Last updated on 2013.09.01
The Jason Gant scandal has grown to the point where the embattled Secretary of State has to tell that Sioux Falls paper that allegations of incompetence and corruption against him are "false and untrue" (memo to the Secretary of State: false and untrue mean the same thing). I find three new elements to the story worth mentioning this morning:
1. The investigation is real. Senator Adelstein told the Rapid City Journal and reiterated here that Department of Criminal Investigations chief Bryan Gortmaker traveled to Adelstein's Rapid City office for an hour-long interview Monday. "This was the director," observes Adelstein, "not a freshman investigator doing what is needed for show. We discussed the scope of the investigation, and it is thorough and REAL."
2. The Gosch-Gant notary scandal may go to court. Rapid City wingnut Ed Randazzo says a movement is afoot to challenge Rep. Brian Gosch's nominating petitions in court. Recall that Rep. Gosch notarized his own petitions, a clear violation of South Dakota notary law. Recall also that Secretary Gant let Gosch sway his staff to accept those improperly notarized petitions, in violation of past Secretary of State's office practice. Randazzo makes me nervous when he turns the purported legal movement into a fundraising pitch for Gordon Howie's fake blogroll, but he insists the pending legal action is legit.
3. Perception matters. I visited with a treasurer for a Democratic legislative candidate earlier this week. He said he was going to start entering his candidate's campaign contributions (a Democrat getting money! Whoo-hoo!) in the Secretary of State's new online campaign finance database. I haven't dug into the system, but the treasurer suggests one can enter contributions as they come in and save the data online for the finance reports. The pre-general report is due October 26.
But another candidate urged my correspondent not to do it. The moment you enter that data, said the candidate, that information goes right from Secretary Gant to your Republican opponent.
Now I can't tell if such alarm is warranted. But I don't recall hearing fellow Dems express such a lack of confidence in the previous Secretary of State. Whatever the reality, Secretary Gant's arrogant and unbridled partisanship are fueling the perception that we can't trust the Secretary of State's office with our data or our elections. In the Secretary of State's office perhaps more than any other office in the Capitol, perception matters.
Former SDGOP chief Joel Rosenthal responds to Secretary Gant's participation in the Rick Santorum and Val Rausch campaigns with this explanation of the unique sanctity of the office:
In the secretary of state's office, you can't take sides.... It's a ministerial function, and the law's the law. You've got to follow it [Joel Rosenthal, in David Montgomery, "Pressure Builds, But Gant Won't Go," that Sioux Falls paper, 2012.07.10].
A governor or a legislator can do all sorts of stupid, partisan things and still not warrant calls for resignation. But the Secretary of State is a different beast. Jason Gant holds a position of public trust that requires the perception and practice of impeccable fairness and integrity. Jason Gant's errors are pecking that public trust to death.
With less than four months before a big election, Jason Gant needs to act quickly to restore that trust. The quickest act would be his resignation.
The Gosch notary issue is the biggest problem for Gant in my opinion. That is the biggest and most compelling evidence that his office has one standard for Dems and another for Reps. What bothers me isn't that he has a different policy than Chris Nelson it's the fact that he has different standards for one person or another. Depending on party.
Right on, Mike. Gosch's ability to argue his case in the SOS's office, overcome a staffers objection, and avoid the legal fight Dems Johnson and Mitchell had to wage to get on the ballot speaks volumes.
The idea that the Democratic party is not going after the Gosch notary double standard is appalling to me. Gosch could be the next speaker of the House and he shouldn't even be on the ballot.
Gosch by his own admission (RCJ article) argued that he could notarize his own petitions in the SOS office and they said ok. The Dem had a problem with that and Gant said take it to court.
Where is the Democratic Party on this issue?
â€œMy responsibility is to make sure that everyone is treated fairly,â€ Gant said.
Then why have one standard for Dems and another for Republicans?
The Democratic Party should have an actual public position on this problem. The position should have an education aspect to it, not partisan. An education position stressing the basic rules of conduct for the office and it's employees. There are subtle ways to say it and keep saying it. Drive the point home. Don't be hiding in a corner.
Do not distract with personal attacks. Keep talking points out there to remind people of the seriousness of the problem. We have thousands of South Dakota voters be driven from the the polling place with the new rules Nelson, Gant and PP were putting in place. What are the Dems doing about it?
