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Senator Adelstein Denies Secretary Gant Audience After Impeachment Threat

David Lias of the Vermillion Plain Talk jumps on a curious press release from Senator Stanford Adelstein. Here's the main text:

Senator Stan Adelstein who, Sunday, released his letter to the Attorney General asking for an investigation of the Secretary of State's office, notified Attorney General Marty Jackley that Secretary of State Jason Gant appeared at the Senator's office in Rapid City at 4:55 p.m. MDT, Monday, 18 June 2012, asking to see him.

Senator Adelstein asked the receptionist to tell the Secretary that he "did not wish to see him."

"I am not interested in playing political games," Adelstein said. "Chicago-type discussions may be acceptable to the Speaker of the House Val Rasuch, but not to this Senator!" [Senator Stanford Adelstein, press release, 2012.06.19, posted by David Lias]

Whoa. Secretary Gant drove from Pierre to Rapid City to chat with Senator Adelstein? Either it was a slow day at the Capitol (sure, nothing going on but citizens turning in 1829 sheets with 30,000 signatures on the referendum deadline day), or Secretary Gant recognizes the Senator's impeachment talk is more serious than we blog gadflies might have thought.

The rest of the press is certainly paying attention. Mr. Mercer fills in some timeframe and speculates not dismissively on the odds of impeachment. Mr. Lengerich gets Secretary Gant to say on the record that Powers' side job as a political consultant was an inappropriate distraction from his official duties. Mr. Lengerich also gets Rep. Val Rausch to reveal that he did indeed buy political materials from Powers for this year's primary race, in which he received Secretary Gant's unusual public endorsement. The dots are connecting!

Senator Adelstein also includes in his press release the text of two Monday blog posts, mine and Scott Ehrisman's, discussing Senator Adelstein's push to investigate Gant and his lieutenant Pat Powers for possibly improper political activity. The Senator appears inclined to hoist Mr. Powers by the blogospheric petard with which Powers so piqued Adelstein during previous campaigns.

Update 17:51 CDT: Mr. Mercer raises an eyebrow at the timing of Secretary Gant's abortive visit to Senator Adelstein:

Assuming the senator has the time correct, this would have been just 55 minutes after the deadline for referendum petitions to have been filed with the Secretary of State office. How one gets from the second floor of the state Capitol in Pierre, to the senator's office in Rapid City, in a mere 55 minutes is a very good question. Or perhaps Mr. Secretary of State was already on his way west well before the 5 p.m. CDT closing of his state office for the day. As a friend said today, paraphrasing some guy named Imus, "You cannot make this (expletive deleted) up" [Bob Mercer, "The Feud Between Powers and Adelstein—Updated," Pure Pierre Politics, 2012.06.19].

This story is not playing well for the Secretary... and the state Republican convention is this weekend.


  1. Dougal 2012.06.19

    Be careful how you step on people while running up the ladder in politics. You're going to meet them again on the trip down.

    As much as I'd like to see Gant impeached because he's a big threat to voters in his present office, tearing after an employee for his part time consultant business doesn't fit my idea of high crimes. If the employee resigned today, this would cease being a big story. It's interesting that Gant seemed aware of the side business. He would be well-advised to retain an attorney and keep himself and his employee from talking with the press.

  2. mhs 2012.06.19

    A senior senator refusing to meet with a constitutional officer? If anybody should be impeached it should be Stan. What an incredible breach of protocol. I agree with him on most things politically, but, this is way out of line. Dougal, you're dead on. It's an employee issue and Stan needs to butt the Hell out. Apparently, to him Separation of Powers (pun intended) means a personal vendetta, not a constitutional concept.

  3. Mark 2012.06.19

    Talking about impeachment for "an incredible breach of protocol"? I think it would be good for everyone to take a deep breath and let Jackley do his job and respond to Adelstein's letter and take appropriate action if such is necessary.
    That this is turning into a political circus is unfortunate. While mhs cleverly alludes to a separation of powers issue, I think we all agree that this should be resolved sooner rather than later lest it becomes a breeding ground for more public cynicism or potential fodder for Saturday Night Live.

  4. Steve Sibson 2012.06.19

    "That this is turning into a political circus is unfortunate."

    Should make for an interesting SDGOP convention thsi week.

    Anybody else having trouble accessing SDWC. My last hits were at 2:06PM today. I wonder if they are having the same kind of melting we saw at the ending of the Wizard of Oz?

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    If there is a protocol issue, the Senator may be on the right side. A face-to-face could be useful, but the Senator has asked for an official investigation. Is a private conversation with the person facing investigation appropriate?

  6. Stan Adelstein 2012.06.19

    2. If Sec’y Gant really cares about the “distraction” of Powers’ outside job(s) go to Powers Real Estate website. Here he features a house at 378 West Lake Drive, Lake Norden, SD Goggle maps say to show it, Powers must go 186 mi, 3 hours 47 mins. Let’s see how long after this posting Powers take this down. By the way is this house owned by anyone in politics?? I really did not take the time to check.

    Stan Adelstein

  7. TCMack 2012.06.19

    It looks like Steve is right War College is down. I wondering how long before it will come back on-line?

  8. Jana 2012.06.19

    Cory, you ask if a private conversation is appropriate. Just wondering if PP and the War College sought out a private conversation before he ripped into Senator Adelstein?

  9. mike 2012.06.19

    The real problem is that Gant needs to take control of whatever is causing these problems.

    He needs to say PP your work is here in this office. I know we had other arangements when you took this job. I appreciate your contribution and want you to stay but if you can't stop the blog and stop the campaign store activity you need to leave.

    It's a simple problem. No more politics. Focus on work here. In 2014 when Gant runs for reelection PP can get involved in that campaign. In 2018 if Gant wants to run for Governor PP can get involved in that campaign but not in anyone elses campaigns.

    Most of my colleagues impressions are that Gant is not running the show. It's time for him to take control of the office before it is too late.

  10. Rorschach 2012.06.19

    If Powers can run a campaign store in his spare time, and a real estate company in his spare time, why can't he run a political blog in his spare time? Maybe he does.

    Interesting that when Rep. Rausch buys campaign products or services from the secretary of state's hand-picked deputy, he also gets the political endorsement of the secretary of state himself. Remind me. Who is the impartial person overseeing elections in South Dakota?

