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Lust Admits Error, LRC Staff Denies Confidentiality Violations or Pressure

Last updated on 2014.09.13

If I only knew what I read in the papers, I'd say the allegations of ethics violations by South Dakota's House GOP leadership are dead. In his report on yesterday's ad hoc subcommittee hearing in Pierre, Bob Mercer declares the fuss "might be resolved" by a good manly hug:

House Republican leader David Lust, a Rapid City lawyer, sat down and publicly apologized for his comments during a private meeting last winter about the work product of the Legislative Research Council, the nonpartisan professional staff.

Specifically mentioned was Reuben Bezpaletz, the senior lawyer who's been at LRC since 1972.

Lust told the three legislators on the investigation panel that "a well-intentioned discussion" mushroomed into something that wasn't intended. He said that, in his zeal to look out for legislators and the process, he might have stepped on toes.

"I should have been more sensitive to that," he said.

Lust then stood, turned and hugged Bezpaletz with several loud man-claps on the back [Bob Mercer, "S.D. Legislative Spying Allegations Might Be Resolved," Aberdeen American News, 2012.01.04].

Contrary to their indications on Monday, Reps. Lance Russell and Stace Nelson made the trip to Pierre to testify, as did seven other legislators. Some were encouraged to attend by Rep. Cutler's announcement during the hearing that declining to testify when summoned is a Class 2 misdemeanor that can get a legislator kicked out of office for good. Rep. Lora Hubbel offered this explanation about her signing the original December 6 letter of complaint:

Rep. Lora Hubbel, R-Sioux Falls, told the investigatory committee that she signed the letter because she hoped to get information about why a legislative committee voted 13-0 to kill her legislation declaring President Obama's federal health-care law to be null in South Dakota [Mercer, 2012.01.04].

While the agenda for yesterday's hearing was somewhat vague, I'm pretty sure it did not include re-explaining to Rep. Hubbel in single-syllable words why nullification is bad. I was hoping Hubbel's interest in this matter was something more than a product of her futile and ill-informed Teabaggery. I was perhaps too hopeful.

The most important testimony came from Bezpaletz and LRC director Jim Fry, who "denied there was any confidential information passed or pressure exerted regarding other legislators' drafts." Bezpaletz "repeatedly disputed Rep. Stace Nelson's versions of events." I've been waiting to hear the straight dope from the LRC staff; now we have it on the record. If we can take anyone's word, it's the word of our Legislative Research Council. If they say there's no fire, there's no fire.


  1. Bill Fleming 2012.01.04

    It's pretty easy to understand this whole kerfuffle if you take it in context.

    (The last few grafs of the Mercer article are particularly instructive.)

    Perhaps the best way to explain it would be a little movie.

    It would be a lot like the movie "Fargo."

    Did Stacey Nelson get a hug?

    The article didn't say.

    I sure hope so.

  2. Bill Fleming 2012.01.04

    Opening scene as per Fargo:

    "You know, if these numbers are right, this deal looks pretty sweet."

    "Oh, those numbers are right, alright."


    "Yah, it's sweet alright."

    "But what's this here. This astrology thing?"

    "Oh. that's just the science part."


    "Not much snow this year, aye?"

    "Yah, must be a sign, aye?"

    "Yah, a sign."


  3. Bill Fleming 2012.01.04

    Next scene: Lust's office. He's reading the newspaper.

    "Astrology! What the effing WTF!?"

    (fade to white)

  4. troy jones 2012.01.04

    I am glad everyone was there. We have "tried" this matter in public where nobody was face-to-face. Nothing ever gets resolved when people are talking past the other. Direct face-to-face naturally resolves matters.

  5. Bill Fleming 2012.01.04

    Troy's right alright.

  6. Steve Sibson 2012.01.04

    I smell a coverup. We have a he says vs he says. The real victim here is the truth. Stace needs to do some DNA on the stained dress.

  7. Steve Sibson 2012.01.04

    "I was hoping Hubbel’s interest in this matter was something more than a product of her futile and ill-informed Teabaggery."

    Cory, your hatred/bigotry is showing through. An ostrich is the last type to talk about "ill-informed'.

  8. troy jones 2012.01.04


    Coverup? Serious?

    At the heart of the accusations was what Rueben Bezpaletz said never happened. At the same time, he seemed to concede how what he said could be misconstrued. This happens all the time.

    I neither think it an indictment of Lust/Turbiville/Fry or of Nelson et. al. Heat of the moment and strong emotions/opinions often lead to matters getting both blown out of proportion and perceptions of "wrong" acts. And usually, a face-to-face meeting reconciles the matter.

    Like it or not, it appears Nelson et. al. do not doubt Bezpaletz's character. He was the witness to the alleged wrong-doing. Not Nelson et. al. And, until/if Nelson asserts Bezpaletz is lying, the matter is done.

    And, since you, at best, don't even know Rueben, you have no basis to essentially accuse him of lying. I think it is only Nelson who had a direct conversation with Bezpaletz. If he won't claim he lied, you certainly can't. And to do so is an offense against the truth (a form of lying itself) when you assume the moral fault of another without any evidence.