Chris Nelson was not saint. I wish people would quit putting him out there as some kind of non-partisan saint. He was not. He worked all the same angles while looking clean. Just ask our native American citizens what he did and did not do to help them vote.
Implementation of ALEC inspired RealID laws are going to keep thousands of citizens from voting. Limiting access to polling places will keep thousands from voting. I do not trust anyone currently in Pierre to keep our elections free and open. How can elections be free and open if the polling places are not convenient or citizens will need to spend $150.00 to $200.00 to get their 'official' records cleaned up to a point the state will accept them for use. I know this for a fact because I have been assisting people get their IDs.
All I can say, we have not had a decent, honest or proper SOS for many years. Quit saying Nelson was something to be proud of. He broke the way for the Gant mess we now have.
I'm just surprised that Frerichs, Hundstad, Fargen or Hunhoff don't come out with a statement on this.
Nesselhuf might not want to because he ran against Gant and is worried it will look like a sore loser but the media has already made it clear this story had legs without Nesselhuf.
Someone needs to take the Gosch issue to court. It's the one charge that could really undo Gant.
By staying quiet dems are letting seem OK.
T15: if Penn State can hide decades of decadence you'd think a Janklow era could, too.
Pierre is going to "slow walk" this one until after the elections in November. That gives plenty of time for Gant et. al. to recreate his history in office and if need be, call Powers back in to show them how to delete the parts they don't like.
I certainly hope Stan keeps the pressure on getting answers.
Stan, has anybody from the Governor's office or other political offices outside of the AG contacted you about these matters to try and get you to back off?
For some of us, the online campaign finance reporting system just would not work. When the SOS office sent out the notice for the 2011 reports, it emphasized the online system and neglected to explain that, if for some reason a treasurer could not use a computer-networked system, a paper version was available.
I tried to use the online system a number of times, but it would not accept the data I entered. I had to e-mail the SOS office to inquire if they could correct the problem that rejected the data or offer an alternative way to submit the report. I received a reply that I could submit a paper version, which I did.
However, in attempting to use the online system, some peculiarities about it became apparent. It was clearly designed to make it easy to track who makes donations. For county parties, most of the money comes from fund-raising events that generate modest donations from many people. Such donations are not recorded for individual donors unless they exceed $100. In that case, the reports require that they be identified and the total amount they donate listed. The paper form has separate spaces for recording the various sources of donations: campaign events, fund drives, and donations over $100. The online version did not contain a clear provision for entering fund-raising events, such as picnics, raffles, parties, rallies, etc.
It was clear that the online report was designed primarily to track who the big contributors are, and the way the program was laid out reflected PP's strategies on the War College blog. To some of us, it looked m like he was much more interested in getting information on political targets rather than providing a clear, efficient, fast, and transparent reporting format. There was never a problem with promptness with the old system, because the reports were generally recorded online the day after the SOS received them.
The features of the online system were consistent with the conversion of the SOS office into a politburo.
Oh, and if anyone is wondering about the value of investigative media making a difference, the Boston Globe gives us an example of why media is so important in our political process.
This could be bad for Mitt...
"Asked whether Romney would be guilty of a federal felony if he had taken part in management decisions or had an active role at Bain after February 1999, Jackson replied:
He would certainly be open to a federal charge for violation of 18 USC 1001.
But it would be up to a prosecutor to decide whether to press charges, and then up to a judge or jury to decide guilt.
It's a fact that people have gone to prison for violating that law. Our point is that the legal equivalent of a sworn statement carries some weight as evidence â€” more than a campaign press release, for example."
So chin up Mr. Gant...you're not the only Republican feeling a little heat.
The public must be educated and informed as to why this problem is important. The ability of partisans mining SOS data for personal or political reasons must be investigated as the crime it is.
Voter suppression, personal data mining, and many of Gant & Co. activities are crimes in most states. If someone can document these activities firsthand, it must be reported immediately to the AG office. In the meantime, the Dems must educate the public so the activities are known.
Due respect to Joel, who's certainly earned it, but, Joyce Hazeltine, Alice Kundert and Lorna Herseth, just to name are few, were all ferociously partisan footsoldiers in their parties.
AG's office can only investigate criminal not moral wrongdoing: cute little Marty on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio.
OK, 1 more time. The appeal for financial aid for the Gosch mess is NOT a fundraising ploy for Life & Liberty in any way. Life & Liberty will not collect or hold or handle the funds any way.