    By the way, Pat Powers did register Dakota Campaign Store as a fictitious business name with the SOS office on 3/21/12. If he was operating under that name prior to that filing, I'm sure that Secretary Gant charged him with a class 2 misdemeanor as the law calls for. The Secretary of State certainly wouldn't overlook a criminal violation of one of his employees (which would also fall into the category of incompetence when it's one of his employees).

  11. Rorschach 2012.06.19

    Just to clarify my last sentence, if Powers failed to timely register his fictitious business name with the Secretary of State even while working for the Secretary of State, that is incompetence by Powers. If Secretary of State Gant knew Powers was running Dakota Campaign Store and failed to verify whether the business was properly registered, that is incompetence by Gant. If Gant failed to have Powers charged with a class 2 misdemeanor (SDCL 37-11-1) for failing to timely register his fictitious business name, that's either incompentence or potentially malfeasance by Gant.

  12. Rorschach 2012.06.19

    Re-checking the Secretary of State's fictitious business names database, the Dakota War College is still registered to Pat Powers, and has been since May 7, 2008. Powers can hardly claim ignorance of the need to register fictitious names, even if ignorance were an excuse for violating the law. I wonder what Bill Clay would say about all of this?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    Holy cow, R: do all of us bloggers need to be registered in the ficbizname database? Are we "doing business"?

  14. Dougal 2012.06.19

    Let’s see. Looking over these posts, it seems the rules to do bizness in the Jason Gant Secretary of State office includes:

    • Candidates buying the services of an employee’s sideline campaign consultant business, Dakota Campaign Store. By the way, isn’t Gant’s naughty employee the officer in charge of elections?

    • Buying Jason Gant’s silence on the employee running a side business which clearly is in conflict with his and Gant’s sworn duties to impartially fulfill the legal mission of the Secretary of State’s Office.

    • Buying Gant’s silence that Dakota Campaign Store had not been legally filed until three months ago with Gant’s corporate filings office. The corporate filings office is two flights of stairs directly below the SoS Office in the State Capitol where the errant employee has his desk. [In fact, his office is right next door to the Governor’s Office and across the hall from the Governor’s elite crackerjack staff.]

    • Buying Jason Gant’s political endorsement in return for spending a candidate’s money at Dakota Campaign Store.

    • Buying Jason Gant’s silence on violating the law on your nominating petitions by being a big shot in the state GOP.

    • Traveling three hours to Rapid City to kiss and make up with a senior Senator when the dung starts hitting the fan.

    • Quickly shutting down South Dakota War College when the dung hits the fan. [Hmmm, is it to remove evidence of the Dakota Campaign Store ad? Does this mean that Attorney General Jackley will soon reveal the identity of SDWC’s lead writer Bill Clay, and get back the state revenues that bankrolled Bill Clay while he was blogging on the state taxpayers’ clock?]

    Jackley has only one flight of stairs to walk into the office of SoS Jason Gant and his naughty employee. I hope Jackley stays in his office. Those two tubby boys are providing the best entertainment we’ve seen in decades. They could make us all proud when the national news media starts digging into how bizness gets done in South Dakota’s State Capitol.

  15. Dougal 2012.06.19

    Here’s the link to the Fox Business news story on South Dakota’s status as the second most corrupt state, according to this spring’s study from the Center for Public Integrity. The write-up on South Dakota is especially compelling in light of the Jason Gant scandal:

    2. South Dakota
    > Overall grade: (50%)
    > Public access to information: D+
    > Legislative accountability: F
    > Political financing: F
    > Ethics enforcement agencies: F

    South Dakota, which has the second-highest corruption risk score, has nine failing grades out of 14 categories, and three Ds. The state, which has among the lowest population density in the country, does not have “comprehensive state ethics laws,” an ethics commission or satisfactory transparency laws, as Denise Ross writes for the State Integrity Investigation. The state does little to require public officials, other than judges, to disclose their income and assets. State law features a loophole that makes it possible for individuals to make unlimited political donations. The state has made major improvements in its integrity by making many state records available online in recent years.

    Read more:

  16. Chuck 2012.06.19

    The SOS in SD has always been stayed out of political squabbles and problems. Gant has politicized the Office with this action and previous ones. I don't remember a criticism of this Office in the forty years and now this. The Republicans chose poorly.

  17. Rorschach 2012.06.19

    I don't know Cory. Ask Jason Gant, or Pat Powers, or Bill Clay. I'm just a nebulous inkblot who means different things to different people.

  18. Jana 2012.06.19

    The lack of ethics from Gant and PP are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Gant and Powers are just emblematic of what is wrong with South Dakota governance.

    From the top down, the Republican party sees the state as their little playground to do as they want ranging from setting national policy (abortion laws) to making sure their friends that pay for their campaigns have the backing to get what they want along with a fat contract. And all along the way they pick up their merit badges with the crazy right driven by ALEC and the Koch brothers.

    Last year the governor and his friends in the legislature raped the budgets of school districts from around the state. Hundreds of teachers that have made a difference in the lives of their students were cut. Now they are proposing a smokescreen to cover the cuts they made with HB 1234.

    The governor has surrounded himself with idealogues who make up for their lack of experience with adopting policies designed by demagogues who would love to privatize education...cuz thinking is hard.

    To think that their goal with HB 1234 is about the education of our children and the welfare of our dedicated teachers is laughable.

    Their goal all along is to bow to those who want to kill teachers unions and bring profit to those who want to privatize education for their own good.

  19. David Newquist 2012.06.19

    The problem is not really a matter of what goes around comes around, or being careful who you step on during the attempt to climb up. It is a matter that he who hoists toxic petards has to breathe the toxic air he creates, too. Maddy and Anne make comments over at South DeCola that recall the malicious and dishonest agenda that Powers pursued just before he erased all his work and the wholesale hacking of employees in the SOS office after Gant took charge. The collusive operation Powers started on that wretched blog was probably part of the reason Gant wanted him. This seems to be a grab for political power that is eroding away in the toxic environment these two men think is smart politics.

  20. Jana 2012.06.19

    What will be telling is if the governor's office scrambles to defend their own little faction or if they will actually care what many in South Dakota perceive as an injustice.

    I guess we'll see what Tony wants the Governor to say.

