S.D. Gov. Under Fire for Support of LodgeNet

Q Boyer
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The latest subject of the public relations campaign being waged in South Dakota by conservative antiporn groups is the state’s Republican Governor, Mike Rounds, who recently praised LodgeNet’s decision to keep and expand its headquarters in Sioux Falls.

Last Friday, Rounds appeared at a press conference held by LodgeNet at which the company announced its plans to add 130 employees to its Sioux Falls headquarters over the next two years.

Prior to Rounds’ participation in the press conference, Christopher Hupke, president of the South Dakota Family Policy Council, sent a letter to the governor’s office urging Rounds not to support LodgeNet and warning that Rounds risked losing the backing of his conservative base if he did.

Throwing in behind LodgeNet could “jeopardize this organization’s continued support” of the governor, Hupke wrote in his letter to Rounds’ spokesman Mitch Krebs, according to reports.

Hupke said he wanted to make sure that Rounds was not “duped into participating in an event directly tied to the for-profit, hardcore pornography industry right here in the great state of South Dakota.”

In an interview after Rounds’ appearance at the LodgeNet press conference, Hupke said his organization felt let down because Rounds “is a governor who we respect and admire.”

“This is a man we believe is of high personal character and integrity, and that’s probably why we were most disappointed,” Hupke said, adding that he received no response from Rounds to his letter.

In a statement issued by his office when LodgeNet announced its expansion plans last Friday, Rounds said, “Today is not about the public debate about censorship of legal adult entertainment, that debate is for another day among lawmakers. Today is to congratulate LodgeNet on the decision to keep its headquarters in Sioux Falls and expanding their operations here.”

LodgeNet’s expansion, Rounds said, “shows the confidence in South Dakota to provide the high-tech work force needed to staff the needs of a leader in Internet and on-demand service technology.”

Hupke said that his group plans to continue its public relations campaign against LodgeNet until the company stops distributing adult content.

“I would have to say that it will continue to be an issue as long as LodgeNet is in the business of distributing material that is exploiting women and children,” Hupke said.

In an interview with the conservative media outlet Family News in Focus, Hepke added that LodgeNet has “made the decision to profit and run a business on the backs of broken marriages,” adding that “[i]nsiders tell us that revenue [from adult pay-per-view sales] generates about 50 to 75 percent of their overall revenue.”

Ann Parker, a spokesperson for LodgeNet, said that her company offers a “wide range of content” for hotels to choose from, and what the hotels opt to carry is up to them.

“The hotels choose the content; many of our hotels choose not to have mature content, and we are fine with that,” Parker said, noting that LodgeNet offers parental controls so that guests can lock the adult content offerings to prevent children from accessing such movies.