If anyone wants to contribute to this effort, call me or email me and I will provide the info to send your contribution to the proper parties. I am assured that all funds will be collected for this effort only. I have sent in my $100.......where's yours?
Gosch ignores the law like he's above it and Gant looks the other way.....wrong, wrong, wrong. Too much "good old boy" network here!!! Both these guys should be sacked. We should not stand by and let this go just because it's messy......it's wrong.
Here's your chance to show that your protestations about the Republicans is not just talk......contribute to what's right.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
gawd: ed plays the white-stupid-on-purpose card.
Moral wrongdoing is a ground for impeachment. Just ask Bill Clinton.
No, Larry, I'll take Ed at his word on this one. If this fundraising pitch helps launch a real legal challenge, I will be thrilled and sing hosannas to those who have the guts and pockets to push the issue.
That said, I would encourage the fundraising to take the form of a pledge drive. Get people on the record saying, "Yup, I'll give money once the papers are filed." Once we see the legal attack is real—i.e., once the suit against Gant/Gosch is filed and publicized, folks start signing checks. Gant and Gosch need to be held accountable; that's all the more reason to make sure those challenging their authority are held accountable.
"Due respect to Joel, whoâ€™s certainly earned it, but, Joyce Hazeltine, Alice Kundert and Lorna Herseth, just to name are few, were all ferociously partisan footsoldiers in their parties."
I have known and respected each of these women. Yes they were partisans in a partisan world but they respected the office and the job they were elected to do. I spent hours planning strategies with each, campaigned with each, but when we were in the SOS office, each had a reverence and respect to not violate it.
I do not see this reverence or respect in the our current or just past SOS.
it will be a cold day in pukwana when i climb into bed with those hosers, CAH: let them eat angel food.
And lets not stop at this issue. We need to look at how the money is being spent in the name of economic development in this state and who really benefits. Then use that as basis for ads saying vote no on RL14.
larry: the embodiment of the tolerant left.
That danged 'R' after your names comes off my tongue like vomitus after drinking sour milk spiced with dead cat.
T15, voter repression I believe goes much further than the SOS office with responsibility all the way down to the local level.
Didn't Nelson sue roger hunt over camp fund issues taking significant heat from his own party for a significant period of time.
Larry, even hosers get some things right. If Randazzo, Howie, et al. can bring forwad a legal challenge to Gosch's violation of state law and Gant's dereliction of duty, then they will deserve our support.
Recall Ellis' oft-told scorpion and frog story, Cory: I say we buy 'em guns now and let 'em off themselves.
There is plenty of momentum without those Arachnida waiting to take credit: I'd rather arm you with the resources to run this thing down.
Voter repression, citizen rights suppression, secret slush funds, secret organizations funneling funds from 'friends' to governors and secret state contracts are all part of the 34 year entrenched power base in action.
Everyone must remember the factions of the GOP, the insiders and outsiders. If you are an outsider trying to crack the the egg of power, you become the the only thing in the frying pan. Your bacon gets fried while they protect their investments.
Just remember the Citibank unclaimed cash, your Roger Hunt mess, the Governors 'secret' slush fund, the administration of state trust funds by selected attorneys and companies and more. These are to be protected at all costs. Gant and PP have opened a small crack into these abuses of power and position. The SOS must be quietly put to bed before it is examined to much. Gant and PP are not liked by the insiders but were tolerated to win the position. I am sure there must have been plans afoot to move them aside when the time was right. These two are outsiders used like the fools they are, to accomplish the larger goals of the insiders.
If this is not handled 'correctly' by Dusty, DD and Jackley, it could bring the Janklow / Mickleson / Rounds inspired house of cards down before DD gets his share. The corruption / cronyism runs deep to keep the wrong people out of the circle of power.
Remember what deep throat said, "Follow the Money..."
"If Randazzo, Howie, et al. can bring forwad a legal challenge to Goschâ€™s violation of state law and Gantâ€™s dereliction of duty, then they will deserve our support."
An enemy of my enemy is my friend... For now...
Speaking of the Governors Club, Lee Schoenbeck has been eerily quiet on this matter, doncha think?
Listen to Judge Freeh's thoughts on his investigation with an ear to the organization's cultural climate, its unaccountability, and ultimate rot.