  21. Stan Adelstein 2012.06.19

    Some thought provoking words above, like "separation of powers," "senior Senator and Constitutional Officer," "protocol."

    The separation of powers is right on. As a Legislator, I asked for an investigation of an executive branch office by the chief law enforcement officer of the State. Once I have done that, I have removed myself from participation with the Secretary whose management and behavior I have called in to question.

    Protocol - to my mind - is overridden by principle, mhs. I appreciated your comments, and I think the values which you agree with, are the other basis for my decision not to speak to Secy Gant. He knew why he was here, and I thought that I knew as well.

    Today, when I received the note that he had handwritten in front of the receptionist, I realized that I was correct, and I think that you will change your view, mhs.

    The note said "Just stopped by to see if we could talk. I believe we can resolve this."

    Who is the "we." How do we "resolve" his abuse of responsibility by candidate endorsement? How do "we" "resolve" misuse of information collected (admittedly, IF there is any!)? How do "we" "resolve" inappropriate use of State resources (admittedly IF any) How do "we" "resolve" any misbehavior or deals between the Secretary and the Speaker of House (admittedly IF there were any)

    In the "Chicago political system" the "talk" asked for between a "senior Senator and Constitutional Officer" can be "resolved," because both of the parties of the "we" know how the resolution serves each. I am not in need of service, because this is not Chicago -- and this State has given me more than I could ask; from the time my poor immigrant orthodox Jewish grandmother homesteaded in the "bad"lands.

    Since I must be the "me", that the voters of district 32 elected, rather than half of the "we" that was asked for, I "do not wish to see" Jason Gant. I will await the action IF any of a gifted, integrity driven, Attorney General - "the second of his special tribe I have met." His father and I worked for THE real Republican party before he was born.

    Stan Adelstein


  22. beenthere 2012.06.19

    Who is Mr. Lengerich and where can we read what he wrote ?

  23. mhs 2012.06.19

    Senator, I appreciate your comments and your election to participate in a public forum. I disagree still, with your decision. Elected officials have a duty to engage, as I know you believe in as well. This is a substantive policy issue that, in my mind, obligates your hearing out a constitutional officer. If your desire was not to appear to meet behind closed doors, that is laudable, but there were options. You could have asked our friend Wooster to sit in, for example, and put the burden on Sec Gant to choose to lay out his position openly.

    He's not blameless. He should have called ahead and asked for time. That, if nothing else, is just good manners. In the years I worked for Gov Mickelson, I had lots of unpleasant meetings, many times even taking the lead in getting beat up on by unhappy legislators. We engaged. That's what I believe public servants are supposed to do and where my disagreement lies.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    MHS, I appreciate your reasonable disagreement with Senator Adelstein. I appreciate engagement as much as anyone in this conversation. The thought of inviting Secretary Gant to wait until Mr. Woster and a tape recorder could join them is tantalizing.

    But what's there for Gant to resolve with Adelstein at this point? The Senator has lodged a complaint about the Secretary's conduct. What could Gant have said or done yesterday to Adelstein that would have changed the nature of that complaint or the Attorney General's decision on the need to investigate?

  25. Testor15 2012.06.19

    Senator I laud you on your proper handling of young Mr Gant. You passed on information to the proper legal authorities on a potential criminal enterprise or enterprises. These operations posed potential conflicts to the solemn oath of aligence to the laws of SD.
    There is a criminal matter opened before the SD AG which cannot easily rolled back. My advice for our young Mr Gant and his mentor PeePee is consulting lawyers who deal with felony criminal defense.

  26. mhs 2012.06.19

    If all meetings required a resolution, Congress would be out of a job, Corey. :).

    As Churchill said: "Jaw, jaw jaw is better than war, war, war".

  27. Stan Adelstein 2012.06.19

    I thought I was done, but mhs really got to me. Let me admit, after a few hours I was wondering what would have been talked about, and thought perhaps I had acted to impetuously - as I seem to be doing more often as I age. I then thought that I could have insisted on my secretary Kati and a tape recorder. The idea of Kevin Woster never entered my mind, or for that matter some other third or fourth party who had no "horse in this race." Thank you. I am now supposing - and am almost certain, that was not what the Secy would have accepted. In any case Thank You VERY much. There may be another time... when this would work.

    Now I am trying to decipher mhs - mike?mary?mitch? I am really bad at this, I still do not know who it is if I have the name. I can remember names, and often faces,, but rarely whose.

    please call me some time.

    Stan A

  28. Rorschach 2012.06.19

    Mr. Gant brought a divisive operative in to run the Secretary of State's office, and the office starts to be run in a divisive way for the first time in South Dakota history. Mr. Gant and his divisive operative sidekick are together ruining any political future Mr. Gant hoped to have. If he survives his next 2 years in office it will be his last 2 years in office. Mr. Gant knows what he needs to do to make a change. Will he do it?

  29. mike 2012.06.19

    Are you saying PP needs to go?

  30. mike 2012.06.19

    That would send a strong message from Gant. I don't see him doing that because then you'd wonder why he hired him in the first place...

    Gant must have agreed to allow PP to do this stuff originally which is strange on it's own. Makes me wonder if Gant is as much to blame as PP.

  31. mike 2012.06.19

    What do you want to bet that Marty Jackley feels like he is in a pickle with this letter. Investigate like Adelsein wants over mostly personal issues that go to Gant's character or look like he is a partisan AG who won't investigate his friends. Marty is on the fast track to political star if PP doesn't taint him also.


    I get that you don't like PP but did you have a bad relationship with Gant while serving with him in the Senate? I do not know either personally but am intrigued about how your interactions were prior to him becoming SOS.

    Most politico's I've discussed the issue with think this is just you getting back at PP. (they are upset with Gant and PP also) Why should they believe otherwise? Clearly countless things have happened lately that we dislike coming from the SOS office but has anything illegal really been done that warrants an AG's investigation?

    (not trying to take sides in this because I am trying to get a good understanding of all parties involved.)

  32. Neal 2012.06.19

    I followed SDWC from its start. I read every post and comment Pat Powers wrote. A lot of it was ugly, some of it was downright despicable. But what struck me most was that it seemed to be authentic, a reflection of his identity as a person, and not just schtick to attract hits to his blog.

