South Dakota’s Anti-Corruption Amendment
This November, South Dakotans will vote on Amendment W, also known as the South Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment.
Amendment W was written by conservatives, progressives, and independent South Dakotans in response to voter forums held across the state. The measure is designed to stop political corruption and increase accountability in South Dakota.
You can read the full text of the Amendment here. Here's what Amendment W would do for South Dakota—and what it would mean for South Dakotans when passed.
What is Amendment W?
Amendment W includes the most popular provisions that a majority of South Dakota's voters already approved back in 2016 with the passage of IM-22.
The 2016 Anti-Corruption Act was repealed by politicians, and Amendment W is the voter's response to return these anti-corruption provisions to state law.
Here's what Amendment W would do:
1) Restrict Lobbyist Gifts to Politicians
Right now there are gaping loopholes that allow special interests to give gifts to politicians and wine and dine them. Amendment W closes these loopholes and prevents lobbyists from having undue influence over politicians.
2) Ban Foreign Money from South Dakota Politics
Amendment W bans foreign governments from spending money in South Dakota elections, and reinstates South Dakota’s prohibition on corporate and union donations to candidates. It also lowers contribution limits, stopping big-money donors from having an outsized influence in political campaigns.
3) Ensure Ethical Behavior in South Dakota Government
South Dakota is one of only seven states without an ethics commission. As a result, South Dakota has no independent and nonpartisan source of information, advice, investigation, or enforcement when it comes to ethical behavior in government. Amendment W would create an independent, nonpartisan government accountability board that can field complaints, investigate corruption, and hold rulebreakers accountable.
4) Ensure Politicians Can't Use Public Office for Personal Gain
Amendment W makes sure that South Dakota politicians never use their office for personal gain by preventing them from adding loopholes that allow them to pocket campaign cash. It also prohibits politicians from using state resources for improper personal gain.
5) Protect voter-approved laws from legislative meddling
Under Amendment W, if voters pass an initiated measure and lawmakers want to repeal it, they will have to send that decision back to the voters for the final say. Politicians would also be prevented from changing the rules about how measures make it to the ballot, stopping politicians from obstructing the will of the people by making it harder for popular measures to get on the ballot.
South Dakota's Current Corruption Ranking
According to a study by the Center for Public Integrity, South Dakota is the fourth most corrupt state in the country, with failing grades for electoral oversight, executive and legislative accountability, lobbying disclosure, ethics enforcement agencies, and more.
Corruption costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars with unnecessary and unethical government waste. This so-called “corruption tax” costs voters $1,300 per capita, according to a University of Indiana study.