South Dakota’s Democratic Congresswoman, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, is facing the fight of her life this election, against Republican Kristi Noem. Sandlin was swept into the House in 2004, after then-Congressman Bill Janklow, a Republican who served four terms as governor, was convicted of manslaughter for speeding through a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. Since her election, she has attempted to cultivate an image as a Blue Dog Democrat, but her support for the Pelosi-Reid-Obama agenda have undercut her support in the Republican-leaning state.
To make liberal prospects bleaker, Noem has raised more money than any Republican challenger in America – and to great effect. A Rasmussen poll released Friday showed Noem leading Sandlin by five points among likely voters, exactly the number currently undecided.
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Sensing an electoral blowout, it appears the Democratic Party, from the county level all the way to the White House, has one answer: good, old fashioned vote-buying. The evidence seems to indicate this hotly contested Congressional election is behind an Obama administration decision that cost taxpayers $760 million – and that the same federal authorities who threw out the Black Panther voter intimidation case are looking the other way during a new round of election-year dirty tricks.
The Democrats’ midterm strategy is to turn out its base. For Herseth Sandlin, American Indians are the new black. South Dakota’s newspaper The Argus Leader notes: “Strong Native American turnout has been the difference in statewide races in past years, and it could be critical in upcoming races. The emergence of early voting has only intensified efforts to get out the vote in Indian Country.”
The Congresswoman has made a special plea to this constituency, writing: “By all accounts, this will be a close election. Every vote will count and your vote can make a difference…Early voting has already started on several reservations. I would greatly appreciate your support on Election Day.” Among her campaign promises is a pledge to “[e]nact the very first Indian Agriculture Act as a part of the farm bill to bring the full benefits of all USDA programs to the Reservations.”
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Coincidentally, the Obama administration negotiated a $760 million settlement for American Indians who claim they were discriminated against by the USDA, just in time for the election.
To make matters more interesting, the lead plaintiffs in the case, George and Marilyn Keepseagle, farm 500 acres in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the border between the Dakotas. Many of the plaintiffs live in South Dakota:
Sarah Vogel, a Bismarck attorney in the case, estimated that several hundred farmers and ranchers in the Dakotas are eligible. “There probably are more from our region than any other,” she said.
Given Obama’s months-long midterm appeal to blacks, Hispanics, feminists, and young voters – and Eric Holder’s use of the Justice Department to steer money to favored Democratic groups – the settlement looks like another corrupt ploy to turn out left-wing voters on election day.
As events on the ground show, bribery seems to be the Democrats’ statewide strategy.
“Will Vote for Food”
While the region’s would-be farmers await their $50,000 or $250,000 settlement checks, the state’s Democratic Party loses no opportunity to reward all potential tribal voters. The Argus Leader reports:
Democrats in South Dakota are holding three early-vote rallies on [American Indian] reservations this week that will feature “feeds” to attract potential voters. That activity continues a long tradition of pairing food with voter rallies in areas of the state where Democrats garner as much as 95 percent of the vote. (Emphasis added.)
It seems to make little difference that federal authorities have repeatedly stated such activity is illegal. Previous observers have declared campaign rallies, where Democratic Party officials hand out free food and then take grateful recipients to cast early ballots, cross the line into bribery.
According to state media, South Dakota “Attorney General Marty Jackley and U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson reminded both parties not to offer food for votes but they did not say whether the Democratic events violated the law.” Jackley is currently investigating “feeds” that took place at three Indian reservations, all held by the Democratic Party, two of them attended by Herseth, herself.
However, the state law seems clear. The Argus Leader continues, “State law forbids candidates and campaigns from ‘offering anything of value’ to get people to vote – not just to vote for a particular candidate or issue, but to vote in general.” In 1998, U.S. Attorney Karen Schreier (a Democrat) penned a joint letter with Attorney General Mark Barnett, a Republican stating that “simply offering to provide” food or gifts “in exchange for showing up to vote is clearly against the law.” Barnett sent a separate letter months later reiterating: “any giveaways or incentives offered as an encouragement for people to vote are prohibited. The statute is very broad and should be so construed.”
State officials have asked the Obama Justice Department to intervene. The Associated Press noted, “Jim Sword, the state’s attorney for Fall River and Shannon counties, sent the Department of Justice a memo outlining potential voting abuses.”
If recent history is any indication, he may as well have sent smoke signals to the North Pole.
Christopher Coates, who headed the Voting Rights division of the Justice Department, has testified that the president’s appointees have a “deep-seated opposition to the equal enforcement of the” law “for the protection of white voters.” Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Julie Fernandez told a roomful of Voting Rights employees, “We have no interest in enforcing this provision of the law [to purge ineligible voters from the rolls]. It has nothing to do with increasing turnout, and we are just not going to do it.” Undoubtedly, Fernandez, Loretta King, and the rest of the racial spoils system mafia will argue free food increases “turnout.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, this lax attitude has emboldened the state’s Democrats to flout the law. If the president will not keep Black Panthers from wielding nightsticks at polling places, he will not stop Congresswomen from wafting fried chicken on the reservation.
Similar “Will Vote for Food” events are going on nationwide, largely targeting Democratic constituencies.
However, compared to the administration’s $760 million payoff, the feeds seem are small potatoes. In light of the billions of dollars pending in Justice Department settlements with other American Indians, Hispanics, and women, alleged Democratic attempts to purchase minority votes for a mess of pottage seem like chicken feed. While South Dakota Republicans investigate the reservation “feeds,” a future Republican Congressional majority should investigate whether the Obama administration is engaged in a far greater travesty: transferring wealth from those who have earned it to heavily Democratic constituencies, including those likely to vote in South Dakota.