Citizens United: South Dakota’s response


The Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case has rendered 24 state election laws unconstitutional. The 5-4 ruling in favor of Citizens United reversed a provision of the McCain-Feingold act that prohibited any electioneering communication—defined as advertising via broadcast, cable or satellite that is paid for by corporations or labor unions. Many states have acted fast to counter corporations’ ability to spend endless amounts of money to influence elections by passing laws that force disclosure of all independent expenditures in near real time. The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has decided to report what each of these states is doing to respond to the highly-contested ruling. We’re going state by state, and now onto South Dakota:

State: South Dakota
Bill: HB 1053
Passed: Yes

After the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case, the state of South Dakota had to repeal all laws prohibiting independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions. According to South Dakota’s Secretary of State, Chris Nelson, those prohibitions, “have been replaced with some very stringent laws.”

The law passed in South Dakota is similar to one passed by Arizona in that it requires a disclosure statement be filed for any electioneering communication (advertisement). The main difference is South Dakota allows disclosure within 48 hours of the broadcast of any advertisement paid for by an independent expenditure, while Arizona only gives organizations 24 hours to file. All disclosures are supposed to be available to the public via the Secretary of State’s Website

The disclosure will contain information regarding the organization making the expenditure, the amount spent and a description of the content of the advertisement, such as whether the money was for or against a certain candidate. Disclosures have to be filed only if a minimum of one thousand dollars is spent.