SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A conservative group says its review of voter registration data in South Dakota found that about 1 in 7 Republican lawmakers in the state Legislature previously registered to vote as a Democrat.
The South Dakota Citizens for Liberty named the lawmakers Monday as part of a legislative scorecard report, the Argus Leader reported . A group official said the party switches raise questions about lawmakers’ commitment to conservative ideology, but some Republicans disputed that claim and defended their current and past party choices.
Tonchi Weaver, a lobbyist for the group, said constituents need to know if a lawmaker changes their party affiliations “and doesn’t change their philosophy.”
“I have never shied away from the fact that I was a Democrat,” Republican Rep. Larry Rhoden said. “But I’ve always said it doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters where you go.”
Others, including Republican Rep. Jean Hunhoff, denied the report of their voting records and said they were unfairly targeted.
“I’ve never registered as a Democrat. I’ve always been a Republican,” Hunhoff said. “I’ve never even heard of that group.”
South Dakota Citizens for Liberty, which formed in 2010, said it advocates for limited government, low taxes and adherence to the U.S. Constitution.
South Dakota Republican Party Chair Dan Lederman said he “didn’t view the party change of former Democrats becoming Republicans as something to be ashamed of, but rather a badge of honor.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com