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Rep. Lance Russell Censured for Abuse of State’s Attorney Rules

When Will Legislature Hold Special Session to Expel?

Rep. Lance Russell, R-30/Hot Springs
Rep. Lance Russell, R-30/Hot Springs

Here's another one Dakota War College won't touch: Representative Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs) has been publicly censured for illegal activity as state's attorney of Fall River County in 2008. The multiple wrongdoings took place prior to Russell's taking his seat in the state House of Representatives, but they include political abuse of his position as state's attorney to gain that House seat. Russell refuses to acknowledge his wrongdoing ("I was married to my job and my duty," he whimpers) and may appeal to the Supreme Court.

Lance Russell may not be Ted Klaudt, but he's a step or two above former State Senator Dan Sutton. GOP bloggers had a field day raking Sutton over the coals for sensationalized allegations of homosexual hanky-panky that drew censure from the Senate but never resulted in any legal action. Our state Supreme Court has now gone on record saying Russell broke the law and violated the public trust.

State Legislature, you have among you a representative who abused his public office to gain entry to your hallowed hall. Your integrity is at stake. Where are the calls for a special session to upbraid and perhaps expel this lawbreaking member?


  1. Rep. Steve Hickey 2011.04.23

    There is no absolutely no comparison between Klaudt/Sutton and Lance Russell and to fabricate similarities of character and conduct is hurtful to his wife and children. In my view nothing here inclines me to think any less of him and he remains in high regard by me and I'd think by the rest of the Legislature. Best of luck to him in his appeals. If they are unsuccessful it'll be a campaign issue for him but hardly a insurmountable one.

  2. larry kurtz 2011.04.23

    Protestants: go back to where you came from.

  3. mike 2011.04.23

    His district is solid RED. I like Lance. Nice guy.

  4. Jana 2011.04.23

    Good to see Reverend Hickey back. Wasn't he going to answer the question of what would Jesus cut from a budget...

    Lance knew he was doing something that was in conflict with the law, but politics trumped his views for his own personal gain. Too bad for all of us.

  5. John Hess 2011.04.23

    Oh Larry, stop making up words. Protestants are here and probably where you came from. Get used to it! Someone should slap you in the chaps.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.23

    [Larry, I've got two Protestants in the house. They belong right here.]

    Whether Rep. Russell is a nice guy or has a family seems irrelevant here. He broke the law. I or some other liberal blogger didn't make it up; the South Dakota Supreme Court said so. Dan Sutton's a nice guy, he's got family, but that didn't stop the Legislature from going ape... and he was never charged with violating any law. If Sutton's transgressions could trigger calls for special sessiona nd reprimand, so should Russell's demonstrated, court-affirmed wrongdoing.

  7. Charlie Johnson 2011.04.23

    Depends on whether we are talking "D" or "R" here.

  8. larry kurtz 2011.04.23

    Thank you, Charlie. Go back from whence you came, Republican Protestants.

  9. larry kurtz 2011.04.23

    Oh, John: you can slap my chaps at will.

  10. Charlie Johnson 2011.04.24

    A Catholic Democrat just speaking his mind and pondering the truth as I see it.

  11. Bill Fleming 2011.04.24

    Sounds like maybe Lance could use a little chap slapping. ...and Kurtz a little less monkey spanking. ;-)

    Bob Newland is making noises about giving Lance a primary in District 30. (see Decorum Forum). Wouldn't that be an absolute hoot?

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.24

    Bill, if minarchism can sell anywhere, I'd think it would be District 30. Could Bob win with the primary base?

  13. Stace Nelson 2011.04.24

    Ironic, I saw this ugly little post on DWC while speed reading some of their posts waiting for the kids to be ready to head to church.

    Nothing like comparing apples to dragon fruit.

    Read the whole story* about what Rep. Russell is accused of. If he is guilty of anything, it is of being an overzealous conscientious dedicated public servant.

    You attempt to sully this good man after your defense of the fella that was a convicted felon and abused old people? Nice... (not)

    Proud to know Lance, honored to serve with him, and happy to claim him as a friend. I will publicly state though that I am 100% sure that his many beautiful children have their mother to thank for their good looks.

    P.S. Like what you have done with the looks of the place, to bad it is wasted on posts with such an over the top left can't.. Happy Easter

    {*CAH: I need to take issue with this paragraph. "The whole story"? Horsepuckey. Rep. Nelson does some lazy Googling and links to the same AP article in a Connecticut newspaper that I linked above via KELO. It summarizes Russell's wrongs in two sentences. I also included links to Bob Mercer's blog summary and the Aberdeen American News article. "Whole story"? I've got you covered in the original post. And don't miss the full ruling linked below.}

  14. Bill Fleming 2011.04.24

    Anything is possible, Cory. Especially in Hermosa, Custer, Hot Springs and Edgemont. Hey, that's where I'M from, you know? — Custer Wildcat, class of '68... born at Sisters Hospital, Hot Springs on the Ides of March, 1950. ;^)

  15. Bill Fleming 2011.04.24

    (...i think I even have my birth certificate around here somewhere, dood.)

