senate is prepared to make another mistake," he said.

Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, commended Nelson’s “passion” on the subject but said it was time to “move on.”

Nelson said public opposition to the Affordable Care Act in South Dakota meant this was an issue worth the Legislature’s time.

Conference committee rules require support from at least two of the three members from each chamber. That meant Nelson and Russell blocked Tieszen’s motion to kill the resolution. Tieszen, Lederman and the two Democrats on the committee in turn blocked Nelson’s amendment restoring most of his original language. Finally, lawmakers agreed to dissolve without agreement. The issue now returns to the House and Senate, who are expected to kill the resolution for good.

After record year, lawmakers limit resolutions

This morning, legislative leaders adopted new rules for next year that will limit the number of resolutions lawmakers can offer.

The restriction comes after a record number of resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives, including 11 from Rep. Stace Nelson.

No one will be able to do that next year. Under the rules passed Tuesday by the Legislative Procedure Committee, lawmakers will be limited to introducing four concurrent (nonbinding) resolutions. And three of those have to be introduced before the start of the Legislature’s third week — the ninth day out of 35. This year lawmakers could introduce resolutions up to the 26th day. That will remain the deadline for lawmakers’ fourth and final concurrent resolution.

Now, rules like this wouldn’t necessarily have stopped Nelson from bringing all those resolutions. He’d have just had to get three allies to sponsor bills for him. That already happens with bills, where lawmakers are limited to just three bills in the days before the deadline. If one legislator has already hit his or her limit, they will commonly ask a friend to introduce a bill for them.

But next year’s lawmakers will also have more restrictions on the type of resolutions they can offer. In another rule change, resolutions will no longer be allowed to “memorialize” something or someone.

That would rule out some of Nelson’s resolutions this year, like one “commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812,” and the controversial one honoring former presidential candidate Ron Paul. Other non-Nelson resolutions would also no longer qualify, such as one “recognizing Hot Springs as ‘The Veterans Town’" and another honoring former President Calvin Coolidge.

But as Rep. David Lust noted, this restriction can be bypassed by clever legislators. Resolutions are still allowed if they’re instructing a department of state government or petitioning federal agencies, and a lawmaker could always phrase their resolution as a petition to Congress to honor the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

The leaders on the Legislative Procedure Committee, though, seemed to agree with Rep. Brian Gosch, who said the changes, “combined with some turnover in the Legislature,” probably address “the issue we had this year.”

Sen. Phyllis Heineman had another hope: if South Dakota passes fewer resolutions, she said, perhaps the ones that do pass will be seen with greater weight. As it is, Lust said Tuesday the Legislature could probably abolish concurrent resolutions altogether without any big effect, since they don’t have the force of law and are often ignored.

Flood of resolutions irks some lawmakers

Spencer Hawley was angry.

“I don’t know where to start,” the Democratic state representative from Brookings said Tuesday on the floor of the House of Representatives. “We spend an hour a day doing these resolutions that do nothing. … Don’t waste our time with something that has no impact on the people of South Dakota.”

Hawley’s outburst came amid a debate about a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards. And he’s far from the only lawmaker upset this year at the elevated number of nonbinding resolutions, which declare the Legislature’s opinion but don’t carry the force of law.

There’s “a clear sense” that lawmakers have dealt with too many resolutions this year, said House Majority Leader David Lust, R-Rapid City.

Sen. Shantel Krebs, R-Renner, said she’s heard complaints from constituents about the time lawmakers spend on resolutions.

“I’ve never seen as many resolutions as I’ve seen this year,” said Rep. Hal Wick, R-Sioux Falls, who has served 20 years on and off in the Legislature since the 1970s.

In fact, this year’s 32 nonbinding resolutions are more than either chamber of the Legislature has seen in any year since 1988.

Of the 32, Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, is responsible for 11.

That’s more than all 35 members of the Senate combined have introduced this year, and more than the combined 70 members of the House — including himself — introduced in 2013.

“It’s my fourth year up here. It’s my final year in the Legislature. These are hot-button issues,” Nelson said.

But Nelson also is a candidate for U.S. Senate, running against four other Republicans for the GOP nomination.

