Analysis: 80% of Noem’s reported individual donations are from out-of-state

Majority of donations to opponent Smith came from SD addresses in latest campaign finance report

By: - October 27, 2022 2:46 pm
South Dakota gubernatorial candidates Jamie Smith, left, and Kristi Noem.

South Dakota gubernatorial candidates Jamie Smith, left, and Kristi Noem.

Around 80% of the individual donor addresses listed on Gov. Kristi Noem’s most recent campaign finance filing are out-of-state, according to an analysis of public records by South Dakota Searchlight.

The tally of out-of-state addresses listed in Democratic challenger Jamie Smith’s records was 5%.

The Noem campaign has a large lead in fundraising. The Republican reported taking in more than $3.1 million in cash and non-cash donations from individuals, parties and political action committees from May through Oct. 19, the cutoff for reports that were due Monday. Of that, more than $1.7 million came in the form of more than 19,300 itemized, individual donations of $4,000 or less. 

Of those, one-fifth – more than 3,700 contributions – came from donors with South Dakota addresses, totaling more than $601,000. 

That means South Dakotans account for 20% of Noem’s itemized, individual donor addresses and 35 percent of the money she raised from itemized, individual contributions.

Several individual donors made multiple contributions, often in small amounts like $25.

California represented the state with the second-highest number of individual donations to the Noem campaign. Just under 1,800 donations came from that state, for a total of about $122,000.

Florida donors contributed around $100,000 to Noem through 1,200 individual donations.

Meanwhile, the Smith campaign has raised $955,000 in cash and in-kind donations since May, according to his report.

On the Smith side, 95% of his 1,300 individual donations were attached to South Dakota addresses. Smith’s total of individual cash donations came in at around $591,000, with about 80% of the money – $477,000 – coming from South Dakota.

Ian Fury, spokesperson for the Noem campaign, offered a statement that referenced the entire election cycle, including fundraising prior to the primary election in June. 

This election cycle, Governor Noem has raised $7.7 million from South Dakotans, including more than 30,000 individual contributions. That’s more money raised than every other candidate for statewide state office (not including federal officeholders) combined,” Fury wrote.

Fury said 11,500 South Dakotans made the 30,000 individual contributions, a figure he said includes unitemized contributions of less than $100 per person per calendar year. There is no requirement to disclose the names of donors who contribute less than that amount.

Alex Matson, spokesperson for the Smith campaign, said the large share of out-of-state donations on the Noem side was a sign of the Democrat’s South Dakota-focused campaign.

“Our whole ethos for this campaign has been focusing on the people of South Dakota, and that philosophy extends to the way we’ve been financing this entire campaign,” Matson said. 

Michael Linngren, Smith’s deputy campaign manager, said including unitemized, small donations would put the number of South Dakota-based donors closer to 85%.

“We didn’t have much success raising money out of state,” Linngren said. “Jamie Smith was not nearly as popular in California as he was in South Dakota.”

Noem holds a lead in campaign cash and in the polls. On Wednesday, Emerson College Polling released a report that showed Noem with a 19-point lead over Smith among likely voters.

The Smith campaign faced allegations of campaign finance violations from the Noem camp on Monday for failure to disclose donor addresses in its initial pre-general election filing with the Secretary of State’s Office. On Tuesday, the Smith campaign filed an amended report with addresses. South Dakota Searchlight converted the Noem and Smith lists of individual donors from scanned images into searchable spreadsheets for this analysis.

The campaign finance reporting system, overseen by Secretary of State Steve Barnett, does not require candidates to disclose donations in a searchable format. Citizens seeking financial information are required to search by candidate committee and download PDF files of each dated report. 



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John Hult
John Hult

John is the senior reporter for South Dakota Searchlight. He has more than 15 years experience covering criminal justice, the environment and public affairs in South Dakota, including more than a decade at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.