Corruption Risk Report Card
Rank among 50 states: 49th

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The story behind the score

With few ethics laws, weak disclosure requirements, and a big loophole in its campaign finance regulations, South Dakota ranks second from the bottom on the State Integrity Index.  Read more from SII State Reporter Denise Ross.

Latest state news for South Dakota

Lack of limits on PAC, party contributions takes teeth out of individual limits.

By Denise Ross


In South Dakota, the ease with which campaign cash moves around has mostly put power in the hands of those who already had it — the wealthy and the state's top elected officials.


Because of lax regulations regarding how money can flow into and out of political action committees, political party funds and individual candidate funds, the state's top officeholders are able to legally skirt existing fundraising limits and get relatively large sums into campaign coffers with little effort.

State integrity news for South Dakota, from the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader:

Almost 30 candidates for Legislature have no campaign finance reports on the secretary of state’s website almost a week after the submission deadline — and days before Tuesday’s election.

Candidates are required to submit reports of the donations they receive and how they spend that money before each election. The missing information reflect both candidates failing to submit reports on time and difficulties with a new online system Secretary of State Jason Gant has implemented to track campaign spending at

Read the rest of the story at the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader.

Corruption news for South Dakota, from the Argus Leader:

To better gauge how the money is spent, the Argus Leader requested copies of the applications each company must fill out to qualify for the construction rebate program. The single-page application includes a project description, company officers, an estimated cost, construction dates and the name of the contractor.

But the Department of Revenue denied the request on grounds that the application is tax information and therefore private. Subsequent requests to have the department provide only the information, or summaries of it, rather than copies of the actual applications, also were denied. The department’s legal staff said disclosing the information would be a crime.

Read the rest of the story at the Argus Leader.

South Dakota Representative Jon Hansen thinks transparent campaign financing is worth more than $50 a day. That’s the fine that the state assesses campaigns for late reports, with a maximum total penalty of $3,000.

But Hansen (R-Dell Rapids) doesn’t like that wealthy campaigns can just put off filing a report until they see fit -- or, in some cases, until after a nomination or election.

“In South Dakota our filing deadlines, as they are, are very close to an actual election,” Hansen said. “And that makes sense on one level, because you want to be able to see as many contributors to a candidate’s campaign as possible. But it does make it easy to say, ‘Oops, I forgot to file,’ and just wait until after an election to file a report.”

Corruption news for South Dakota, from the Rapid City Journal:

A measure aimed at ensuring that candidates for public office file their required campaign finance reports won support Wednesday from a South Dakota legislative panel. The State Affairs Committee voted 9-4 to endorse a bill that would prevent anyone who fails to file a campaign finance report from running for office in a later election.

The proposal would prevent people from being certified as candidates if they had failed to file any campaign finance report, amendment or correction in a previous campaign.

Read the rest of the story at the Rapid City Journal.

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