On Oct. 25, state Sen. Dan Lederman posted a message on the Internet site for his Rushmore political action committee. Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, announced an “ad campaign directed at Weiland hypocrisy.” His first sentence said:
“After campaigning on the premise of “telling the billionaires and special interests that they can’t buy South Dakota” it turns out that 63% of Mr. Weiland’s campaign donations have come from out of state and that ads attacking his opponent, Mike Rounds, came from dark money and Soros funding.”
Five paragraphs later, his message concluded:
“The Campaign advertisements include a full page advertisement which will appear in several newspapers, as well as a 60 second radio advertisement, with both pointing out the inconsistencies of Rick Weiland’s words and his deeds.”
As we know, Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds went on to get more than 50 percent of the vote and defeat Democratic candidate Rick Weiland and others in the Nov. 4 election for a South Dakota seat in the U.S. Senate.
On Monday, the final day of the 2015 legislative session, Lederman publicly declared he was resigning immediately from his seat in the state Senate to spend more time with his family. The quality of the long message he posted on the Internet site for his campaign made clear that some time had been spent preparing to make the announcement.
What we also now know is the Federal Election Commission has been looking lately at the activities of Lederman’s Rushmore PAC from last fall during the period of the anti-Weiland advertising. The FEC sent a series of letters to the PAC’s treasurer, Blake Jenness; one is dated March 19 and the subsequent two are dated March 23. The letters address various errors and inadequacies of the PAC’s activity reports. An excerpt from one of the March 23 letters covers the period of Oct. 16 through Nov. 24 when Lederman conducted the anti-Weiland advertising:
- Schedule E of your report indicates that your committee may have failed to
timrly file one or more of the required 24 hour report(s) regarding “last minute”
independent expenditures (see attached). A political committee must file a 24
hour report with the Federal Election Commission as specified in 11 CFR
§104.4(c), within 24 hours of any independent expenditures of $1,000 or more
with respect to a given election, made between two and twenty days before an
election. The report must be received by the Commission by 11:59 p.m. on the
day following the date on which independent expenditures that aggregate
$1,000 or more are publicly distributed or disseminated. These expenditures
must then be fully itemized on Schedule E, or as memo entries on Schedule E
and reflected on Schedule D if distributed or disseminated prior to payment, of
the next report required to be filed by the committee. Although the
Commission may take further action concerning this matter, your prompt
response will be taken into consideration. (11 CFR §104.3(b))
Lederman’s PAC filed three such “independent expenditure” reports on Oct. 28 covering 10 purchases of radio time and newspaper space. A fourth such report was filed Oct. 31 covering one additional purchase of newspaper space. Those however, based on the FEC letter, evidently didn’t cover all of the purchases listed on the report filed Dec. 1 covering the period of Oct. 16 through Nov. 24. This error doesn’t appear to rise to the level of a federal penalty, however, based on the final sentence from the FEC excerpt above regarding “your prompt response will be taken into consideration.”
However, these FEC letters draw attention to what Lederman accomplished in a very short span of time against Weiland through the Rushmore PAC’s federal side. Lederman collected $5,000 contributions from Jeff and Tammy Broin of Dell Rapids, Todd Broin of Sioux Falls, Donna and Paul Christen of Huron, Harry Christianson of Rapid City, Dana Dykehouse of Sioux Falls, Jeff and Linda Erickson of Sioux Falls, Thomas Everist of Sioux Falls, Holly and Mike Hesse of Dakota Dunes, Ted Hustead of Wall, Cynthia and Harvey Jewett of Aberdeen, Dan Kirby of Sioux Falls, Steve and Suzette Kirby of Sioux Falls, Marlys Lawrence of Sioux Falls, Scott Lawrence of Sioux Falls, John Link of Nokomis, Florida, and Gary and Susan Reichling of Lucas, Texas. Lederman also brought in $2,500 contributions from Garry Jacobson of Sioux Falls, Craig Lawrence of Sioux Falls, and William Metz of Sioux City, Iowa, and $1,000 from Mark Griffin of Sioux Falls. The $123,500 of itemized contributions paid for the $115,294.77 of independent expenditures against Weiland, covered some operational expenses for the Rushmore federal PAC and provided $5,000 to Friends of Dan Lederman, his state Senate campaign account, and $500 to the Rushmore state-level PAC Lederman also operates.
The Rushmore PAC as a whole lists two advisory board members. They are state Rep. Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, who now is the House Republican majority leader; and Jacob Millner, director of government affairs for the Minnesota Dental Association. At the state campaign level, the Rushmore PAC has been involved in many legislative campaigns, providing three-figure donations to candidates, but also has made some four-figure contributions in various contests. For example, Rushmore PAC provided $2,700 three years ago to the mayoral campaign of state Sen. Mark Kirkeby, R-Rapid City, and $3,450 to Kirkeby’s state Senate campaign; $1,000 to the campaign of Rounds; and $3,500 last year to state Attorney General Marty Jackley as he ran for re-election and $1,000 to Gosch.
In the new era of federal campaigns where money equals speech and therefore activities blur, it might seem to no longer be a contradiction that the Rushmore PAC could launch an “independent expenditures” advertising blitz against Weiland in late October, approximately six weeks after the Rushmore PAC also hosted a “Speakers Series” event where Rounds and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa were the features guests at a brunch Aug. 16 at Eldon’s Restaurant in Sioux City.
Given his past actions, It wouldn’t be a surprise in the months ahead to see Dan Lederman take an active role in raising and coordinating contributions in South Dakota and Iowa for a candidate seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. For now, he says, he is focused on the debt he owes his family.
UPDATE: The FEC posted amended reports Tuesday night from Blake Jenness as well as an explanatory note from him that he had tried to timely file the 24-hour notice reports. Jenness said two were late by a day each.