Some lawmakers see his resolutions, on topics ranging from the Affordable Care Act to deficit spending to abortion, as spending the Legislature’s time on political gestures.

“Some people need to stop bringing resolutions that serve their own sole interests only,” said Rep. Anne Hajek, R-Sioux Falls, in floor debate Wednesday afternoon on another Nelson resolution, honoring former presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Afterward, Nelson called Hajek’s comment “ignorant” and “inappropriate.”

He said his resolutions dealt with serious issues, or matters of concern to voters around the state.

But Nelson also has used his resolutions tactically in the Legislature. After lawmakers go on record endorsing a principle or concept in a resolution, on more than one occasion Nelson has called them out later when they oppose a bill dealing with a similar subject.

“That’s the theory behind some of these resolutions, to build consensus and education to the public and also the Legislature,” Nelson said.

Though Nelson has sponsored more, and more controversial, resolutions than anyone else, he’s not the sole contributor to this year’s swarm.

Even subtracting the Nelson-sponsored resolutions, the rest of the House members have sponsored more than any House since 2005.

The Senate, meanwhile, has just seven resolutions, similar to the six that senators introduced both in 2013 and 2012.

The experience this year of debating and voting on resolutions has lawmakers ready to put a stop to it. Lust said next year’s legislative rules will limit resolutions somehow — possibly moving up the deadline for their submission, or limiting the number each lawmaker can bring forward.

Tim Rounds, SD House slap down Nelson on Ron Paul resolution

Rep. Stace Nelson, who has introduced a lot of resolutions this year, just got some major pushback with his attempt to sponsor a resolution honoring former presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul.

Instead of simply defeating the resolution, Rep. Tim Rounds — brother to Nelson’s U.S. Senate rival Mike Rounds — moved to amend Nelson’s resolution, deleting everything about Paul and changing instead to a commemoration of every person to represent South Dakota in Congress in its history.

During the debate, Rep. Anne Hajek, R-Sioux Falls, obliquely criticized Nelson:

"We need to move on," Hajek said. "Maybe the message here is some people need to stop bringing resolutions that serve their own sole interests only."

Nelson and a number of his allies were incensed. He called the hijacking “inappropriate” and “one of the most distasteful” things one lawmaker could do to another.

But on a voice vote, the House adopted Rounds’ alternative language, then voted 48-16 to pass the amended resolution. The no votes on that came from Nelson and other very conservative lawmakers.

More on resolutions later — I’ve got a preplanned story on the large number of resolutions this year. Today seems to have been a good day for that to run.

Hoghouse rules

Stace Nelson and Cory Heidelberger are both up in arms about the Legislature’s habit of passing “vehicle bills” — empty bills that do nothing but exist to be amended later with a more substantive proposal. I’ve heard from a few lobbyists with similar thoughts about vehicle bills and “hoghousing,” where the text of a bill is entirely amended.

Cory proposes as a reform the banning of vehicle bills. After six years or so of observing the legislative process, I’m not sure that’s the most urgent reform. But stepping off my normal pedestal of disinterest (as I do occasionally, and only on process issues), here’s what makes sense as a good-government reform of the hoghousing process:

• Any time a bill is amended with a hoghouse, the measure itself cannot pass out of committee or a House on that same day. That means that if a committee meets on Monday and completely changes the bill, it has to wait until at least Tuesday before it can pass the bill. That means the public, and interested parties, have at least a full day to examine the change and talk to lawmakers before the measure passed.

This would also mean, as a practical effect, moving the deadline up by one day to hoghouse a measure. That’s because you couldn’t pass a hoghouse an amendment on the last day for a measure to advance out of a committee or chamber. But I think lawmakers could adapt pretty easily to this rule.

• Secondly, and more complicatedly, I think it would be a good government step if any time a bill is hoghoused, it has to have at least one committee hearing before it can be passed. That would give people a chance to give formal public comment before a final vote. So if a vehicle bill passes the House, passed a Senate committee, and was then hoghoused on the floor, the House couldn’t simply concur with the Senate version and send it to the governor, thus dodging any public hearing on final version of the bill. Instead, the House would have to refer it to a committee first.

This could be tricky to implement, and I haven’t thought through the full implications. But in the interests of a transparent process, I think these two reforms would address a lot of the concerns people have about vehicle bills.

