Critical debate of the transparency and accountability of our government structures are exactly the conversations voters should be having with those you elect. It is fair and right for the citizens to demand a government they can trust. I wish that was the conversation we were having about Constitutional Amendment W. But it isn’t. Unfortunately, Constitutional Amendment W is not as much about accountability and ethical oversight for our government as it is about an outside group committed to selling an agenda. By using popular spokespeople, they hope that you won’t see the creation of an unelected, all-powerful board. By feeding off national partisan politics, they are hoping you won’t see all the problems that will be permanently written into our Constitution. And, by playing on your fears of out-of-control fraud, they hope you won’t pay attention to the massive increase in government spending.
A Massachusetts-based group called Represent US claims that Constitutional Amendment W would give the power back to the people. Wrong. Constitutional Amendment W gives power to professional campaigners by forcing an election every time any of the many details within the Amendment become outdated or the unintended consequences are realized. Campaign organizations, like Represent US, make millions promoting ridiculous measures across the country. Campaigning is an industry, and it is feeding on South Dakota, to the detriment of informed dialogue.
I can’t help but take offense when people who couldn’t live further from the values of South Dakotans tell me the answer to our corrupt government is to give absolute authority over it to a Board with no oversight itself. And to give the Board guaranteed tax-payer funds that increases each year. Constitutional Amendment W would require the state to fund the Board at a pre-determined level without any say from the Legislature. What does this say about us? That we value a Board with absolute power over all levels of government more than we value educating our children or keeping our citizens healthy and safe.
The Rapid City Journal recently endorsed Constitutional Amendment W claiming in part that the State Government Accountability Board would be transparent because they are subject to open meeting laws. So is every level of government that they claim needs oversight. I’ve been unable to find, in the 8-page amendment, what guarantees this board is so ethical that it does not need to be subjected to checks and balances. Here’s an excerpt from the proposed amendment: “In any case of a conflict between any provision of this Article and any other provision contained in this Constitution, the provisions of this Article shall control.” This amendment literally overrides the South Dakota Constitution. I do not support the status quo, but this is serious overreach… all brought to you by celebrities and out of state interests.
Represent US has confused trust with agreement. Disagreement does not mean unethical action or behavior. It means we are having a thorough conversation about effective ethics and campaign reforms, where we agree on some things and disagree on others. Instead of letting South Dakotans’ work with our own system, they spend millions to promote a measure so they get their way regardless of negative impact to South Dakota.
Constitutional Amendment W gives power to an unelected Board to investigate citizens at every level of government, costs the taxpayers hundreds of thousands annually, and writes flawed legislation into our Constitution. We can do better. Please join me and others in voting NO on W.