Non-Partisan Primary Measure: Follow the Money

no_on_amendment_vPierre – Today, South Dakotans Against V released an ad exposing the real masterminds behind the so-called “nonpartisan” election amendment.

“South Dakotans don’t need to be told how to govern by big, hidden money from out-of-state,” said Will Mortenson, Chairman of South Dakotans Against V.

More than three-quarters of Amendment V’s contributions are coming from outside the state, including more than 70% from a single organization in New York that does not disclose its donors. The New York-funded effort attacking South Dakota’s political system is led by a billionaire Obama-fundraiser and former Enron financier, along with other hidden, out-of-state donors.

“We need to stand up to the New York billionaires and out-of-state interests who are working with Democratic Party Bosses in South Dakota to destroy our state’s ballot transparency and long-time political traditions,” Mortenson added.

The Chairman of the Yes on V Ballot Committee in South Dakota is Democratic Party Boss and failed 2014 U.S. Senate Candidate Rick Weiland.

“Since he can’t win elections in South Dakota, Party Boss Rick Weiland is trying to confuse voters by hiding party labels on the ballot,” said Mortenson.

Woodrow Wilcox


Amendment V hides party labels on the ballot and puts a California-style merged primary in South Dakota’s constitution. Vote NO on Amendment V in November.

You can watch the ad below.



Background on Yes on Amendment V Campaign Financing

Sources of Contributions from Yes on V[1]

  1. Open Primaries (NY, NY)
    1. $246,784
    2. 92% of total contributions
  2. Total Out-of-State
    1. $259,953
    2. 76% of total contributions
    3. Out-of-State Donors:
      1. Open Primaries (NY),
      2. Represent.US (MA),
  • One individual (NE), and
  1. A Teamsters PAC (DC)

About Open Primaries

Open Primaries is a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization.  501(c)(4) organizations do not need to disclose their donors and, in fact, Open Primaries does not disclose its donors.

The Open Primaries website lists that Open Primaries President John Opdycke “partnered with philanthropist John Arnold to expand [the merged primary advocacy] effort into a national campaign.”[2]  Mr. Arnold, a former Enron executive, was much maligned after the downfall of Enron.[3]  While neither Mr. Arnold nor Open Primaries will disclose his total contributions to the 501(c)(4), Mr. Arnold gave at least $1.5 million to a ballot measure similar to Amendment V in Oregon.[4]

Open Primaries lists South Dakota on the top of their page “Our Current Campaigns”[5] and has offered to match fundraising for the effort in South Dakota in an e-mail to their supporters.

Rick Weiland

Mr. Weiland has consistently been advocating for transparency, yet in this campaign 92.5% of the funds raised have come from organizations with out-of-state donors, including his own hidden-money group Take It Back.  The campaign claims that Mr. Rick Knobe is the campaign chairman, when the Secretary of State documents clearly list Mr. Weiland as the Chairman.

In short, Mr. Weiland’s actions do not match his rhetoric.  He is claiming to be a good government advocate, but uses hidden money, anti-transparent campaign tactics, and is pushing an anti-transparent measure.

[1] These can be seen in Yes on V’s Year End (2015) and Pre-Primary (2016) campaign finance reports on the Secretary of State’s website.





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