Press "Enter" to skip to content

Powers Offers Political Consulting While Working for Secretary of State

Last updated on 2014.11.24

When blogger Pat Powers grabbed the golden patronage ring after the 2010 election, his new boss, Secretary of State Jason Gant, said Powers wouldn't have time for political shenanigans:

Secretary of State-elect Jason Gant says he didn't tell Pat Powers to impose the nuclear option on the South Dakota War College archives.

But Gant did tell his new director of operations that blogging and directing SOS operations wouldn't mix.

"He won't be blogging anymore," Gant said Monday. "There's no time. There's too much work to do. He's going to be working full time."

And I suppose it wouldn't look good for an SOS DOO to be ripping folks in public. Hence, the deleted War College archives.

It's up to Powers, the often-cantankerous Republican who fathered the South Dakota War College blog, to decide whether he lives in Brookings and works in Pierre or moves to Pierre, his home town.

"He'll be working 8 to 5 every day," Gant said. "It's up to him where he lives" [Kevin Woster, "From War College to SOS, in a Cloud of Nuked Archives," Mount Blogmore, 2010.12.13].

But after 5 p.m., Powers apparently still has time to make some money off the elections he helps his boss oversee. Mr. Ehrisman notes with concern that Powers still operates, a political advertising and consulting firm. Now it's one thing that Powers will switch on his printer and shoot out 5000 postcards or stickers for your campaign. It's a-whole-nother thing that a current employee of the South Dakota Secretary of State's office will sit down with you and advise you how to win an election:

We do more than print materials. We're available for more in-depth consultation depending on your experience, and your needs. We can design a strategy based on your resources to take you from the ground floor to being a serious competitor [Pat Powers, promotional text,, downloaded 2012.05.07].

I'm going to be submitting a whole whack of petitions to Secretary Gant's office in the coming weeks. Forgive me if I find it a little disconcerting that one of the Secretary's top lieutenants could make a lot of money from people who oppose what I'm trying to put on the ballot. Come November, we'll all be counting on Gant and company to count ballots fairly. How confident can we be in the fairness of that process when one of those counters has a direct financial interest in seeing some of those races tilt in favor of his paying customers?

I harbor no illusions about the political impartiality of Secretary Gant's hand-picked staff of hyperpartisans. But on top of that, Powers layers financial partiality. If we can draw an ethical line anywhere in South Dakota government, an employee of the state election chief freelancing as a campaign consultant would seem to be somewhere south of it.


  1. hmr59 2012.05.07

    Perhaps it's not considered illegal, but it doesn't come close to passing the smell test. Mr. Powers should be given the choice - state job or consulting. One thing I always liked about Chris Nelson was the level of integrity he and his staff maintained in Sec. of State's office. As soon as Gant was elected, my confidence in that standard began to wane; but, in a one-party state, I guess that's what you get...

  2. LK 2012.05.07

    hmr spells it out pretty well. The idea that an active political consultant is in charge of any election doesn't pass the smell test.

    Were I in a smart-A mood, I might speculate that the Governor is cutting all members of the executive branch to half time so Powers needs to supplement his income.

  3. larry kurtz 2012.05.07

    Gant swerves: "
    Please keep former US Senator Jim Abdnor in your thoughts." @arguspoliblog SDSOS Jason Gant ‏@SOSGant

  4. Erin F 2012.05.07

    While Powers may have had to take down the old War College site because it would be a clear conflict of interest and source of legal and ethical concerns for the Secretary of State's office, there were reasons outside of that for burying it. In its last months, there was a flurry of activity on War College in sudden revisions and deletions of posts. Powers had ventured far into defamation that clearly violated libel laws. Some of those deleted and suddenly changed posts are in the files of lawyers, but what prevented lawsuits from going forward was that Powers did not have anything to sue over. That fact produced some attempts to make bloggers responsible for false and defamatory material that appeared on their blogs. One group even proposed that bloggers, like doctors and lawyers, be required to carry liability insurance. For many reasons, that idea was quickly shot down because insurance companies claimed they would have to charge huge premiums that few could afford, would have to require that their legal departments review blog posts before they were published, and would have to get involved in revising and clarifying libel laws in all 50 states. But then, War College disappeared and things got quiet regarding the liabilities of bloggers.

    Another aspect of War College was that many people said it had become the propaganda arm of the state GOP office, which set its agenda and content. Powers was extremely sensitive to and defensive about that contention. That accusation has followed him to the SOS office, because many people in both parties think that the office is run to carry out the state GOP agenda.

  5. jana 2012.05.07

    Cory, your statement of "I harbor no illusions about the political impartiality of Secretary Gant’s hand-picked staff of hyperpartisans. But on top of that, Powers layers financial partiality."