House has no appetite for more debate on sexual orientation

Last night, the House State Affairs Committee killed a bill to protect people’s right to criticize and act against people on the basis of their sexual orientations. 

Today, Rep. Stace Nelson tried to use a “smokeout” to force the defeated bill, House Bill 1251, down to the House floor for a new round of debate.

Only five of 70 representatives stood in support of the motion: Nelson and Reps. Blaine Campbell, Dan Kaiser, Lance Russell and Manny Steele.

It needed support from 24 representatives in order to be revived and placed on the House’s debate calendar. 

Rep. Steve Hickey, who had sponsored similar legislation that was also unsuccessful, said South Dakota lawmakers have debated the issue enough this year.

"There’s been three or four bills like this. I was the author of two of them," Hickey said. "We’ve talked about this in more than just that committee."

Also on Thursday, an attempt by Campbell to revive his bill making it a felony to enforce federal or local gun restrictions in South Dakota failed with around a dozen lawmakers standing out of the 24 needed.

One smokeout attempt did succeed Thursday. Rep. Elizabeth May said House Bill 1215 had a mixup in its hearing, and got well more than half the House to support her. Lawmakers will decide Friday whether to add it to their debate calendar.

Payday loan reform defeated; Hickey to pursue rate cap

Opponents of the payday lending industry will ask voters to ban high-interest loans in 2016 after the defeat Wednesday of compromise legislation.

Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, was preparing to bring an initiated measure banning high-interest loans to the 2014 ballot when payday lending companies reached out to him to propose a deal: instead of banning their industry outright, they would work together on new regulations for payday loans. But the industry came out against Hickey’s compromise Wednesday, saying it was flawed.

"I keep my word," Hickey said after lawmakers sided with the lenders and rejected his measure. "I’m going to the ballot."

Hickey’s proposal, to ban interest rates higher than 36 percent per year, would effectively put payday, title and signature loans out of business. The fee structure those businesses use reflect interest rates of 300 percent, 500 percent or more over a full year — though the companies say a yearly interest rate isn’t a good way to describe their short-term loans.

Representatives of Advance America, Dollar Loan Center and Direct Check all testified against the bill, saying the restrictions on the industry would hurt business and might drive customers to unregulated online lenders.

"There’s such a thing as using regulations to strangle an industry. I think that might be the case here," said Harry Christianson, a lobbyist for North American Title Loans.

Though Hickey’s original intention was to eliminate payday lending, he said he was offering a genuine “meet in the middle” compromise with his legislation. Fourteen other states have passed similar regulations, including Florida, and in all those states he said payday and similar lending models are profitable.

Carol Stewart, a senior vice president for Advance America, said her they “live with” and “work under” similar regulations to Hickey’s proposal. But while they may be tolerable, Stewart said they’re not desirable.

"None of this we feel is necessary for the way we operate in this state," Stewart said.

The bill defeated Wednesday morning would have allowed all borrowers to change their mind and cancel the loan within 24 hours. It would have created a state-run database to enforce existing laws limiting how many loans a consumer can have, and set aside money for credit counseling and financial education.

Also opposed to the reforms was the state division of banking, which said Hickey’s reforms would require a lot of work to administer — a change of pace for one of the smallest state banking regulators in the country.

Division director Bret Afdahl said he has only two full-time workers overseeing 400 different moneylenders, not enough to handle extra work of managing a database and cracking down more heavily on violations.

Afdahl also expressed philosophical resistance to tightening regulation of payday lenders.

"It would be a large intrusion by the government into the private sector," Afdahl said. "Maybe with good goals in mind, but it would be a big change for our state."

Though lawmakers didn’t focus on the logistical difficulties raised by Afdahl in their statements before voting to kill the bill, Hickey said opposition from Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s administration was crucial.

"If the administration of the banking division is for it, there it gives everybody here a lot of comfort," Hickey said. "We rarely see somebody bucking the administration."

Stewart also highlighted the state’s opposition.

"I work around the country with numerous policymakers on how best to regulate this industry and to allow access to credit," said Stewart. "I’ve never in any state… passed major regulation like this without the regulator being at the table and having some say in how the industry would be regulated."

