Let's see: can't fix the Highway Trust Fund, can't fully fund a veterans health care bill, can't provide child immigrants with basic due process... but with the five-week summer recess just hours away, our Congresswoman Kristi Noem finds time to vote for a coup.

Yesterday, Rep. Noem joined 224 of her Republican colleagues in voting to sue the President of the United States of America. Noem and friends are hoping to find some activist judge who will usurp executive power and hand it to the legislative branch. That's a coup.

The House wants a judge to rescind the President's one-year delay of the large-business insurance mandate and tax penalties under the Affordable Care Act and force the President to immediately implement and enforce those provisions. Of course, Noem and her fellow Republicans have tried to repeal that law fifty times, but she'll make a federal case of the President's exercise of his authority to implement that law more slowly than planned.

And yes, the President has that authority:

In fact, applicable judicial precedent places such timing adjustments well within the Executive Branch's lawful discretion. To be sure, the federal Administrative Procedure Act authorizes federal courts to compel agencies to initiate statutorily required actions that have been "unreasonably delayed." But courts have found delays to be unreasonable only in rare cases where, unlike this one, inaction had lasted for several years, and the recalcitrant agency could offer neither a persuasive excuse nor a credible end to its dithering. In deciding whether a given agency delay is reasonable, current law tells courts to consider whether expedited action could adversely affect "higher or competing" agency priorities, and whether other interests could be "prejudiced by the delay." Even in cases where an agency outright refuses to enforce a policy in specified types of cases -- not the case here -- the Supreme Court has declined to intervene. As held by former Chief Justice William Rehnquist in a leading case on this subject, Heckler v. Chaney, courts must respect an agency's presumptively superior grasp of "the many variables involved in the proper ordering of its priorities." Chief Justice Rehnquist suggested that courts could lose their deference to Executive Branch judgment if an "agency has consciously and expressly adopted a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities." The Obama Administration has not and is not about to abdicate its responsibility to implement the statute on whose success his historical legacy will most centrally depend [Simon Lazarus, "Delaying Parts of Obamacare: 'Blatantly Illegal' or Routine Adjustment?" The Atlantic, 2013.07.17].

Question #1 for Kristi at her upcoming debates with Corinna Robinson: "Tell us, Congresswoman, how does suing the President to force implementation of a law that you want repealed and that you say will increase costs for businesses practically benefit South Dakota?"

Question #2: "How much will your lawsuit cost the taxpayers?"

Question #3: "Barack Obama won two Presidential elections and is in the sixth year of his Presidency. Are you willing to acknowledge this fact and move on?"

Voters, feel free to bring these questions up at all of the constituent service events and town halls that I'm sure Rep. Noem will be filling her recess calendar with. But don't take too long to ask: along with frivolous litigation, Noem is busy organizing a pheasant hunt for her big donors September 14–16. Suggested donations: $1,500 for individuals, $2,500 for PACs. (I'd like to see what kind of shotgun a PAC packs.)

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Along with a pair of nifty ads, U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland also released a poll which celebrates the fact that he's five points behind Undecided and ten points behind Mike Rounds.

Go ahead, Republican readers, laugh it up. I'll wait....

Clarity Campaign Labs says it conducted this poll "on behalf of the South Dakota Democratic Party." The Democratic pollsters called 3,837 voters from July 16 to July 23. The margin of error is ±1.44%. The numbers:

  • Mike Rounds: 34%
  • Rick Weiland: 24%
  • Larry Pressler: 10%
  • Gordon Howie: 3%
  • Undecided: 29%

These numbers don't invite cigars. To win, Weiland would have to get the undecideds to (a) break better than two to one for him over Rounds and (b) not fall for Pressler or Howie. Alternatively, he's going to have to peel a few casual Rounds voters away, then hope that Rounds's propaganda about Pressler voters leaning Democrat is right and that a big chunk of them come to their senses before November.

Just who are those Pressler voters? Clarity Campaign Labs says 46% of the Pressler pickers in its pool said they are Independents. The rest split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, each comprising 27% of Pressler voters. Stir all those percentages together, and you find that in this sample, Pressler is winning about 6% of Republicans, 7% of Democrats,  and 35% of Independents.

