An ethical dilemma at Sutton Bay w/update

The state Board of Technical Education meets for a planning retreat June 3-5 at Sutton Bay lodge in rural Sully County. At the board meeting Tuesday, president Dana Dykhouse of Sioux Falls suggested other members could come Saturday or Sunday to play golf.

Will free golf at an exclusive place violate South Dakota law?

The Legislature in 2017 approved a provision in state code (2-12-16) limiting gifts from or through lobbyists. The law says:

“No public official and no member of the immediate family of a public official may accept from any lobbyist or principal any gifts with a cumulative value greater than one hundred dollars during any calendar year.”

A knowing violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Sutton Bay doesn’t charge green fees for members. Its website lists prices for green fees for guests: $150 for a guest with a member; $225 for a guest unaccompanied by a sponsoring member; and $300 for a guest sponsored by the club.

The website says: “Membership in Sutton Bay is by invitation only; those invitations may be extended by the club, an owner of the club, or a current member of Sutton Bay.”

UPDATE: A reader of this blog points out the Legislature in this chapter of law defined a public official as a member of the Legislature, a holder of a statewide office or a department head in the executive branch. Under that definition, a member of a state board wouldn’t be subject to the law. I’ll stand by the headline until shown otherwise: This remains an ethical dilemma.