Torn Between Two Lovers: Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD)

You know, one of the (many) problems with Washington is that all-too-often politicians are too easily bought by special interests and end up selling out their constituents (and America). Historically, it’s been a bi-partisan disease that goes something like this:


1. Person decides to go into politics.
2. Person gets elected and goes to Washington.
3. Newly-minted politician meets lobbyists who wine and dine said politican.
4. Politician falls head over heels in love with lobbyists.
5. Politician marries lobbyist.

Say what?!?

[…Okay, so number five doesn’t happen with politicians from every state….Just the ones, it seems, from South Dakota.]

You see, this is is where the lines get really blurry. When a politician marries a lobbyist, it sort of seems like having a fox in the chicken coop. Very quickly, the question can easily become not if there is too much outside influence, but how much? And, should that member ever lose re-election, does that person return to their home state? Or, do they assume a job as yet another lobbyist?  And, if the latter is the case, whose interests is that member serving now—the voters or a prospective employer?

That, in a nutshell, is the question South Dakota needs to figure out about Democrat Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin from South Dakota. Is she really working for South Dakota or does she have other interests—namely, special interests at heart?

Herseth-Sandlin is South Dakota’s current at-large Congresswoman that is trying to keep from being ousted from the halls of Congress by Republican Kristi Noem. Besides the fact that Herseth-Sandlin votes solidly with Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats 92% of the time, the bigger problem with Herseth-Sandlin is that she has more entanglements to special interests than most.


You see, she’s not only taking money from special interests, she’s also married to former Democrat Congressman Max Sandlin who, after losing his re-election to Congress, did what a lot of politicians seem to do—became a lobbyist.

In March 2007, the lawmaker married lobbyist and ex-Rep. Max Sandlin, a Texas Democrat who lost his seat to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) in 2004. Since his defeat, Sandlin has been a registered lobbyist for Greenberg Traurig and the International Government Relations Group, which now goes by the name Mercury Public Affairs.

According to Senate lobbying records, the former Member represents a number of big-name clients, including Peabody Energy, Air Canada, Advance Auto Parts, the National Association of Broadcasters and Vanguard Health Systems — companies with substantial legislative interests during the 111th Congress.


Senate records show that Max Sandlin and his firm were paid $160,000 in 2009 by Baptist Health Care to lobby on its behalf, including for an “increase in [the] new market tax credit” in a Democratic-backed stimulus package that Herseth Sandlin ultimately voted for.

The National Association of Broadcasters paid Sandlin and his firm $320,000 over the past two years to lobby on a variety of issues, including a bill co-sponsored by his wife, the Local Radio Freedom Act.

And Advance Auto Parts employed Sandlin and his firm last year to lobby on the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation co-sponsored by Herseth Sandlin. The contentious “card check” bill, which would make it easier for workers to unionize, is a top target of manufacturers and others in the business community.

Republicans say Herseth Sandlin’s committee assignments make it difficult for her to avoid conflicts of interest. She is member of the Agriculture, Natural Resources, Veterans’ Affairs and Energy Independence and Global Warming panels, which have broad jurisdiction over many of her husband’s clients.


Like most Democrat incumbents these days, Herseth-Sandlin’s top contributors are a far-left menagerie of unions and abortionists who want to ensure their money doesn’t let them get too far out of Herseth-Sandlin’s mind.

Contributor Total Indivs PACs
EMILY’s List $318,301 $291,137 $27,164
Skadden, Arps et al $82,100 $75,600 $6,500
Laborers Union $60,000 $0 $60,000
American Assn for Justice $50,000 $0 $50,000
AmeriPAC: The Fund for a Greater America $50,000 $0 $50,000
Blue Dog PAC $50,000 $0 $50,000
National Air Traffic Controllers Assn $49,000 $0 $49,000
American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees $47,550 $2,050 $45,500
Sheet Metal Workers Union $47,500 $0 $47,500
American Crystal Sugar $47,000 $0 $47,000
American Federation of Teachers $46,706 $0 $46,706
Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $45,000 $0 $45,000
International Assn of Fire Fighters $44,500 $0 $44,500
Teamsters Union $42,000 $0 $42,000
United Transportation Union $40,000 $0 $40,000
National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn $39,572 $0 $39,572
BPI Technology $37,500 $37,500 $0
NARAL Pro-Choice America $36,500 $1,500 $35,000
National Assn of Realtors $36,000 $1,000 $35,000
PAC to the Future $35,000 $0 $35,000
Over the course of her brief career, Sandlin’s dunked her beak more than once into the union water trough. Correction: Herseth-Sandlin’s beak has been dipped in the union trough quite a bit (which probably explains her vote for the job-destroying Employee Anti-Choice Act):


Industry Total
Lawyers/Law Firms $550,410
Women’s Issues $544,159
Leadership PACs $492,374
Candidate Committees $358,550
Democratic/Liberal $330,148
Public Sector Unions $327,606
Crop Production & Basic Processing $298,663
Building Trade Unions $254,200
Health Professionals $245,980
Retired $233,600
Transportation Unions $231,150
Industrial Unions $175,750
Real Estate $148,913
Insurance $148,696
Securities & Investment $147,447
Lobbyists $131,880
Agricultural Services/Products $126,000
Electric Utilities $123,272
Commercial Banks $116,152
Education $113,996

Perhaps the fine people of South Dakota believed Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin cared about their interests once upon a time.  However, one has to wonder where her loyalties lie now: With South Dakota or with the DC lobbyists.

You can help Kristi Noem put the interests of South Dakota (and America) first by going here and either volunteering to help her campaign, or by making a donation.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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