Looking Pressler's predominantly Indy appeal, here's one small optimism bone we can throw Larry's way. Clarity Campaign Labs says its full sample was 49% Republican, 38% Democrat, and 13% Independent. Compare that to statewide voter registration numbers as of July 1, and you find both parties slightly overrepresented and Indies somewhat more underrepresented. Squeeze Clarity's figures into actual party proportions, and the party leaders drop a point or two while Pressler climbs as much as five points.

Pressler continues to campaign as if his most fertile field is Weiland's voters. On Monday, Pressler sent out a press release pledging to support Senator Tom Udall's (D-NM) proposed Constitutional amendment to reverse Buckley and Citizens United and limit political campaign contributions. Pressler also praised Harvard prof Lawrence Lessig's proposal to give voters $200 vouchers for campaign contributions. Pressler appears to be angling for some sugar from Lessig's new Mayday PAC, which this blog has said would be a perfect fit for Rick Weiland's anti-big-money campaign. Pressler may mean every word he says, but cynics in the audience have leeway to read Pressler banking on Weiland voters being easier pickings than Rounds voters.

Even Weiland's numbers show Rounds still ahead and a hard hill to climb for Democratic victory. But this poll shows Rounds far from a runaway and Pressler far from the overwhelming threat to Dem hopes that Rounds wants us to believe.

p.s. (20:49 CDT): Compare these poll numbers with the results of the Madville Times Senate poll we did last week. Among the presumably Dem-leaning readers of this blog, Pressler pulled 11% compared to Weiland's 66%. That's a slightly larger draw than Pressler's 7% among Democrats in the Clarity poll. One explanation for that difference is that readers (or at least poll-takers!) on this blog are not as uniformly lefty as some might think.

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Senator Larry Tidemann chided Rep. Susan Wismer yesterday for only talking about the bad side of the EB-5 scandal. In that spirit, I am happy to point out that, contrary to the examples of Chairman Tidemann and Governor Daugaard, some Pierre pols keep their eyes, their ears, and their hearts open.

Rep. kathy Tyler (D-4/Big Stone City) writes that immigration is actually good for South Dakota business:

Dairies and other work intensive ag businesses rely heavily on foreign workers. I received a letter from a local farmer during the past year. I learned a lot from it and will quote directly from it:

“We began employing foreign workers through the H-2A visa program in 2011. We had experienced increased difficulty in hiring capable local employees. We made the decision to try the H-2A program as a last resort before being forced to liquidate…….due to lack of labor…The program has provided excellent employees…" [Rep. Kathy Tyler, "Immigration of Children," Kathy's Corner, 2014.07.27].

Rep. Tyler then turns to the Latin American children currently entering our country under a Bush Administration anti-trafficking policy and asks where our hearts and minds are:

These children are fleeing for their lives. I cannot imagine a situation where sending my child away would mean that he or she might live. Let’s be thankful that we don’t need to make that choice. The issue is not settled, and looking at the way things go in Washington, it probably won’t be for a while. I think it’s time to open our hearts and our minds a bit. Remember, they are children [Tyler, 2014.07.27].

We could use more voices of calm, practical decency like Kathy Tyler's in Pierre.

p.s.: If we invited more immigrant children to our fair state, maybe Stickney and Corsica wouldn't have to consolidate.

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Kevin Woster thinks Rick Weiland's new 15-second ads hit the mark. "In 15 seconds, Rick Weiland engages in ways that many much-longer political ads don’t," says Woster. "He’s having fun. Getting his message acrosss. Quickly."

Weiland takes an apt swipe at Mike Rounds's big-money beholdenness:

"The bad part about not having huge corporate donors is that I can only afford this fifteen-second commercial for U.S. Senate. The good part, unlike my opponent, I won't be working for them when I get there." Heck yeah!

Rick then peels off for more of his ongoing tour of the state:

Big campaign money is a great advantage; Weiland is doing his best to turn cash into a liability for Rounds.

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Republican John Tsitrian digs America's two-party system. He thinks three or more parties make a paralyzing muddle, but he thinks one-party rule is even worse.

Tsitrian thinks South Dakota labors under harmful one-party rule. He blames, in part, the abdicant leaders of our Democratic Party:

Where, for example, is Tom Daschle these days?  South Dakotans made him who he is, but Daschle's blow-off of the state and his party's need for some leadership is regrettable and classless....