    P.S. While I do think Cory's comment about Hubbel is hyperbolic, this entire matter had both sides going over-the-top with regard to hyperbole, including accusing people of a coverup. Time to just settle down, get to Pierre and vote on the people's business.

  9. Bob Newland 2012.01.04

    I know Rueben Bespaletz. I'd take his word over the word of any legislator.

  10. Steve Sibson 2012.01.04

    "Not Nelson et. al. And, until/if Nelson asserts Bezpaletz is lying, the matter is done."

    Like I said, Stace needs to do DNA on the stained dress. I know how the political process works, without having to know Bezpaletz.

    The last thing the SDGOP wanted was nullification on Obamacare as they were implementing it themselves via SB 38. The fundraising letter I received from the SDGOP using Obama as a reason to send them money is a joke. They should get plenty of money from the Big Insurance and Medical Corporate establishment lobbies who will benefit from Obamacare.

    And the last thing the SDGOP wanted was to deal with illegal immigration when their Big Business special interests are in need of cheap labor. I am sure they will be sending the SDGOP large amounts of money too.

    Cory, are you really in support of this fascist agenda? Socialism plus capitalism plus Hegelian dialectic equals fascism.

  11. Bob Newland 2012.01.04

    And I shudder to think of being hugged by David Lust. Eeeeeuuuwwwww!

  12. Bill Fleming 2012.01.04

    Next scene, Rueben Bezpaletz et al sitting in front if Dave Lusk's desk which has been slightly elevated with 4 cinder blocks to make him look taller as he sits on a bar stool behind it.

    "So what the effing eff, Ruben? What are you guys doing putting that Astrology word in those bills and stuff. You're making us look like a bunch of North Dakota dorks. From now on I wanna know what the heck those guys are doing over there with those bills. So I want you to tell me right now or I'm gonna hand you your damn hat and send you down the road."

    "Well Dave, you know what, why don't you just kiss my rosy red backside about that, okay, fella?"

    (Flip-cut to graphic super that says "...minutes later outside Bezpaletz's office..." We see Lance Russell with a paper cup to his ear on one side with the other side up against Reuben's office door.)

    Reuben's secretary is looking at Lance, disgusted.

    "Hey, what the heck are you doin' over there mister. Get back over there and sit down, doggone it."

    Lance waves her off like she was insignificant. Then, hearing the door latch rattling, he quickly runs over to his chair, picks up a magazine upside down and pretends like he's reading it.

    Fry and another guy come out of the office...

    "I like how Reuben told that Lust guy to kiss our butts."

    Yah. Me too, by golly."

    Reuben storms out of office behind them and says to secretary:

    "Is that all for today? I'm pretty fed up."

    "Mr. Russell is here to see you."

    (..under his breath "Oh crap.")

    "Okay, so who is HE now?"

    Secratery puts finger to lips in a "shhh" gesture and points over to Lance
    who is now wiggling in his chair kind of doing a kind of sit-down pee-pee dance.

    (in a loud whisper) "Alright, send him in in about three or four minutes. I gotta calm down a little in there first you know?"

    Secretary puts on her eyeglasses slowly and picks up a piece of paper to look kind of busy.

    "Yah, okay then."

  13. Bill Fleming 2012.01.04

    Camera zooms in on peephole in Rueben's door and we see an eyeball looking around curiously. As we pull back out we see Sibby looking through a magnifying glass at the outside walls of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, making sketches, and comparing his drawings to some medieval Knight's Templar symbols, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and some scribbles on the back of an old Jefferson Airplane album cover.

    He's so preoccupied he doesn't see Stace Nelson walk up until the big guy clears his throat.

    *ahem* "Mr. Sibson. We're needed."

    Sibby stares at Stace for a long, pregnant moment and fails to notice that the sun streaming through his magnifying glass has focused on the Corn Palace and set it on fire.

    A little flame pops out. Stace puts it out with what's left in his PBR can.

    Puff of steam provides white out transition into next scene.

  14. Bill Fleming 2012.01.04

    Okay, I've gotta go to Sioux Falls for a few days, Cory and will be kind of our-of-pocket. Feel free to finish the script up yourself, or invite your other readers to take a whack at it. ...and try to work Troy and Schoenbeck in there somewhere.

  15. Steve Sibson 2012.01.04

    So Bill Fleming likes fascism too?

  16. Steve Sibson 2012.01.04

    So can those of you who know Rueben Bezpaletz, can you tell me if he is in any service groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc) and if so, which ones.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.04

    It's not about hatred or bigotry, Steve; it's about going to a hearing and staying on topic. I know the legislators may have had a tough time staying on topic given that the subcommittee did a poor job of stating what exactly the topic for the day was. But the hearing was most definitely not about re-arguing the merits of any specific bill. It was about very simply getting evidence from LRC staff about alleged wrongdoing. If LRC staff had any evidence/firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing, they avoided sharing it yesterday in public. That's pretty much all this hearing needed to discuss. It's just too bad the hearing didn't take any statements under oath.

