Politics & Policy

Re: Feeding Election Controversy

Update: South Dakota State Attorney General Attorney General Marty Jackley just spoke with National Review Online about the reservation “feeds” controversy in the state’s House race. He was careful to clarify that he, at this point, makes no accusations, and is not actively investigating South Dakota Democrats in particular. Here’s what he told NRO: 

In South Dakota, we had similar concerns in 1996 and 1998. Then United States Attorney Karen Schreier, and Attorney General Mark Barnett, addressed the issue with a join cautionary letter. I and United States Attorney Brendan Johnson took the same approach with a letter that set forth the law, both the state statues and the federal statutes. It was very carefully sent to both political parties, all major candidates for public office, Republicans and Democrats, and it was careful to make no allegations, only a cautionary ‘this is what the law is.’ What I’m saying is, the state has received various complaints about offering of food in exchange for or to induce voting. We are treating the matter under our normal procedure of accepting any information and making further determinations as the facts may justify. I have been and will continue to be in conversation with Brendan Johnson, the United States Attorney, along with various state attorneys that may have jurisdiction over some of the allegations. It’s my responsibility as Attorney General to keep this election fair, to avoid voter repression, or have anybody take any advantage of voters.


The way the law is written under state law is, “You cannot provide a thing of value to induce voting.” That’s a Class 2 misdemeanor. Under federal law, it’s a similar concept: “You cannot provide a thing of value in exchange for voting.” That’s a misdemeanor. But if it’s done willfully, it’s a felony. Now, it’s not inappropriate to have feeds. Where it becomes a concern is where it’s directed to induce voting or in exchange for votes. 

But, be careful with the word investigating. We’re treating this as normal, for now. We’re receiving this information and taking a look at it.


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