    That same person went to work for us at the SOS. The horror of that has yet to diminish.

    This is his comeuppance. And to the extent that a person would hire Pat Powers for a job in public service, and allow him to continue to run a variety of private enterprises, at least one of them political -- well, this is what Jason Gant deserves as well. The idea of an employee of the SOS privately advising clients who are running for political office ventures well beyond the appearance of impropriety. It is an abject conflict of interest and is completely unacceptable. Heads should roll.

    Senator Adelstein, as your constituent, I urge you to keep the pedal to the metal on this one. I'm making popcorn.

  33. Dave 2012.06.19

    I suddenly feel like Mitt Romney. I keep flip-flopping. I can't decide if Powers should be sacked ... or if Gant should be sacked. Perhaps both need to go.

  34. grudznick 2012.06.19

    Young Messrs. Powers and Gant have no taint to rub onto Mr. Jackley.

  35. Jana 2012.06.19

    "It's all fun and games until someone gets their eye poked out" is what my mother used to say when we played a little too fast and loose with safety. That seems to be where young Mr. Gant and his sidekick PP find themselves today.

    You have to wonder why Mr. Gant would make the drive to Rapid. It seems to say he recognizes that his actions have merited mending a few bridges and that he has possibly done something to bring discredit to the office of SOS. Certainly if he thought there was nothing inappropriate about the way he's run his office, he wouldn't have taken 6 hours of tax payer time out of his day to meet with a critic.

    I can see how the lure of power and being a player in the game could be addictive to someone who was in politics for the wrong reasons. Maybe young Mr. Gant is figuring out that politics is ultimately about governing and not a game of power. Hopefully that lesson is learned by some of the other young guns enamored with their political clout.

    I'm also hoping that Senator Adelstein will make sure that we can use the word integrity when talking about the office of our Secretary of State.

  36. Bill Fleming 2012.06.20

    Speaking of 'fun and games' Jana and Cory, don't you think it's long past time 'Bill Clay' of DWC reveals his identity?

    That whole website has now become attached to the perceived integrity and expected neutrality of the South Dakota Secretary of State's office.

    At a minimum, SD citizens need to know that BC is not PP or a PP puppet.

    And in order to be convincing, we'll need to know who Bill Clay is. No more wizard hiding behind the curtain. Let the sunshine in, boys.

    It's time. Past time.

  37. Troy 2012.06.20

    If before I was to accuse another human being (much less a Constitutional Officer similarly elected) of a serious charge directed at their character and integrity and the person came to give his side of the story, I would absolutely meet with them as I'd expect the same courtesy. I would do so in private if that is what the person (the accused or soon-to-be-accused) deserves nothing less.

    Calumny is making a charge contrary to the truth with harms another's reputation and destroys the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Stan had a perfect opportunity to be both just (give another his due) and charitable (give another more than his due) in pursuit of the truth by listening to Gant. If Stan was not satisfied with what he heard from Gant, he is fully free to pursue the investigation and could do so with internal knowledge he did so giving another human the opportunity to defend his integrity.

    Stan and Pat have had a public feud. Stan believes Pat to be an anti-Semite. This is personal and the failure to meet with Secretary Gant confirms it.

    Ironically, Congressmen Issa met yesterday with Justice Secretary Holder to try to resolve their differences before moving forward with a contempt citation against Holder. It was the decent and professional thing to do.

    Jana, if someone were about to accuse me of a serious malfeasance, I would promptly make an attempt to give my side, including driving across the state. If they were going to accuse and impugn a member of my staff I would have left yesterday and definitely do it in person.

    Without going to the merits of Stan's charge for which I have no knowledge one way or another, my criticism of Gant is he didn't stay in the office or on the sidewalk until Stan either met with him or left out the back door.

  38. Troy 2012.06.20

    "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." Former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis.

    My suspicion is Stan knows in his heart he should have talked to Jason. A phone call can still be made. While putting a genie back in the bottle is hard, it can be done if warranted. And if not, I think both parties might take the process alot less personal.

  39. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Public officials, public trust... public meetings, on the record.

    And yes, Bill, I agree: this whole fracas raises questions that demand the public identification of all bloggers writing for Dakota War College.

  40. Troy 2012.06.20


    You think the public interest would have been served if Issa had insisted that his meeting with Holder be in public? C'mon. That is crap. And you know it.

  41. Dougal 2012.06.20

    "What do you want to bet that Marty Jackley feels like he is in a pickle with this letter. Investigate like Adelsein wants over mostly personal issues that go to Gant’s character or look like he is a partisan AG who won’t investigate his friends. Marty is on the fast track to political star if PP doesn’t taint him also."

    Mike, I hear Marty's an athlete who works out each day. Really, can he handle a stroll up one flight of stairs and find out what's really going on in the Secretary of State's Office?

    Just one flight of stairs and - voila! - you're there, Marty.

  42. Rorschach 2012.06.20


    Your only criticism of Gant is that he didn't camp out in front of Stan's door till Stan met with him. Really? The guy shows up at 4:55 p.m. without an appointment and all you can find to criticize him for is not staying there when he wasn't welcome? What universe are you from?
    Your solution to mending fences is to catch somebody off guard and trespass until they agree to talk to you? You can do better than that if you apply yourself.

  43. Testor15 2012.06.20

    Troy, in case you missed it above, here it is again is why the senator should not have met with Gant. Information has been presented to the proper legal authorities on a potential criminal enterprise or enterprises. These operations posed potential conflicts to the solemn oath of allegiance to the laws of SD.
    There is a criminal matter opened before the SD AG which cannot easily rolled back.

  44. Neal 2012.06.20

    Moreover, don't let Troy play this red herring game and put the focus on Stan instead of the SOS. Should Stan have met with Gant? Maybe so, maybe not. Who cares -- it's not the issue. Something's rotten in the office of SOS. That's the issue.

  45. Bill Fleming 2012.06.20

    It's way past time to admonish these people about being "personal," Troy. Powers should have thought of that years ago before he started raking folks over the coals at SDDWC. His persecution of Adelstein in particular was unconscionable and relentless. Small wonder Stan doesn't trust him as far as he could throw him. Just sayin'.

  46. Troy 2012.06.20

    Pat and Stan don't like each other. Fine. I get that.