  18. MC 2012.01.04

    I think Troy hit the nail on the head (as normal) someone said something and taken out of context (as normal), and actions were taken that were over the top (as normal), then the cover up of something that didn't happen got even worse (as normal)

    Once there is a face to face meeting, and the 'real' facts are revealed we find there is a smoke over nothing (as normal) We need to get ready to get down to the people business, as normal, and put this all behind us. That task would be very adnormal, as politicians seem to never forget these type of things.

  19. Steve Sibson 2012.01.04

    "If LRC staff had any evidence/firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing, they avoided sharing it yesterday in public."

    Was that because the wrongdoing was on their shoulders.

  20. Steve Sibson 2012.01.04

    "the ‘real’ facts are revealed"

    It was a kangaroo court that was planned out ahead of time. Facts were not the goal.

  21. Bill Fleming 2012.01.05

    Smoke fade from Corn Palace fire blurs and resolves into face of golden labrador running, panting, seemingly smiling, quick blur cuts of lab paws and pheasant feet racing through corn rows intermingled with feet of a man in wing tips and business suit trousers also walking briskly through corn rows. SFX dogs panting, roosters cackling, human puffing slightly out of breath.

    Cut to high overhead boom shot where we see that six golden labs have rounded up six rooster pheasants into an almost perfect circle. Boom comes down as Schoenbeck enters scene carrying antique exposed hammer double barrel 12 guage

  22. Bill Fleming 2012.01.05

    Lee leans shotgun against corn stalk and takes out pro wrist rifle style sling shot and a handful of buckshot and shouts


    First bird goes up and Schoenbeck takes it down with one BB. In raped succession, the takes down four more until Troy Jones enters scene and interrupts last shot.

    Dang. What the heck, Troy.

    We got a problem, Lee?

    A problem?

    Oh yah.

    A BIG problem?

    Oh heck yah.

    Stacy Nelson again?

    Oh yah, it's Nelson alright.

    (Lee under his breath)

    Cock smoker!

  23. troy jones 2012.01.05

    Bill, you are too funny.

  24. Steve Sibson 2012.01.05

    Troy, not suprised you are with Fleming. It is more and more clear that the real battle is the little guys versus the leadership of both political parties.

  25. troy jones 2012.01.05

    Steve, Bill is mostly making fun of my relationship with Lee. We've been friends for 35 years, our daughters are college roommates, and we hunt together. Lee is a quick shot, will shoot birds in my range, and the only way to get a shot is to distract him. Bill knows this as he has hunted with Lee (I think you were there too so you know this too). Stop with the conspiracy theories. Sometimes we'd all do well to laugh. I'm sure Stace is laughing too if he saw this.

  26. Bill Fleming 2012.01.05

    Maybe Sibb just doesn't like being in the movies. Some people don't you know?

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.05

    Bill, definitely an entry for the next South Dakota Film Festival. When do we shoot?

    Larry, now that's a scandal! Enough of this he-said-she-said-Schrödinger's-cat stuff; let's have a real scandal with money, debt, and receipts!

  28. Douglas Wiken 2012.01.05

    I can't wait for the scene with this in it:

    "In raped succession, "

    It might have something to do with Republican nepotism, but I'm not sure.

  29. troy jones 2012.01.05

    Doug, I missed that type in Bill's screen play. At first I was "Huh?" Again, funny. Maybe you can help Bill make fun of some Dem's in the film. Here is couple of ideas:

    Bernie Hunhof as a bespeckled Gilligan-esque guy saying "Can't we just get along"

    Cory as a bike riding Pee Wee Herman-esque squeaking all the time about Kristi Noem.

    Fleming as a Cheech-ish (or Chong-ish. I get them confused. The guy who was on Miami Vice) chubby hippie.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.05

    Troy, I know you are but what am I? :-P

  31. Bill Fleming 2012.01.05

    cut to extreme close up of spit-shined combat boots standing in well manicured lawn grass next to wheel of a massive portable BBQ pit. s we pan up slowly we see darke blue pinstriped tuxedo pants tucked into top of boots and blouses out, military style. Continue pan up and back to reveal bright red cumber-bun encrusted with a variety of cub and boy scout merit badges, a couple of military police officer badges, a high school diploma ribbon and a few gold star stickies. farther up we see a large American flag lapel pin and under it, a second pin en robed with the letters 'Hu Rah.' Pulling back to full figure we see Stacey Nelson standing next to small pony beer keg with the steaming leg of a fairly large animal in one hand. he tears off a huge chunk of flesh with his teeth and speaks practically incoherently to the man standing next to him, because his mouth is full of meat,k th juice streaming down his chin.

    This here's gone good eaten' Pedro. Lamb ain't it?

    Si seni... Uh, I mean Yes, Meester Stacee.

    Well it taste actually a little better'n lamb, Pete. if I didn't know better, I'd say it was goat. you ever had goat, Pete?

    Um... No seni... Uh...Stacee. No goat, ese.

    Well it's dang nice of you and Betsy to invite me to yer weddin'

  32. Bill Fleming 2012.01.05

    ...typing this on my iPad in Starbucks. Too hard... I'll get back to it later... Laughing too hard right now... Too many typos... Like raped fire... LOL. later amigos. keep your powder dry, vatos.

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