    Didn't his boss, Gant, have a political PAC that was dedicated to using his money, and the money that he could recruit, into buying a permanent Republican majority? (Like that was a big concern in South Dakota)

    Does his boss still have that PAC? If not, where did that money, and his promises, go?

    Maybe Jason and Pat should address these issues with the media, or conversely, maybe a member of the media with just a smidgeon of curiosity would ask them...just a thought. I am sure that they would recognize the impropriety or risk of impropriety. (Of course if it's not their idea it won't happen.)

    As far as Pat's political consulting goes, do you suppose the problems of some Democratic candidates' applications for candidacy that were rejected by Powers/Gant wouldn't have happened if they had paid Pat up front for his political expertise? You know, for the expert advice on bumper stickers and other stuff.

    I'm just guessing that there is not a check and balance for this activity that exists in a hyperpartisan state such as ours. Who watches over the Secretary of State on these matters? Someone non-partisan like Mr. Jackley? The totally non-partisan Governor's office?

    What's the old saying about absolute (P)ower?

  6. Steve Sibson 2012.05.07

    "The totally non-partisan Governor’s office?"

    Must be non-partisan with all the Obama policies they are implementing. I am starting to really get a kick out of how simple-minded politics is nowadays.

  7. jana 2012.05.07

    Let me clarify media, as it makes it sound like the Madville Times, Mt. Blogmore, South Dakota Politics aren't media...make no mistake, they are.

    Let's change that to older media like the Argus, Cap Journal, Daily Republic, Keloland, KOTA, etc... Guessing some of these guys would feel a need to inform the public or at least ask more questions to protect the public.

    (It still is all guys isn't it Bob, Kevin, Tom, Dexter, John, Kevin, David, Jonathon, Korrie, Mark, Rick, Kelly... ?) Nothing wrong with that though...

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.07

    Dang it, Erin! And here I thought I was the inspiration for the Hamiel-Turbak Blog Control Acts. ;-)

    The Gant PAC: dang it, Jana! Now I'm going to have to go researching. Sibby, make yourself useful: take a break from all this silly Daugaard=Obama talk and go find the papers on the Gant PAC. (You know you're good at that kind of thing, Sibby!)

    By the way, Jana, that's one of the more clever uses of parentheses I've seen this week. Carry on!

  9. jana 2012.05.07

    Here's a clue Sibby, it was a post on the old Pat Powers run DWC. Of course that piece of incriminating evidence might have been why his new boss asked him to scrub the old site...

    But here's another clue...

    Scroll down to the Committed to Victory PAC and the contact name is the same as the guy who has his mug at the top of the know, the guy who's job it is to make sure that PACs play by the rules...

    I'm just not sure as to what he's committed.

    But, I would be remiss if I didn't leave you all with one word...grandiloquent...Bill? Any help here? ;-)

    Maybe if used in a sentence it will make more sense.

    "Why does the name “Rose Mary Woods” keep bouncing around in my head whenever I think about Mr. Powers and his grandiloquent erasure?"

  10. David Newquist 2012.05.07

    This raises a question. When Gant took over as Secretary of State, he announced that Aaron Lorenzen was replacing Kea Warne as elections supervisor. In all the correspondence I get from that office regarding elections and campaign finance reports, I have never seen his name. Nor do I see him listed on the web site. What's up, or down, here?

  11. Bill Fleming 2012.05.08

    Jana, "grandiloquent erasure." I like it. A sesquipedalian oxymoron.

  12. Steve Sibson 2012.05.08

    "Sibby, make yourself useful: take a break from all this silly Daugaard=Obama talk and go find the papers on the Gant PAC."

    Be glad you help you out...once you stop calling truth silly. Once the Dems understand that government is not the solution, it is the problem we can become united. Didn't someone else say that a ways back? Before his globalist vice-pres took over.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.08

    I understand that neither government nor the free market is the solution to everything. I understand the government is the solution for some things. In this specific case, I understand that Pat Powers's behavior while working in government is a problem.

  14. Bill Fleming 2012.05.08

    Sibby you have your own reasons for researching Mr. Powers. You don't need to cut any unholy deals with the Dems in order to pursue this.

    Besides, I'm guessing you won't find anything. I would be really surprised to learn that Powers is working on anyone's political campaign while he's working for the SDSOS. (Or as one of my GOP pals says, "shocked".)

    The problem here is that PP's been put into kind of a double bind here.

    First there is the difficulty (impossibility?) of trying to prove a negative. And second, if Powers is going to remain true to his committment to staying off the blogs, he's not going to come here to defend himself.

    I know, I know, so what, right? That's the kind of thing he used to do to people all the time at SDWC. Well, yeah, but that doesn't make it right.

    I think we need more evidence than the fact PP left his old consultant website up before actually accusing him of doing anything untoward.

    I think it's more fun doing stuff like that to people who can fight back.

