Open & Honest Government Initiative

South Dakota taxpayers deserve an open and accountable government they can trust. I have a proven record fighting for government transparency as your Attorney General, and I am committed to making government even more transparent and accountable as your new Governor.

A PROVEN RECORD FIGHTING FOR OPEN & ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT:

  • Leading the Fight Against Corruption: Since I have been Attorney General, my office has recovered over
    $65 million from theft, fraud and corruption. I led the fight against corruption in the federal EB5 program.
    I am currently prosecuting three individuals for corruption at Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, the entity that administrated the federal GEAR-UP program.
  • Created the Open Government Task Force: In 2012, Governor Daugaard and I formed the Open Government Task Force to ensure maximum public access to government records and activity. New laws proposed by the Task Force were passed to create more transparency and penalize anyone who does not comply with open records laws.
  • Whistleblower Protection: I sponsored legislation that was passed to provide whistleblower protections for employees who report any inappropriate self-dealings and conflicts of interest.  I want to encourage state employees or others that see something wrong like EB5 or GEAR UP matters to feel confident reporting without repercussion.
  • Strengthened Conflict of Interest Laws: I sponsored legislation that was passed to make violation of conflict of interest law a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Public officials that illegally take taxpayers’ money violate the public trust and will be held accountable. The legislation also removed the presumption for probation limiting the sentencing discretion for the courts in public corruption cases. Furthermore, the legislation requires state entities to report evidence or wrongdoing to the Office of Attorney General.
  • Mugshots Made Public: I sponsored legislation that was passed to release criminal booking photographs to the public to provide greater transparency in the criminal process, enhance public safety, and further assist the media and the public in the proper identification of individuals in the criminal process.
  • Media Access to the Courtroom: I have never opposed allowing the media in the court room in the cases I prosecute.
  • Open Travel Records: Citizens deserve to know exactly how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent by public offices. I have challenged all candidates for governor who work for state or federal government to release their detailed travel records.

THE NEXT PHASE TO CREATE EVEN MORE TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY:

South Dakota has improved its US Public Interest Research Group transparency rating from a D+ to an A- since 2011.  We have made significant progress to make government more transparent and accountable. However, more must be done.

As your new Governor, I will:

  • Initiate a New Open Government Task Force: I will bring all interested parties back to the table to discuss what more the state can do to become even more transparent and accountable. I believe government information should be open and easily accessible. We will review ways to make even more state communications and records available to the public, including email and phone records.
  • Strengthen the Government Accountability Board: I was the first statewide elected official in my party to endorse an accountability commission to enforce ethics laws and bring more accountability to government. One of the priorities of the new Open Government Task Force will be to find ways to strengthen the Government Accountability Board and submit a proposal to the legislature for approval.
  • Strengthen Open Meetings Law: I will support legislation to further strengthen and clarify state open meetings laws to prevent government entities from abusing executive sessions to hide information from the public.
  • Innovative Open Government: I am committed to utilizing new technologies and innovation to further improve access to government records. Technology continues to give us new ways to make information more accessible to the public. We also have the ability to better archive public records and make them more easily searchable by the public. New technologies also give us the ability to broadcast meetings more efficiently than ever before.Recent examples of how the state is better utilizing technology include:
    • The creation of the Boards and Commissions Portal serving as a central hub for over 100 boards and commissions where the public can easily find minutes, documents, agendas, and other information;
    • The creation of Administrative Rules Website to provide a way for South Dakotans to read proposed administrative rules and give input.
    • Revamped Open.SD.Gov to make financial data more accessible to taxpayers.
    • The creation of SD.net – a one-stop website for all SDPB streaming that includes legislature, boards and commissions, and high school activities.
  • Confidential settlements: As Attorney General, I have not entered into confidential settlement agreements.
    I will support legislation requiring settlements negotiated by government entities to be public unless confidentiality is necessary to protect victims of crime.
  • Campaign Finance Reform: We need more transparency in our state campaign finance laws. Statewide candidates should be required to report contributions and expenditures more frequently so voters have timely access to campaign finance information. Campaigns should also include employer information for donors and be required to itemize detailed expenditures. We must also reform campaign finance laws to require candidates to disclose when they are coordinating with Super PACS or other organizations. For example, current state law allows candidates to hide behind PACS or other entities and use them to attack their opponent. If a candidate is using a third party to make political attacks, the voters deserve to know about it and know who is paying for it.