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.24

    Rep. Nelson, what's with this disconnect? Sutton broke no law. Sutton got censured. Russell broke the law. Russell gets you guys rallying around him. This isn't "over-the-top" leftwing cant: this is your Supreme Court, appointed entirely by Republicans, speaking. He broke grand jury rules and used his office for political gain. You really want to defend that? Has supermajority status gone to the GOP's head that badly?

  17. Bloggin' Bob from Decorum Forum 2011.04.24

    Ah, but you misquote my intent. I am actually considering NOT running. I am considering forming an exploratory committee to examine the advantages to society that would accrue should I not be elected to the So. Dak. statehouse.

    Checks, of course, are welcome. It would probably cost in excess of $50k to elect someone of my considerable qualifications, but it would cost far less to dissuade me from squandering said qualifications on an attempt to steer the Chambers of Hunt and Hickey in a more productive direction.

    Mail them checks to me! Be sure to label them "encouragement" or "discouragement."

  18. Bill Fleming 2011.04.24

    I submit that my quote was more than apt, not to mention accurate. What I said was '...Newland is making noises...' the veracity of which is clearly demonstrated by his post above.' ;-).

  19. Douglas Wiken 2011.04.24

    Newland "noise" is heavenly music compared to the Retrograde Republican caterwauling mythology and talking point nonsense that is taken altogether too seriously by the reality tone deaf.

  20. Stace Nelson 2011.04.24

    I have read of no laws broken Mr. "H," if you are aware as such, please state what statutes the good Mr. Russell is accused of. My understanding is that he received a court order allowing the grand jury information to be released AND he stomped on Judge Davis’ toes by publically lamenting the slow pace at which a murder trial was kept from being tried? If such lawyerly "misconduct" incites your ire, where is the past due condemnation of the FELONIOUS criminal actions of the man you supported in last years election?

    I am not privy to the Mr. Sutton you speak of and have never set fingers to moving over the man's affairs. Regardless, I stand by my comments about Rep. Russell and his kids.

    GOP super majority? You jest! You are waaaaay too intelligent for such a simplistic statement and misrepresentation of the balance of ideologies in our state capital.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.24

    Stace, did you read what Bob Mercer wrote? Or perhaps the Supreme Court's ruling itself, and SDCL 23A-5-16, which concerns grand jury proceedings and which purportedly well-trained lawyer Russell broke? This isn't about me; this is about the Supreme Court finding Russell acted illegally and deserves censure. Don't take it up with me; take it up with the justices, who know much more about the law than I do.

    Dan Sutton: Google him. Check my links. Then get back to me. I stand by my comments, too, that Sutton's a nice guy, that's he's nice to his family, and that what nice guys he and Russell are remains irrelevant to the question of whether their respective wrongdoings (Sutton's alleged, Russell's established by the Supreme Court) warrant censure by you and your fellow legislators.

    And, um, yeah, the GOP does hold supermajorities in both House and Senate in Pierre. I'm not sure on what basis you deny that fact.

  22. Stace Nelson 2011.04.24

    Mr "H,"
    Well, after reading Bob Mercer's article, the referee's comments, and the statute, it is even more apparent that the mole hill needs MUCH more work before it can be of any significance.

    I would ask you to compare the voting record spreadsheets of all the legislators to show the ideology leanings of the state legislature; however, my requests for such a public service has yet to take wing with the E-board.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.04.24

    What a total non-response. You don't get to just brand a state supreme court ruling on illegal behavior and abuse of public office by a state legislator as a "molehill" and walk away. Oh, wait, I guess when you're in the supermajority, you can do that.

    Don't blow smoke about voting records. What party holds more than two thirds of seats in both houses? GOP. That's supermajority. Nd you guys are obviously going to stick together for one of your own.

  24. mike 2011.04.24

    Kind of odd that people were calling for Manny Steele's resignation for a "statement" and Lance's action are not a big deal.

    I'd like to know more before I form a decision.

  25. Shelly 2011.04.25

    Don't worry too much about what Stace says, Cory. He doesn't read the articles all the way through anyway.

  26. Bloggin' Bob from Decorum Forum 2011.04.25

    Lance Russell and Stace Nelson both support policies that divert unimagineable sums of money to the most vicious people on Earth and ensure a ready supply of dangerous substances to schoolchildren here in the USA. Neither would consider even a cursory view of evidence to that effect. They are both government-loving socialists.

  27. Richard 2011.04.26

    That whole golf course episode was a circus from the get go. Russel abused the power of his position to placate his buddy the construction "expert". If a state's attorney is not aware grand jury proceedings are not to be disclosed, they have no business in that office. Then he goes and calls out the presiding judge of the circuit. That takes balls...and is stupid. Then it turns out the reason for the delay on the murder trial was not due to judge dragging feet, like Russell claimed, but because he hadn't provided the defense with all the discovery. Russell would do well to apologize then just shut up about it, as would the few people are trying to defend him on this. Russell is a hardcore ideologue who paid his dues to the party, and that is why mums the word on R blogs like SDWC.

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