Rich relatives are unlimited source of campaign cash in South Dakota

Rapid City Journal

In a campaign finance report filed on the day of the Nov. 6 election by the campaign of governor candidate Billie Sutton, there was something peculiar. It was a $10,000 contribution received from an individual on Nov. 5.

The peculiarity was the amount. By state law, the maximum allowable contribution from any individual to a statewide candidate is $4,000 per calendar year. But the $10,000 contribution to Sutton’s campaign did not violate the $4,000 limit. Why? Because the contribution came from Sutton’s father-in-law, George Kenzy.

In South Dakota, state law exempts members of a candidate's immediate family from the contribution limits that apply to all other individual contributors. 

The exemption is not unique to South Dakota. Austin Graham, legal counsel for the State & Local Program of the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C. — which was involved in the drafting of IM 22 — said there are similar exemptions in other states.

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