Attorney Scott Swier of Avon represents Native American Telecom, which is accused by Sprint Communications of improper business practices. That dispute is before the state Public Utilities Commission.
Native American Telecom serves as a source of revenue for Free Conferencing Corp., based in Long Beach, Calif.
Free Conferencing gave $16,500 to Swier last year to distribute as campaign contributions to legislators and legislative candidates.
Swier formed a political action committee to make the donations.
The PAC’s only source of money was the company.
State law prohibits direct donations from businesses and other organizations to candidates. State law restricts the maximum donation from an organization to a PAC to $10,000 in one year.
One of the PAC’s contributions went to state Sen. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes. His re-election campaign received $1,000 from it.
A letter from Lederman was submitted Tuesday to the PUC explicitly defending Free Conferencing. Swier delivered the letter to the commission.
Lederman said Thursday in an interview he doesn’t know why he was given the $1,000 contribution.
PUC chairman Gary Hanson said the letter couldn’t be considered as evidence because that stage of the proceeding had passed. Swier walked back to his seat without saying a word in reply.
Hanson said the letter would be placed in the public-comment file for the proceeding.
Lederman’s involvement came as a new turn in the proceeding.
Swier referred to the letter repeatedly before Hanson’s ruling and made prominent mention to the three commissioners of Lederman’s role as a Senate majority whip.
Lederman also operates his own political action committee, Rushmore PAC.
The Lederman PAC made $500 contributions last year to the political campaigns of two members of the PUC, Republicans Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen. Both won election in November.
Nelson, Fiegen and Hanson will make the determinations in the case involving Native American Telecom.
Swier worked as an assistant attorney general for the state government of South Dakota from March 29, 2007, through Oct. 15, 2009. He began representing Native American Telecom before the PUC in the Sprint dispute on May 27, 2010.
David Erickson of Long Beach, Calif., is the founder and chief executive for Free Conferencing. It is a privately held company he formed, by himself, in 2001.
Free Conferencing isn’t registered as a business in South Dakota. Erickson, however, is a director for Native American Telecom.