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AG finds no evidence of wrongdoing by callers opposing abortion petition.

AG-no laws broken by callers opposed to ballot measure

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said there’s no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by a political action committee opposing an abortion ballot question after hundreds of South Dakotans say they received calls from someone claiming to be a “volunteer from the Secretary of State’s  (SOS) office” questioning why they signed the “Restore Roe” petition to put the abortion rights issue on the November ballot.

The volunteers are connected to the group South Dakota Petition Integrity Political Action Committee.  Jackley said they’ve been calling people who signed the abortion rights ballot petition.

Dakotans for Health is the group backing the petition, which would put a constitutional amendment in place restricting abortions versus completely banning the procedure. They accuse the South Dakota Petition Integrity Political Action Committee (formed by Life Defense Fund President, Representative Jon Hansen) of falsely claiming to be from the Secretary of State’s office.

That accusation came after the Secretary of State’s office on Monday warned of “scammers” calling people pressuring them to remove their names from the abortion rights petition. Secretary of State Monae Johnson said her office contacted law enforcement regarding the group “impersonating themselves as SOS staff.”

“Citizens in South Dakota, by law, have the right to petition and people like these scammers are eroding public trust in the voting process,” Johnson said. “Citizens shouldn’t have their right to sign a petition questioned by anyone. Citizens are relaying to us that they were fully aware of that they were signing when they signed the abortion rights petition.”

RELATED: Secretary of State’s Office Warns Of Ongoing Telephone Scam 

Last legislative session, lawmakers changed state law to allow people to remove their signature from petitions for ballot questions after signing. The law went into effect immediately. Many viewed it as a stop-gap measure put in by Republicans lawmakers and others who are concerned the abortion rights ballot petition will pass. The newly minted law allowing people to remove their signatures from the abortion rights petition is now being used by the anti-abortion rights telemarketers to pressure petition signers to change their minds. The South Dakota Petition Integrity Political Action Committee obtained the names of people who signed the abortion rights ballot petition after making an Open Public Records request. Phone numbers were obtained by the same political action committee through a voter database.

Jackley said on Tuesday the South Dakota Petition Integrity Political Action Committee is properly registered with the Secretary of State’s Office.

“The DCI investigation acted promptly in reviewing the complaints as well as the scripts used by the political action committee volunteers,” Jackley said. “Based on the evidence collected, there is no indication of criminal activity.”

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