- Associated Press - Friday, December 8, 2017

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Former Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson is still using leftover campaign money to make political donations, nearly five years after announcing his retirement.

The South Dakota Democrat still has more than $800,000 in campaign funds, the Rapid City Journal reported . Data from the Federal Election Commission reveal Johnson has been slowly disbursing unused money from his Senate campaign committee and political action committee, South Dakota First, since his 2013 retirement.

Johnson’s committees have contributed at least $150,000 to South Dakota ballot-question committees so far.

Johnson gave $50,000 in September to TakeItBack.org-Advocacy, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, for a petition drive to put redistricting reforms on the 2018 general election ballot. Rick Weiland runs the nonprofit with Johnson’s former chief of staff. He said the nonprofit gave the money to a ballot-question committee to collect signatures for a state constitutional amendment to establish an independent redistricting commission. The amendment would also strip state lawmakers of their redistricting power.

It’s uncertain whether enough validated signatures were collected to get the measure on the 2018 ballot.

Johnson’s committees gifted $60,500 to the state Democratic Party and $37,000 to the University of South Dakota, his alma mater.

Failed South Dakota congressional candidates Corinna Robinson, Rick Weiland and Jay Williams all received $10,000 each from Johnson’s committees.

Surprisingly, the South Dakota Department of Revenue received the most money from Johnson’s fund. The committees have reported paying $67,000 in taxes since 2013. Some of these taxes could have been due on products or services purchased before Johnson’s retirement.

Johnson suffered stroke-like symptoms caused by brain bleeding from an arteriovenous malformation in 2006. He has since withdrawn into private life. Former Republican governor Mike Rounds succeeded Johnson.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com


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