    I'm defending nobody and not really chastising anyone. There may be an impropriety from the SOS's office or an appearance of it. All I'm saying is there is if Stan is pursuing a personal vendetta using his public office that too is an impropriety and an appearance of it.

    In the end, it is just ugly. I like politics as a forum for debating issues but wish the personal aspects weren't part of it. I like Pat, even when his "youthful exuberence" gets the best of him. I like Stan, even when he sometimes is a bit of a curmudgeon.

    Regarding whether or not a legal matter was initiated, lawyers almost always encourage conversation to resolve it without the courts/lawyers, etc., at least in civil matters. If something occurred, I'm confident Jackley will get to the bottom of it. If not, the issue will go away legally but three reputations will have been harmed (Jason, Pat and Stan) and that will make me sad.

    One of the bad things about blogs is too much is said that wouldn't be said if the person was right in front of them. It becomes personal vs. about the issues. I am excusing nothing but know I've sometimes said things I wish I hadn't. As I said, I know Pat and Stan (barely have met Jason). Stan's son and I worked together one summer and he is straight as they come which he probably got from somewhere. I've had disagreements with both of them. But, either doing something unethical (outside of personal peccadillos we all have) would shock me.

  47. Testor15 2012.06.20

    "Regarding whether or not a legal matter was initiated, lawyers almost always encourage conversation to resolve it without the courts/lawyers, etc., at least in civil matters."
    Troy, violations of the criminal law are not a matter for normal civil court resolution. Stan was right in his refusal. Secondly, he did not start this discovery. Stan is only a secondary party to this SOS group of issues.

  48. Bill Fleming 2012.06.20

    Good response, Troy, thanks. I see what you are saying now.

  49. Dave 2012.06.20

    Maybe you should be prepared to be shocked, Troy. It appears you truly believe that everything that's gone on since Pat Powers and Jason Gant settled into the SOS office can simply be settled with a chat, cup of coffee, and handshake between Gant and Adelstein.
    This is about more than the horrendous treatment Powers has meted out toward Adelstein. It appears that all South Dakotans have reason to be seriously concerned about the conduct, or perhaps misconduct, of Powers and Gant and who knows who else in the SOS office. The reasons for that concern have been explained pretty thoroughly through news reports and frank blog discussions.
    In other words, it appears there is a strong possibility that Powers has mistreated us all through his malfeasance while working for us. And frankly, I'd like to know if that's true (I also contend that may be impossible to determine, given Powers proven ability and tendency to electronically hide all of his tracks).
    Adelstein has requested the investigation, but it's not about him. It's about Powers and Gant and the very strong possibility that some improper actions have been going on in "our" secretary of state's office for the past two years.

  50. mike 2012.06.20

    If more legislators come out and back Adelstein up that will be when things get messy. So far I haven't seen any takers. Right now it's a personal vendetta by Adelstein and dumb decisions by Gant. I doubt those are impeachable and Adelstein should be careful not to jump to conclusions.

    Does Begalka want to sign a letter to investigate any wrong doing? How about Stace? Hubbel? Russell? Olson? Steele?

  51. Tim Begalka 2012.06.20

    I would be glad to sign such a letter. (You know I'll sign about anything !) But also included in the investigation should be why the polling/calls done by the Daugaard campaign team for the benefit of primary candidates wasn't included in any pre-primary campaign reports. I've heard rumors that the polling was done in several races,not just the five he endorsed. And the results were shared with candidates,so it should be listed as an in-kind contribution. Both Tony V. and Sec. Gant claim it's not necessary, but if you look at the statutes it appears it should be. Gant says such questions of rules/laws should be turned over to the AG,but shouldn't our SOS be able to administer the laws that apply to his office? He was a legislator himself for 6 years ,for crying out loud !

  52. Mike 2012.06.20

    Looks like it is not just a personal vendetta anymore. :)

  53. Testor15 2012.06.20

    You are right Mike

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Senator Begalka, thank you for adding your perspective. Your comment and Dave's make clear that we aren't talking about a personal vendetta; we're talking about public trust and integrity in Pierre. Gant's attempted chat with Adelstein is emblematic of the endemic corruption in Pierre that some of us are worried about. Gant wanted to settle this matter of public concern with a private conversation, outside legal channels, away from public scrutiny. It's one thing if Troy and I hurt each other's feelings and we try to talk it out instead of suing each other. It's another for a legislator to suspect the Secretary of State's office of violating the public trust. This situation seems better served by a formal process, not a quiet conversation to sweep things under the rug.

  55. Redistricted 11 Rep 2012.06.20 Go to this website if you want to file your income taxes with the SD SOS...such a trustworthy organization...i so want then to have access to all my personal records as fodder for their mischief....

  56. Stan Adelstein 2012.06.20

    I wish that Ben Franklin could have seen these days of written confrontation, of the use of unfettered public discourse. My efforts started with something I read in a blog, in keeping with what I learned in the joy/pain of 10 sessions of legislative debate, caucus, insults and caring friendships.

    I am tempted to keep speaking on the SOS, or answering the questions like the one about the number of fellow legislators and legislative candidates that have written positively – and the total absence of negative e-mails from that group.

    I think, though, that I would do better in preparing to myself as a freely elected delegate to the Republican Convention, to nominate the next President of the United States; to continue my discussions of legislation that I will propose next year. Both arise out of the joy of election – for which people are begging at the cost of their lives!! – at this very moment that I sit in an air-conditioned office typing.

    The next steps are in the hands of a freely elected Attorney General. A man I know, a man who will disregard political considerations – much talked of above – because like his
    Father, is committed to the rule of law, fairly administered – as long as that special flag flies outside of his office.

    As my role in this ends, I cannot but take pleasure in the exercise. Appreciation for the thoughtful support of today’s “Ben’s” – and the challenging opposition as well. In fair honesty I am not downhearted to see a hateful, dishonest, bigoted blog closed.

    South Dakota is a nearly invisible dot on a World Globe and Kadoka merely dust – but to this minority believer, yet freely elected office holder --- this is where the majority truly lives by the words that George Washington wrote to the Turo Synagogue in August 233 years ago: “to bigotry no sanction, to prejudice no assistance!”