Lawmakers on Wednesday largely sided with the lending industry’s arguments that they are already regulated and provide a needed service to people with little money and poor credit.

"These businesses provide a service to the people… who can’t go to the bank and get a short-term loan," said Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre.

Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City, said that “although this industry does turn some people’s stomach, it’s necessary.”

And Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said “the free market can regulate” payday lending, and “has.”

Hickey said his conversations with the payday lending industry started to go wrong in early January.

"When I came to Pierre (this year), you could start to feel it," Hickey said. "All of a sudden they take issue, ‘I don’t know, we’re a long way from supporting it.’ I’m like, ‘A long way? You gave me the bill.’"

Jamie Fulmer, another executive with Advance America, said his company wasn’t necessarily opposed to any particular aspect of Hickey’s bill. Instead, it was the “bill in its totality” that he objected to.

Mike Hanna has followed payday loan reforms in multiple states for his company Veritec Solutions, which runs databases of payday loans such as Hickey’s bill called for. He had another explanation for why the industry opposed the South Dakota measure but worked with lawmakers in states like Kentucky.

"They knew they had the votes where they didn’t need to come to the table (in South Dakota)," Hanna said. "When the pressure is on them enough, they come to the table."

Fulmer said it “certainly wasn’t our intent” to deceive Hickey, and hoped to continue negotiations. Lawmakers voting to kill the bill said the same thing.

"I hope the sponsor doesn’t get disheartened and he’ll keep working on this," said Rep. Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls.

But Hickey said he’s done negotiating.

"This is a bunch of games. These people expressly told me to put this stuff in the bill, and now they’re here opposing it," Hickey said. "They should have been in here supporting the bill. But instead they’re going to face a rate cap."

Fired-up Rounds sticks with partisan red meat in GOP dinner speech

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds unveiled a high-energy stump speech Tuesday night at the first major political event of this year’s Republican primary.

Rounds, a former governor and one of five candidates seeking the Republican nomination, avoided his prior themes of his experience and pragmatic approach to government. Instead, speaking to his hometown crowd at the Hughes and Stanley County Republican parties’ annual dinner, Rounds nearly yelled at times in his call to “take back our country” with “good, solid South Dakota common sense.”

The other four Republican candidates for U.S. Senate all gave their own speeches at the event, hitting their own themes.

Annette Bosworth, a first-time candidate and the second-youngest in the field, emphasized her outsider status and youth.

"The next generation of Republicans need to be attracted to the table and engaged in the process," Bosworth said. "It’s part of why I run."

Stace Nelson, who says he’s the most conservative candidate running, talked about his support for the South Dakota Republican Party’s platform and made a series of position pledges.

"I will not vote for tax increases," Nelson said. "I will vote to cut government. I will vote to cut spending. I will vote with conservatives to defund Obamacare… I will not vote for judges who do not respect life and marriage, period."

Jason Ravnsborg, a Yankton attorney and Army reservist, was the only speaker to criticize presumptive Democratic nominee Rick Weiland by name. But Ravnsborg also urged practicality, saying Republicans need to have alternatives to big government programs they criticize.

"Obamacare, we’re all against it… but we can’t just simply say no. People won’t stand for that," said Ravnsborg, who endorsed Sen. Tom Coburn’s "Patient CARE Act" bill as a replacement.

And Larry Rhoden, a rancher and state legislative leader, said the next senator needs to have both conservative values and the ability to get results.

Strong principles and a backbone “mean little if you don’t possess the leadership skills to bring people together,” Rhoden said.

Tuesday’s event was the first time all five Republican U.S. Senate candidates have appeared at the same event. It also came on the same day that Nelson turned in his nominating petitions — the first candidate to complete that necessary step to gain access to the ballot.

Rounds, who hasn’t appeared on the ballot since his reelection bid in 2006, spent most of his speech blasting the Environmental Protection Agency, generalized government bureaucracy, and tax increases. But he also downplayed the ideological differences between himself and his rivals, most of whom have positioned themselves as a more conservative alternative to Rounds.

"You’re not going to find a whole lot of difference between all of us when it comes to the principles we believe in," Rounds said.

South Dakota Republicans will pick their nominee in the June 3 primary election. Candidates have until March 25 to file nominating petitions to make the ballot.

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