    Like Sibby.

    When you accuse him of being a Lutheran.

  15. testor15 2012.05.08

    Hey Bill Fleming, it is not a website from years ago, not taken down. It is a website currently selling services for 2012 election season and it still has links to and from DWC.

  16. Bill Fleming 2012.05.08

    Ah, yes, I see now, Testor15. Just went there for a closer look. It does indeed appear that he's marketing campaign materials and continually updating the site. I wonder if he's actively consulting as well?

  17. testor15 2012.05.08

    And if is doing either, how does it affect his ability to be impartial, straight-up and honest in an office designed to be impartial, straight-up and honest.

  18. Bill Fleming 2012.05.08

    Good question. Maybe we should ask him. Has anyone tried to contact him about this? It seems pretty easy to do. The phone number and a contact form are right there on the website. Why not get the info straight from the horse's... um... mouth, so to speak?

    Sibby might be a good one for that. He's doing a campaign. Maybe he should get some quotes from PP and see how much a little professional consulting will set him back. It's not like he actually has to buy anything. Just do a little online shoppin'.

    C'mon Sibb, get up off it. Your public awaits. Do your thing, buddy.

  19. Testor15 2012.05.08

    PP and crowd want to tell their version of the 'facts' but hate it when they are the focus of the 'facts'. So PP, get in here and tell us your version.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.08

    Powers decided the public didn't need his version when he deleted his blog to take his patronage job. He can now follow through by deleting his campaign services website and ceasing operations as a private campaign consultant.

  21. Jana 2012.05.08

    Of course I'm a little biased when it comes to abuses and conflicts of interest from the ruling party of South Dakota.

    I'm guessing Marty Jackley and the Governor have embraced these conflicts....oh wait...what...they haven't looked at these conflicts? Who'd have guessed? It's possible that the the Governor and AG get a benefit from this arrangement as well. Not saying they are...just that they could.

    So, how about it Republicans, is the SOS having a PAC, that he controls and regulates, a conflict of interest? There's no way that the people who's arms he twisted for political money would have any influence on the office. Would there Jason? How will we know?

    Is having the #2 man in the SOS office also making money as a political consultant a conflict of interest? How would we know if Pat was using his time on the taxpayer dollar to run his little shop? We wouldn't, would we Pat. But hey, what a sales me, I have great sway in the ways of elections in SD.

    Sorry boys, but there should be resignations on the Governors desk tomorrow and then they can go back to running PACS and blogs.

  22. testor15 2012.05.09

    How are we to believe either could leave their private lives at home and be faithful to their official offices. They would be super human.

  23. larry kurtz 2012.05.16

    Anyone else notice PP is out of the banner over there?

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.16

    Why Larry, you appear to be correct! I wonder what happened....

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.16

    Oh, it gets better! If you try to access, you get a brief flash of that page with a statement at the bottom saying "This page is too darned old. Hold for forwarding....." The site then kicks your browser to,,, and finally the great Rick-Roll video. Pat owns both of the Dakota domains. Google tells me otaku is Japanese for "Young people who are highly skilled in or obsessed with computer technology to the detriment of their social skills." Clever, Pat.

  26. Bill Fleming 2012.05.17

    That's hilarious.

  27. Testor15 2012.05.17

    Jana and Cory,
    There should be resignations and criminal charges but in our one party state and a long history of SD versions of Jim Crow laws there won't be. Marty Jackboots is part of the process and problem.

  28. Jana 2012.05.27

    So the Argus Leader runs this today on Secretary of State know, the guy in charge of keeping our elections fair, has endorsed a candidate now.|newswell|text|Home|s

    Let's try a sports analogy to see if this passes the smell test.

    Imagine that there are two umpires who will be calling the Twins vs. Yankees game. One of the umpires owns a pro Yankee fan club site and offers consulting to the Yankees on base stealing, pitching on the corners and how to work the umps. The other umpire just comes right out and declares his support and loyalty to Yankee team captain Derek Jeter.

    How many baseball fans would think this passed any smell test? How many fans would think that this was good for the game of baseball?

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.27

    Wow: Gant thinks he can do whatever he wants, doesn't he?

  30. grudznick 2012.05.27

    Mr. Gant probably does not umpire baseball. Thusly, the comparison isn't valid.

    (I was a great debator in my day, and I know the use of the word thusly declares a victory for me in this argument while no preventing any rebutle.)

  31. Jana 2012.05.27

    Yes Cory, he does think he can do anything...and sadly...there's no one that can stop him from turning his office and the electoral process into a political sham.

    I can see how Howie, Stace, Hubbel, Ellis et. al. think that the system is rigged at this point. I can even hear them calling this the Daugaard politburo and describing rule by fiat.

    You would think that somewhere the CEO and author of a nationally syndicated blog would be all over this.

Comments are closed.