    Stan Adelstein

  57. PlanningStudent 2012.06.20

    Just got to point out to Redistricted 11 Rep that the link you provided goes to the Tax Division like you said but is NOT a part of the SD SOS it is a part of the Department of Revenue like it says in the top right corner... Come on there's appears to be plenty of good fodder around, and you just don't even know what you're talking about...

  58. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    (Stan: you guys are going to surrender and nominate Barack Obama? Wow, Sibby was right.... ;-) )

    The Senator's confidence in the Attorney General's impartiality encourages me. I hope AG Jackley will live up to that confidence and offer with due alacrity an honest and thorough account of what monkeyshines are going on in the Secretary of State's office.

  59. mike 2012.06.20

    If Begalka is willing to sign on then this is really bad. Also Tim isn't it funny how what goes around comes around?

    I know you don't opperate like that but it just goes to show how dumb that endorsement was especially since I'm assuming you have been a Gant supporter in the past.

    Clearly redistricted 11 rep is ticked at Gant for supporting Peters.

  60. Redistricted 11 Rep 2012.06.20

    Planning Student: You don't see how the Dept of Revenue must be linked up to the SOS? How does the Dept of Rev know how to tax a corporation, LLC, partnership of sole propriator? Its all too cozy. I never would have been worried about it until I saw where in 2007 SB Executive Department Bill wanted to inflict the Individual Mandate on all South Dakotans or possibly put them in jail....yeah....the same Individual mandate Jackley is fighting in the Supreme Court Challenge to ObamaCare. For an Individual mandate to happen the State Government needs to know ALL of your information so they know how much you can afford to shove out for "insurance"....a nice easy way to get a record of all your assets is to do your taxes for you...clever. This is interesting to watch...the shoe has fallen on Gant's antics and endorsements...wonder when the second shoe will fall?

  61. Tim Begalka 2012.06.20

    Redistricted: Sorry,but I think you're a little overboard on the tax thing. You mention "income taxes",but we have no income tax in SD. The site is for business taxes like sales and use tax, excise tax ,etc. mike: True,I've never had a beef with Gant nor Powers in the past. If a fellow Senator wants a co-signer because he thinks something is fishy,I'll sign, whether it has any direct connection to me or not.

  62. Redistricted 11 Rep 2012.06.21

    ok granted...maybe I'm looking for a boogy man that isn't there in the filing of taxes. ButI got the willies when I read some of the unattributed comments the Zaniya Task Force members had on how they would punish people who didn't buy as much Health insurance as the State deemed necessary. Comments like, "In essence, you will be data mining from a multitude of sources to try and determine the income and assets of every south Dakotan to determine their 'willingness and ability' to pay for health insurance..." and... "It's a little hard to imagine putting someone in jail because they don't have health insurance" ... and... "South Dakota must...file some sort of 'health care' [tax] return that the state will then use to group people into classes of healthcare consumers. Its hard to imagine the bureaucracy...". This is all on the State's website on the Zaniya Project that Lt Gov Daugaard was the chair of and where we had 2 women who led the initiative for Massachusett's RomneyCare (Cindy Gillespie and Peggy Hannish). This was when Rounds was Governor...and we all know that Rounds is currently working with Tom Daschle (who almost had HHS Sebelius' job had he not added up his taxes wrong)...they are co-chairs of the Bipartisan policy Center. What's their job? Advise Obama on the "HealthCare issues"...and you think Rounds doesn't want you to HAVE to buy one of his insurance products? Even the Employer of all Good Republicans, CEO of Sanford, Kelby Krabenhoft, said at the Promise Lab Conference last June...."No matter what your politics...we CANNOT repeal ObamaCare, or Sanford will have to go back to the drawing board." .......hmmmm... See why Im a little nervous when politicians say they dont want ObamaCare but work on initiatives that implement it?

  63. Jana 2012.06.21

    Wait...What??? The good Senator Adelstein has this in his post above:

    "In fair honesty I am not downhearted to see a hateful, dishonest, bigoted blog closed."

    The DWC is closed? I know that sometimes it's hard to tell if it's open...what with infrequent posting and a lackluster comment string, but closed?

    Troy, do you know anything about this?

  64. mike 2012.06.21

    I can't believe people were trying to lump Begalka into the same group as redistricted 11 rep. He is so reasonable.

  65. mike 2012.06.21

    11 rep: You do not have your facts straight. Governor Rounds does NOT want socialized medicine. He does not want OBAMACARE. Anyone who thinks he does is not only misunderstanding the facts they are flat out wrong.

  66. mike 2012.06.21

    Begalka has just thrown rocket fuel on the fire.

    Is Gant done? This looks like it might be the begining of the end. Even if the end is another two years away it's going to be a long two years for these guys to be hunkered down.

    Especially if Stan gets support from Begalka and Stan pushes ahead with an impeachment during 3 months of session.

  67. Bill Fleming 2012.06.21

    Okay... I see two comments of mine went frome being posted on the board into "moderation limbo" over at SDWC. They're pretty much trying to whistle past the graveyard over there, it seems. Here are the missing comments, once posted to the Nemec thread. Interesting? :

    Bill Fleming June 19, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation

    Bill Fleming June 19, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation

    Note: DWC is mentioned in this article. It’s also the URL where (until just recently) the ad for the campaign store was most highly visible. This story is now three days old. Any chance this blog is going to address it? Or are we just playing ‘ostrich ranch’ around here. (Where’s Jeff Barth, the ostrich whisperer when we need him? LOL)

  68. Troy Jones 2012.06.21

    Jana, DWC is open for business, as it has been since Pat signed off. Several people like me who have non-political jobs post when they are moved.

    And, I disagree with Stan's characterization of it being "hateful." Yes, there was an edginess to it but done in a way that provoked lively discussion from both sides. I think it allowed both liberals and conservatives to better understand the mindset of the other side as well as provide for some self-examination.

    I certainly don't have that skill to provoke that type of discussion. I am more moved to either talk about practical governing issues or examine a particular policy which is more open for differing opinions both within conservative ranks or attract non-conservatives. If there is unanimity among conservatives on one side and liberals on another, I usually don't discuss it. I'd rather discuss something that transcends ideology or provokes a re-shuffling.

    Pat also had a gift for raising an issue that had practical political implications. For instance, Pat would raise the issue of why was Noem here or why did Varilek say this? Mistake or part of strategy?

