Two 1st amendment violations in South Dakota Legislature when facing accountability

Last week, at the South Dakota State Legislature House State Affairs Committee meeting on 1/17/2024, during the discussion on HJR 5001, Rick Weible’s speech was censored starting at 38:36, after only about 30 seconds.

First violation

He began:

“Good morning. Rick Weible, from the City of Elkton, representing myself. I support this bill so that we can hold you accountable. This bill will bring a lot of corrupt PAC money into the state. And I’m well positioned to help statewide candidates navigate the murky waters of campaign finance. With my resources, we can win any election that big money wants. This decision to crush and bypass the vetting done by the committemen and women is essential to hiding the true agenda of candidates and the PACs that support them. Decoupling the candidates from the platform—”

At this point the chair interrupted Rick and said that this was an earnest meeting before the people and his attempts to make a mockery of it would not be well met. He did not allow further comment from Rick despite time remaining on the clock.

Rick was unable to speak the last two lines of his prepared comments: If you pass this bill I can expand my mail forwarding business across the state. I currently have one with 1,700 registered voters. Plus with print4win and our ability to print on official ES&S ballot stock, we will win any race....

This is far from the first instance of censorship from government officials in violation of the first amendment. I witnessed this for myself in a Sherburne County in August 2022.

Rick’s statements were honest given that he has proven there are election issues and corruption of voter registrations. For example:

  • In August 2023, Rick re-registered a mail forwarding company that went out of business in July of 2018, where voters are still voting
  • Rick has also obtained 10,000 blank ES&S ballots, and can print ballots
  • He runs two political action committees (PAC)s in South Dakota

Second violation

Then, yesterday, on 1/22/2023, during the same committee, for Bill HB 1111 requiring the legislature to take a 2-hour course on the US and State Constitution, while testifying as a proponent, Rick was prevented from speaking his opinion, discussing what happened the previous week. Again, his rights were violated while talking about the first amendment, starting at 8:51.

Also of note: In the minutes for that meeting, to preserve the order and decorum of the committee, the chair reprimanded Rick for conduct disturbing the orderly proceeding of the committee, including non-germane and disrespectful testimony. The chair again warned Rick that his testimony privileges would be revoked if he were not observing decorum and providing earnest, germane testimony.

Seeing as the the chair is an attorney, should he know better?

Canary in coalmine?

South Dakota, with its approximately 35-day legislative window, represents an accelerated timeline and has been described by Rick as the canary in the coalmine when it comes to legislative sessions in other states. For instance, note the potential impact of House Joint Resolution 5001, which was a bill which sought to alter the state constitution to take away the party candidate selection and position those races in the primary election instead.

Rick will testify on SB48, which includes cast vote record language, at 10am Wednseday before the Senate State Affairs Committee.