AG’s Office to investigate billboards targeting impeachment committee members

Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) and House Minority Leader Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls) have asked the Secretary of State to investigate impeachment billboards that began popping up around Sioux Falls.
Fallout from impeachment billboard campaign continues
Fallout from impeachment billboard campaign continues
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 1:03 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - Members of South Dakota House leadership want the origins of billboards targeting impeachment committee members investigated.

That is what State Rep. Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls) and Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) said in a letter to Secretary of State Steve Barnett dated March 28.

Gosch and Smith were two of the lawmakers targeted by the billboards, which began appearing in the Sioux Falls area on March 14. Others that were targeted include Speaker Pro Tempore Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), Rep. Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish), and Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls). Odenbach was the only person not serving on the House committee considering the impeachment of Ravnsborg, and both Smith and Haugaard are currently seeking to unseat Gov. Kristi Noem.

Officials from both Noem’s office and campaign have denied having anything to do with the billboards or the organization behind them, the “Dakota Institute for Legislative Solutions.” That group, which launched on March 7, said in its initial announcement that they were founded to “generate support for Gov. Noem’s agenda.”

The complaint formally alleges a violation of campaign finance law, a claim that Gosch and other members targeted by the billboards had previously alleged upon finding out about their creation.

South Dakota Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) and Minority Leader Jamie Smith...
South Dakota Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) and Minority Leader Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls) have submitted a complaint to the Secretary of State's office alleging that a billboard campaign targeting them violated state campaign finance law.(Submitted)

“I’m tired of the recent corruption and dark money in South Dakota,” Gosch said in a comment to Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News.

Secretary of State Barnett did not respond to a request for comment. However, the Attorney General’s office confirmed that they were aware of the complaint after having received it from the Secretary of State’s office.

“At this time the Office of the Attorney General has the two complaints forwarded to us by the Secretary of State,” said Chief of Staff Tim Bormann. “A decision has not been made on whether this will be handled internally or if it will be handled by an outside entity. Once that decision is made as to whether this is handled internally or externally, the next decision will be the process for investigation and/or enforcement of the issue - to be decided by who is handling it.”

The billboard campaign was the latest in a string of issues that Gosch and other committee members alleged impeded upon the impeachment process.

In February, members of the impeachment committee and their constituents began receiving phone calls from a “Grand Solutions Inc.,” calling for the impeachment of Ravnsborg. A voicemail obtained by Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News appeared to implicate Noem of being involved in that scheme. However, both her office and campaign have denied having any involvement in that.

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