    Since I am here, I will direct my comments here. CH and most of the commentary presumes conservatives are sinister or stupid. Note CH's comment on HB1234 that the motive is to bash teachers or do intentional harm. Serious? This is conversation?

    Pat though actually presumed there was reason even in madness or stupidity in good intentions. He wanted to figure out which. Part of the reason Fleming and I get along despite our differences is he thinks we are neither sinister or stupid. Just wrong. He "used" DWC to learn about conservatives. And I think that is good as we aren't enemies.

    Frankly, I come here not to convince anyone. You are a pretty ideological bunch by and large. Much more uniform than the DWC group. I come here to learn and understand you. You are my neighbor (albeit a bit crazy :) ). And hopefully you learn a bit about me.

    And, maybe that is all blogs can and should be. A coffee shop.

    Long answer to your question Jana. And a bit off topic. In short DWC doesn't have a single leader or identity like it did when Pat was there or like here. On one hand, there could be strength in that if we had more postings. But it has a negative as Bill will agree "brand" is everything and no central leader makes that more difficult.

    PS. I do not know who Bill Clay is but have an idea. Not Pat. And not an insider. But someone whose employer (private) would not like them to be active this way. If I am right, knowing the person serves no purpose. If you post anonymously, you should respect the same privilege to this person you are given.

    Cory and Bill, you use your name so I respect your view but disagree with you. Heck, my wife wishes I would use a pen name. Sometimes being anonymous is just discretion.

  69. Tim Begalka 2012.06.21

    mike: Thanks for the compliment,but I have to disagree with you on Rounds. I think "11 Rep" has done us all a big favor with her research. If Rounds isn't for obamacare why did he facilitate and promote the Zaniya project,why is he now capitulating with Daschle and Obama? He wouldn't have gotten picked for those national boards if he wasn't a proponent. He is obviously deep into the insurance business,and just like AARP, has a lot to gain financially from this fiasco at our expense.

  70. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.21

    Far too many people live in far too much fear of using their real names. I reserve the right mercilessly mock or ignore anyone who speaks anonymously.

    Rep. Hubbel, your bogeyman distraction here explains in part why the voters are sending you home from Pierre but sending Senator Adelstein back to Pierre. Senator Adelstein sees specific instances of corruption that warrant investigation. He understands how to focus that discussion on the immediately relevant issues. You then enter and try to turn the discussion to your Sibbyesque conspiracy theory linking ObamaCare and the Zaniya Project. Citizens of diverse political stripes can look at Adelstein's charges and say, "Yeah, I can see where he's coming from." Most citizens outside the Howie-Hubbel echo chamber look at your Zaniya-ObamaCare talk and say, "What is she talking about, and what does it have to do with the issue at hand?"

  71. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.21

    But dang, then Tim sinks my electoral thesis by leading us down that same rabbit hole. Grrr!

  72. LK 2012.06.21


    Just a few points. First on echo chambers: I don't recall reading DWC during the Powers era, so I can't comment on whether the comments then were more inclusive or the posts were efforts to "understand."

    South Dakota is not split politically 50/50 or even 60/40. Conservatives dominate; liberals have at best a 20% base. A discussion between 8 people is going going to seem more robust and diverse than a conversation between 2 people.

    On HB 1234, your comments indicate that you trust school administrators to be fair or competent. I've worked for more than a dozen superintendents/principals. I consider fewer that 1/3 to be both fair and competent. In short, I view this legislation as an existential threat to my livelihood and my family's well being. Given that Republican governors across the nation are pushing similar legislation, I have trouble believing that this is not a political effort to squelch a political opponent, a view you consider specious. I, like nearly everyone else, take threats to my livelihood seriously and get a bit angry if that threat is merely an effort to score political points.

    I'm not sure what the purpose of blogs is. I do think that thinking out loud is part of it.

    Finally, you may be stopping by as an anthropologist, but you do have some missionary zeal as well.

  73. mhs 2012.06.21

    Troy, you gotta give it up for Corey, though. Nobody pivots to his issue better. "The Secretary of State beats puppies . . . because of 1234!".

    Almost as good as Bush's "evil doer's" letting him bumble through years 2-6.

  74. mike 2012.06.21

    Never mind. It is a waste of my time.

    Tim Begalka you are still a class act. Hubbel, The only conspiracy you preach I agree with is the one about the legislature diliberately redistricting you. - I wonder why they did that? And then a record low number of voters turned out to vote in your new district. Do you now think that Gant supressed the vote or threw out hundreds of votes?

    My hunch is people just don't have a clue about what you are talking about. - like me. I've never heard of Rounds wanting socialized medicine.

  75. Bill Fleming 2012.06.21

    LK, Troy is neither anthropologist nor missionary IMHO. Rather, he's an ambassador in a foreign land. (I know the feeling. I was one of the first Dems ever to venture into the once radical-right strongholds of Mt. Blogmore and SDWC. I don't think I ever "converted" andyone, but hopefully, I helped make them somewhat safer planets for our species.) Nanu Nanu, y'all.

  76. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.21

    Whoa, MHS: I make no such pivot to 1234 on Gant. Gant and HB 1234 both emblemize the problems of one-party rule by fiat, but they are separate issues. (Of course, Secretary Gant really ought to be checking signatures on those 1234 petitions, not driving around asking for private meetings with legislators who want to investigate him.)

  77. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.21

    Indeed, some others on this thread have mentioned 1234, but unlike Secretary Gant's employee's blog, I do not fill my comment section with pseudonymous sock puppets.

  78. Troy 2012.06.21


    A few comments:

    1) Yes, I'm an advocate. I didn't mean to imply that. But, I also like discussion between advocates. Frankly, I'd rather hear a dissenting voice argued with both passion, facts, and logic than an echo to myself. I do get frustrated when the argument is mostly centered on ad hominem.

    2) I also didn't mean to imply that the DWC didn't have a perspective. It did. But, the issue raised had a knack to invite debate both between liberals/conservatives and within the Republican realm. Pat was a thorn in Republicans as much as Democrats.

    3) Good point. MT seems to have mostly commentary among the 20% whereas DWC seems to have commentary among a larger spectrum both generally and under the GOP banner.

