When all else fails, why not try cash and whiskey?
The impending rise of judicial candidacies

LIBERTY, Ky. - A Casey County man has been convicted of using cash and whiskey to buy votes in a school board election.

Ellis gave pints of Ancient Age whiskey and $5 bills to Stella Johnson's son and daughter and a friend during a meeting the day before the November 2004 election, according to testimony during the trial.

Defense attorney Raymond Overstreet argued that Ellis was simply engaging in good, old-fashioned "electioneering," but Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright said it was much more serious than that.
Read the whole thing here on Yahoo News. Some light political reading on your Saturday morning.

It might be "good old-fashioned electioneering" in Kentucky, but I think that's where you can also legally marry your 13 year old cousin. There and Ft. Pierre. (Sorry, I couldn't resist).

South Dakota's election laws prevent this sort of thing as well. What do they say?

12-26-15. Bribery of voter as misdemeanor - Acts constituting bribery.

It is a Class 2 misdemeanor for any person, directly or indirectly, by himself or through any other person:

(1) To pay, lend, contribute, or offer or promise to pay, lend, or contribute, any money or other valuable consideration, to or for any voter or to or for any other person, to induce such voter to vote or refrain from voting at any election or to induce any voter to vote or refrain from voting at such election for any particular person or to induce such voter to go to the polls or remain away from the polls at such election, or on account of such voter having voted, refrained from voting or having voted or refrained from voting for any particular person, or having gone to the polls or remained away from the polls at such election;

(2) To give, offer, or promise any office, place or employment, or to promise to procure or endeavor to procure any office, place or employment to or for any voter, or to or for any other person in order to induce such voter to vote or refrain from voting at such election for any particular person;

(3) To make any gift, loan, or promise, offer, procurement, or agreement as aforesaid to, for, or with any person in order to induce such person to procure or endeavor to procure the election of any person, or the vote of any voter at any election;

(4) To procure or engage, promise, or endeavor to procure, in consequence of any such gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement, or agreement, the election of any person or the vote of any voter at such election;

(5) To advance or pay, or cause to be paid, any money or other valuable thing to or for the use of any other person, with the intent that the same or any part thereof shall be used in bribery at any election, or to knowingly pay or cause to be paid any money or other valuable thing to any person in discharge or repayment of any money wholly or in part expended in bribery at any election.

12-26-16. Acceptance of bribe by voter as misdemeanor - Acts constituting acceptance of bribe.

It is a Class 2 misdemeanor for any person, directly or indirectly, by himself or through any other person:

(1) To receive, agree, or contract for, before or during any election, any money, gift, loan, or other valuable consideration, offer, place, or employment for himself or any other person, for voting or agreeing to vote, or for going or agreeing to go to the polls, or for remaining away or agreeing to remain away from the polls at any such election;

(2) To receive any money or other valuable thing during or after an election, for himself or any other person for having voted or refrained from voting at such election, or on account of himself or any other person having voted or refrained from voting for any particular person at such election, or on account of himself or any other person having gone to the polls or remained away from the polls at such election, or on account of having induced any other person to vote or refrain from voting, for any particular person at such election.

A little clunky, but what law isn't. And someone tell me if I'm wrong, but last I knew, prosecutions for this in South Dakota are rare to non-existent.

So, what is a "valuable thing" in the eyes of the law? Traditionally, the law hasn't considered t-shirts, political buttons, mugs, car shades, and the plethora of campaign swag as valuable. But as campaigns become more aggressive and expensive, is that line going to be crossed? Are we going to see a dollar amount placed on this law someday? Only time will tell.

But just like Kentucky, in South Dakota I suspect whiskey and cash are out.

What brings the spectre of electioneering up? Not what you might think.

Aside from running across that article this AM, I recently came across a quote from Judge Janine Kern that I was waiting for an excuse to write on. It was from about a year ago in relation to the last year's defeated amendment on having all circuit court judges simply stand for retention elections (as opposed to having to actually run). But while it was relating to the amendment election, the quote was more pointed at a U.S. Supreme Court decision that's making South Dakota judges a little skittish. It's called REPUBLICAN PARTY OF MINNESOTA et al. v. WHITE. What was Judge Kern's quote?

The White decision will “weaken an impartial judiciary and lead to judges participating in the type of electioneering that often besmirches politicians.”

(Apparently the Judge has a low opinion of politicians.) What was the issue in that decision? The First Amendment right of judges to campaign.

Traditionally, Judges in Minnesota (and South Dakota) have had one heck of a time waging challenger campaigns. Simply because the guidelines prevented them from making statements of philosophy. They were strictly name I.D. races with any substantive debates barred by regulation. If memory serves me, in our state there had been a judicial candidate or two who had been in trouble over this very topic.

But then this decision came along.

As I last knew it, judges and potential judicial candidates know about this decision (which has a pretty simple explanation at Wikipedia). A few months back, I had mentioned to me that "the rules" about what can and cannot be done within the boundaries of ethical guidelines are still up in the air.

But this decision still stands. And the bottom line is that with the White decision, there is going to be some serious evolution of judicial campaigns in South Dakota. No more strictly name ID races. For better or worse, there's going to be some ideology interjected into the process.

And as we approach another election season, there's probably some judges who've been on the bench for several years who might be getting a bit nervous.

So, your honors - need to learn how to electioneer like the rest of us? Use the mugs and t-shirts. And stay away from the cash and whiskey.

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