Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

AG finds no evidence of wrongdoing by callers opposing abortion petition


South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said there’s no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by a group of volunteers opposing an abortion ballot question.

The volunteers are connected to the group South Dakota Petition Integrity. 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 loosening the state’s abortion laws to voters. They accuse the South Dakota Petition Integrity group 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 the abortion 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 election process,” Johnson said.

Last legislative session, lawmakers changed state law to allow people to remove their signature from petitions for ballot questions. The law went into effect immediately.

Jackley said on Tuesday the Petition Integrity Group 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 volunteers,” Jackley said. “Based on the evidence collected, there is no indication of criminal activity.”

Josh Chilson is the news director at South Dakota Public Broadcasting. A Florence, S.D. native, Josh graduated with a journalism degree from South Dakota State University. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and videographer, and most recently as managing editor for Dakota News Now. Josh is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.