Attorney General Marty Jackley issues a statement today that elicits one big question: What the heck are you talking about?!
Attorney General Marty Jackley confirmed today that Secretary of State Jason Gant has asked the Office of Attorney General to review several petitions submitted by candidates for United States Senate for potential violations of criminal law that are outside the authority of the Secretary of State [South Dakota Attorney General's Office, press release, 2014.05.06].
Several? Candidates? Plural? The only documented criminal activity related to Senate nominating petitions so far has come from illegitimate candidate Annette Bosworth and her husband Chad Haber, who committed perjury by falsifying their circulator's oaths. Secretary Gant passed that information to AG Jackley one month ago, and Jackley at the time mostly dismissed that information, advising that "the only action available to review" the certification of the Bosworth petition was "a prohibition action in court." To issue a new statement, AG Jackley appears to have received additional information about additional criminal activity by additional candidates.
But who? What crime has anyone identified in anyone else's petition?
Based on the authority granted to the Secretary of State to supervise elections, the Secretary of State’s Office reviewed and approved the nominating petitions submitted by the candidates. Given this approval, the candidates do appear on the ballot in the November election [SDAG, 2014.05.06].
The November ballot? The Bosworth petition only places her on the June ballot. If we read AG Jackley's text exactly, he appears to be saying he's investigating only the petitions of individuals already on the November ballot, who at this point are Democrat Rick Weiland and Independents Larry Pressler, Gordon Howie, and Clayton Walker. (And I contend that even if he is investigating all four, four does not meet the definition of several.)
“Election complaints received from the Secretary of State will be reviewed for potential criminal violations, and any issues having merit will be further investigated. Because the review involves a federal election, I have discussed these matters with United States Attorney Brenden [sic] Johnson, and we are in agreement that any investigation into potential violations should not affect this election as the voters not prosecutors should determine the election outcome,” said Jackley [SDAG, 2014.05.06].
That the AG's office can't even spell the U.S. Attorney's name right suggests haste and lack of review. So does the assertion that an investigation should not affect an election (and Mr. Johnson, if you have signed on to this legal thinking, I am disappointed). Voters should determine election outcomes. Those who have questioned Annette Bosworth's petition and other shady activities are not asking law enforcement to decide the election outcome; we are asking law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes.
But AG Jackley apparently can't fully do his job during an election year:
The courts have made it clear that any investigation into potential criminal violations of law should not affect an election if at all possible. Many violations of election laws do not rise to the level of criminal misconduct. The public interest favors minimizing interference in elections.... In addition, the time frames associated with investigating and taking further criminal action, if any, concerning these petition matters would exceed the time frames associated with appearance on the November ballot. This includes the presumption of innocence and the 180 day speedy trial right. As a result, further review of a candidate’s petition does not affect that Secretary of State’s certification of the candidate to appear on the ballot [SDAG, 2014.05.06].
Herein lies the important point of law enforcement, or lack thereof, that should concern us most. Attorney General Jackley repeats his contention from April that his investigations cannot affect the appearance of a name on the ballot. Fine. But in today's release, he goes further, essentially declaring a stay-out-of-jail pass for anyone who manages to get on a ballot. Suppose Rick Weiland commits a crime today—perjures himself, drives drunk, spray-paints "EB-5 killed Benda!" on Mike Rounds's garage door. The offended parties report the crime. By the reasoning of this press release, AG Jackley says to them, "I'm sorry, but if I take action on this crime, I might affect the election. Call me November 5."
Crime is crime. If citizens bring forth evidence of crime, law enforcement should investigate. If the evidence is substantial, law enforcement should prosecute. Making investigation and prosecution contingent on whether the suspect is a candidate for public office favors the political class and violates the rule of law.
Attorney General Jackley, you evidently have before you allegations and evidence of criminal activity. Sitting on that evidence and doing nothing, just because the people that evidence indicts are political candidates, is political favoritism. Cut the crap. Do your job.