Corinna Robinson's Congressional campaign is starving for money.  Meantime, U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland looks to be running himself ragged going around the state on a shoestring of a budget against the lavishly-financed Mike Rounds.   Why should South Dakota's Democrats be excited about these candidates when you, Senator Tom Daschle, appear to be indifferent and apathetic?

I pose the same question to Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, bearer of one of South Dakota's legendary political names and a former South Dakota Representative to Congress.  Do you even care, Ms. Sandlin about how your party's fortunes are faring in South Dakota state races, the same South Dakota that your dad served as a state legislator and your grand-dad once governed?  Sheesh.  Come out here and show your face once in a while.

Even that great old liberal warhorse former Senator Jim Abourezk (a fantastic individual who once made it possible for me to visit Syria) could be out there helping out the party, if only within the confines of Sioux Falls as a concession to his age [John Tsitrian, "Memo To South Dakota's Democratic Elder Statesmen: Where Aaaaare Youuuuuu?" The Constant Commoner, 2014.07.30].

For what it's worth, I did just get a letter from Tom Daschle encouraging me to contribute to the SDDP's YELL Fellows program. Tom, Linda, and Nathan Daschle have put $4,009 into Weiland's campaign so far. Herseth Sandlin has put $1,000 into Robinson's campaign.

But whatever letters and money they are contributing, is Tsitrian justified in saying that Daschle, Herseth Sandlin, and Abourezk are derelict in some duty to the South Dakota Democratic Party? What do past office holders owe their party? Sure, parties help candidates get elected, but candidates reciprocate by busting their chops to get elected, by sacrificing privacy, family time, and job opportunities to serve the public. What do Tom and Stephanie still owe the SDDP? For that matter, what do Larry Pressler, Walter Dale Miller, or Clint Roberts owe the SDGOP? What will Kristi Noem and John Thune owe the Republicans when we retire them?

Tsitrian's complaint raises another question: who are the leaders of the South Dakota Democratic Party? Yes, yes, Deb Knecht is the party chair, Zach Crago is our able exec. But who really leads the Democratic Party? Who are the SDDP's William Wallaces, the folks who can paint their faces, shout "Freedom!", and rally Democrats to action? Who tells South Dakota Democrats whom, what, and when to fight? Who can walk into a room of donors and make it rain?

Do Daschle, Herseth Sandlin, or Abourezk wield any power like that? Do our current statewide candidates? Does Bernie Hunhoff? Jason Frerichs? Angie Buhl O'Donnell?

Who's the boss... and who if anyone has an obligation to keep being the boss?

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Sen. Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings): "Nothing to see here..."

Sen. Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings): "Nothing to see here..."

Senator Larry Tidemann (R-7/Brookings) says the Government Operations and Audit Committee's probe of financial misconduct in the Governor's Office of Economic Develoment and the EB-5 visa investment program are pretty much over.

Over? I didn't even notice that they'd begun.

Michael Larson describes Tidemann and GOAC as rookie cops telling us there's nothing to see here. Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-4/Big Stone City) reminds us there's plenty to see, like...

That's not an exhaustive list of topics related to the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the EB-5 program that legislators of good conscience thought they were directing Chairman Tidemann and GOAC to address. But it's a good starting list of the symptoms of the culture of corruption in Pierre. Chairman Tidemann and his Republican colleagues have ignored this list of symptoms, put their stethoscope to GOED's big toe, declared the patient healthy, and gone golfing.

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Hey, remember how South Dakota Republicans embarrassed our great state again in June by passing a resolution calling on the U.S. House to impeach President Obama? Oh, the shame! The perversion of political discourse! I wish they'd never—

Wait a minute. Cue the silver lining:

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said Tuesday that the impeachment push has “misfired” on Republicans.

“Look, I understand their strategy is intended to gin up their base, but it’s having the unintended consequence of moving our base in a midterm election and also moving persuadable voters, swing voters to us in a midterm election," Israel said.

Israel said that on Monday alone, the committee raised $1 million online over a 24-hour period... [Alexandra Jaffe, Abby Smith and Cameron Joseph, "SHOCKING: Dems Profiting from Impeachment Hyperbole," The Hill: Ballot Box, 2014.07.29].