    4) You might be right about the quantity of quality administrators. While you consider this a threat to your livlihood, I see it as an opportunity for improvement. I've been disappointed in the reaction of administrators to HB1234. Managers should welcome tools to be better manage, enhance accountability, etc. Administrators who buckle and can't handle this new tool will be exposed and should be replaced. Life at the top is tough and lonely. And, you our teachers and students deserve better.

    5) Personally, probably similar to your visceral reaction on the other side, I resent the idea this is about political points. I have a daughter who aspires to be a teacher, am the son of a teacher, and most importantly have grandchildren who spend more time with their teacher than they do with me. Whether the current situation is good or wanting, I want better and believe this will be a stimulant to improvement.

    6) The Governor's plan is an infusion of $15mm into teacher salaries (4% of total salaries) to the top performers. As much as you may prefer it be equally doled out to top performers and sub-par performers, teachers represent about 2% of the workforce. In South Dakota 85% (percent of private sector jobs in South Dakota) of all full-time employees operate under some form of pay for performance. Food for thought: When people hear complaints about pay disparity, the preponderance is from those who are not performing. I'm not saying you are one of the sub-par performers but you might want to consider how your opposition to this plan might be percieved.

    I've told this story of when four couples were together and the one teacher among us ranted about the Governor's plan. When the teacher finished, everyone was silent (even the spouse). And, it was clear the silence was: "We disagree." I've no idea if the Governor's plan will be upheld but I can assure you, in certain circles, the arguments against the Governor's plan is confirming to some of its wisdom.

  79. mhs 2012.06.21

    An emblematic illustration only, Corey. I started with "the world is ending", but liked the puppy beating analogy, since mine had her face on my keyboard at the time. Pivoting to your issue is controlling the debate and advocating your position. Time honored and effective, no cheap shot intended

  80. mhs 2012.06.21

    , and, as Troy knows, I've been livid about the Bushies and their wreckage of the GOP for the last 25 years.

  81. LK 2012.06.21


    We're radically off the topic of the original post, just a couple of quick points.

    I've found that when both parties to a conversation describe reactions to a subject as visceral, it's best to agree to disagree and find another subject. That flood in Duluth was something wasn't it?

    Second, your anecdote about the rant serves as an important reminder that tone and timing are as important as substance to political discourse. Blogs have looser requirements for decorum than a dinner party, but even here respectful dialogue of the kind you provide is still important

  82. Jim 2012.06.21

    Troy, in a previous post you referenced Powers ability to create and drive threads when you wrote: "For instance, Pat would raise the issue of why was Noem here or why did Varilek say this? Mistake or part of strategy?"

    Varilek is relatively new on the scene as a blog figure, and your comment implies PP continues to have a hand in the Snore College items well after accepting the SOS job and taking an oath to be impartial. Tell us it isn't so. Did people really think PP was going to fully orphan the little blog baby he fed and nutured and watched grow, and so loved? No, they didn't. And Gant was foolish to think this wouldn't eventually blow up in his face.

  83. Stan Adelstein 2012.06.21

    Let me suggest a new blog on the subject of the dishonest representation of HB 1234, the squelching of amendments to do what the publicity says ARE done, and Rauch's earning endorsement by strong arming a one vote margin to pass the bill through the House. Then I can come back and share some thinking with you. NOTHING to do with SOS - NOTHING!

    Then Senator Tim, who had the independence, guts - as did twelve other Senators to support the Amendments, and when they failed vote against a bill which is really, really bad - and I am sure will be killed by the voters in November.


  84. Jana 2012.06.21

    Senator Adelstein...tell us more! I do like the idea.

  85. larry kurtz 2012.06.21

    I confess to experiencing bliss: who says atheists can't have the Promised Land?

  86. Lori Stacey 2012.06.24

    Great article Cory. Glad to hear this is finally hitting the fan. During my campaign against Gant, a member of my staff had contacted the former SOS office with clear evidence that I had discovered that Gant had taken over Powers sign business website stating that proceeds from the business would be like donating to his campaign for SOS. A clear problem with campaign finance law.

    I had planned on exposing him but quite frankly the folks in Pierre did not seem to think there was anything wrong with what he was doing and decided it would most likely only backfire on my own campaign. When after he won the election and Gant appointed Powers to his office, it was certainly no shock to me. This latest news is basically just the reverse of their long co-mingling of political/business which is completely inappropriate in public office just as much as it was while helping him with his campaign.

    He needs to be impeached! Will be writing an article and hoping to find the permalinks of the evidence I once had during his original run for office.

    I would be happy to cooperate with the Senator's office if he needs my information.

    Lori Stacey

  87. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.25

    Thank you, Lori. I have forwarded your e-mail address to Senator Adelstein. If you have documentable proof of Gant's connection with the Powers sign business website, I'd love to see it.

  88. Lori Stacey 2012.06.25

    Cory, There are 3 of us at my request at the time that all saved screen shots of the bold message by Gant on that website. Problem is that all of us are no longer using those particular computers so we are trying to retrieve it off our old hard drives which is a chore right now. If you or anyone you know is good at finding old permalinks, I have the information to tell them exactly what page,etc it was on to hopefully find it. Please let me know. Regardless, if it is found or not, there is at least 4 witnesses that saw the same thing and 1 was in the former SOS office. Working on retrieving the hard evidence that we had but if not we still have credibility in knowing what we clearly saw.


  89. Testor15 2012.06.25

    Lori & Cory there are many many ways to pull data, even if deleted off old hard drives. Be careful with those drives. DO NOT boot the computer using those drives or you risk harming the data.
    Contact me pm Cory.

  90. Jana 2012.06.25

    Oh heck...maybe we don't have to have tech gurus find what our honorable and trusted SoS posted. I'm sure that someone of honor, like Jason, will provide that information.

    Heck, I bet that both Jason Gant and Pat Powers would provide the contents of the deleted old South Dakota War College site just to prove that they have nothing to hide. I mean after all, they do work for us...right Pat and Jason?

    And should we expect anything less from our trusted state employees?

    Oh wait...I should ask them shouldn't I?

    Jason and Pat, will you please provide all of your past online content associated with the politics and governing of South Dakota?

    I mean, in the spirit of showing the public that they can trust the Secretary of State's office to be fair and impartial...isn't that the least we should expect?

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