Oh. Well-done, South Dakota Republicans! Carry on.

By the way, perhaps as a thank-you, President Obama signed a disaster declaration Monday  for 12 South Dakota counties, meaning South Dakota can get lots of nice federal government handouts to clean up storm debris, fix damaged buildings and infrastructure, and prepare for future tornadoes and floods. Thank you, Mr. President.

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Because Chairman Larry Tidemann and the other Republican members of the Government Operations and Audit Committee treated Rep. Susan Wismer (not to mention the public) with such grave disrespect this morning in Pierre, I yield the balance of my time to the Representative from Britton to explain her call for EB-5 impresario Joop Bollen to answer to the South Dakota taxpayers who kept him employed for two decades:

Rep. Susan Wismer (D-Britton) urged the Government Operations & Audit Committee to obtain additional information about the management and outcome of the EB-5 program during a hearing Tuesday morning.

“After the Government Operations & Audit Committee meeting today, I've come to believe that this committee is not faithfully executing the charge our legislature gave us under HCR 1010. The resolution gives us the right to seek additional information, yet we have sought no information outside the parameters dictated by the Daugaard administration,” said Rep. Wismer.

Rep. Wismer finds the current answers inadequate and believes South Dakotans deserve to know if their tax dollars were mismanaged through this program. Seeking additional information ensures that all aspects of HCR 1010 are fulfilled and state business is conducted transparently and ethically.

“If the Republican legislators on this committee are not interested in looking into EB-5, it sends a message to South Dakotans that honesty and fair dealing in business doesn’t matter, “ said Rep. Wismer.

Wismer made a motion to subpoena Joop Bollen, former director of the EB-5 program in South Dakota, but the motion died for lack of a second. While reiterating the points of HRC 1010, other members of GOAC interrupted Wismer and attempted to move to other items. Wismer responded: “I won’t be bullied for tackling corruption on behalf of the South Dakota taxpayers” [Rep. Susan Wismer, press release, 2014.07.29].

We thank the gentlelady for her comments and encourage to be less gentle.

There are only two solutions for the corruption Rep. Wismer is trying to fight.

First, hope the FBI and U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson can build a criminal case against the EB-5 schemers, since our state lawmakers lack the will to investigate ills for which they or their pals might be blamed.

Second, elect every Democrat you can this fall.

Update 16:20 CDT: In a sign that Republicans are worried that you might do just that, Dick Wadhams and his new boytoy at SDGOP headquarters, Rob Burgess, push the following release attacking Wismer's challenge to the state's stonewalling as just some "bizarre claims." Notice Dick and Rob's scripted parroting of the state's insistence that EB-5 is a federal program... which doesn't explain or excuse stonewalling an investigation of state employee Richard Benda's misappropriation (AG Jackley once called it grand theft) of over half a million state dollars from a state grant.

Today, the South Dakota Republican Party called on Rep. Susan Wismer (D-Britton) to stop playing politics with the investigation into the late Richard Benda and the federal EB-5 program.

At a legislative hearing in March, at which state officials answered numerous questions, Rep. Wismer said the following to a state-retained auditor: "Your report takes up about an inch of this book or more. Could you talk - I didn't read it. Could you talk a little bit about what else takes up the rest of the inch of paper?"

Since that March hearing, Rep. Wismer has gone on to become the Democrat nominee for Governor.

Dick Wadhams, a spokesman for the South Dakota Republican Party, had the following to say:

"As a member of the committee looking into this matter, Susan Wismer didn't even take the time to prepare by reading the auditor's report. It is hard not to wonder if Susan's sudden interest is motivated by her own political ambitions - especially when the South Dakota Democrat Party is live-tweeting scripted partisan attacks as Wismer recites them in the hearing room. If Susan Wismer really cares about this investigation, she must direct her campaign and the state Democrat party to stop playing politics."

Wadhams finished by saying:

"Just today, Attorney General Jackley discussed his plans to file criminal charges as a result of the investigation that Governor Daugaard requested. It is clear that they are doing what they can to get to the bottom of this, despite Susan Wismer's bizarre claims" [SDGOP press release, 2014.07.29].

Gaacck!—hand me some soap. (And someone tell Rob Burgess how to use the em dash—it's not that hard.)

83 comments

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