Restated earlier by Napoleon, the moral is to the physical as three is to one. Rephrased: the moral is to the criminal as three is to one. This rational makes explicit sense because the foundation of our criminal law is the mental state to create, allow, or acquiesce to crime. Here there is an argument that the governor's and AG's offices likely acquiesced too long to apparent wrong-doing in the SOS office - likely protecting the powerful, one-party brotherhood, as opposed to the sacred trust and stewardship of the law and the electorate - the likely victims.
Here's to hoping the AG's office's investigation is a beginning to re-establish the rule of law.
"The corruption / cronyism runs deep to keep the wrong people out of the circle of power."
Don't foget about the National Education Association giving the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce $1 million to protect the system in 2008.
After years as an accountant practicing in South Dakota, Steve, you must have overwhelming evidence of what you speak: which clients would you like to expose first?
Troy decoyed comment onto the Biden post: anyone else notice that most of the players in the Gant/PP scandal are Catholic and Sen. Adelstein is not?
T15, BJ closed the books(transparency) on an honest state treasurer who was attempting to do the right thing on unclaimed funds, not just the big banks either.
A state treasurers office with counter checks on the unclaimed fund.
A past school and lands commision brought back to properly funding schools by George D Kane who received threats on his life for his performance.
It goes on. Of course this is all hearsay, but there will be another egg or two sizzling here shortly, hope it's not you Testor for being so mouthy.
This is a very different thread on the subject and a very sad one. To hear so many truly committed citizens convinced that Pierre is run by crony's, connivers, crooks, bigots and thieves troubles me.
In my ten years in Pierre, there was only one Senate term -Schoenbeck President Pro tem, Bogue Majority Leader -- that I witnessed what many of you think is pervasive.
As a Jewish person and spokesman, I ran in 11 elections primary or general. I lost only one. True, the Pres protem of my party, and caucus campaigned door to door, 300 miles from his home with my opponent, in an openly antisemitic campaign. She lost the General in my district, which has a huge Republican plurality.
True, there is a high percentage of Roman Catholics in SD Government -- but that choice is guaranteed by our sacred Constitution.
Let me illustrate a point:
Schoenbeck and Bogue set a special session for the day of Yom Kippur - the most important holiday of the Jewish Year. My arguments, referring to nearly two hundred years of precedent, in these United States, fell on deaf ears. "You are the only one, everything has been printed, and CANNOT be changed, we have enough votes without you" I was told.
I called our ROMAN CATHOLIC Governor - Mike Rounds - and barely got through my first sentence when he stopped me with "that's terrible, the date will be changed!" and it was.
Brian Gosch did not, I repeat did NOT notarize his own signature. He submitted his petitions in person in January. He noticed that the signatures of the some of the circulators, all of whom he knew and received them from, were not notarized. He asked if it was all right - to turn notarize THOSE signatures, if not he said "I have two months to recirculate."
He was playing no politics - maybe Gant was - but that was NOT the intent, or even expectation by Brian. So let's get off this idea of some association between a capable and conscientious Legislator.
For Jana, No one has asked me to back off -- many fellow legislators, previous legislators and other Republican activists have urged me to keep after the (SOBs) some said. Telephone calls and e-mails. Nothing from the Governors office, one way or the other.
And Mr Kurtz -- Attny General Jackley is absolutely correct. He can only determine if there was criminal wrong doing - the moral wrongdoing is ABSOLUTELY not his prerogative. I, for one, would have it no other way.
You see, Mr Kurtz, at 81 I have lived through the ages of Hitler and Stalin and have known how "lawmen" (Gestapo and KGB) jail and murder people just like me - just like me -for "moral wrongdoing".
Please understand that when I am free to speak, as I am doing here; to be elected as I have been repeatedly; can call my State's chief "lawman" without fear as you all know ---- I want him to do EXACTLY as he is doing!!!
Stan Adelstein, State Senator and Senator elect Dist 32
John: silence, protecting the powerful... that's a good connection between Paterno an South Dakota government.
Senator Adelstein, as I said above, perception matters. When people think Pierre plays games, whether it's true or not, Pierre has a trust problem. If such concerns are mere perception, Pierre still needs to operate in a more open fashion to dispel those myths of corruption.
As for Gosch: He notarized a document that bears his signature (not as circulator, but as candidate). Statute and practice of past SOS say notaries can't do that. Gant's office gave Gosch a break in an informal chat that other candidates had to get in court.
Talk to us about the Knights of Columbus, Sibby.
Sen Stan, thanks for your focusing experience and words. It is welcome to read a learned perspective that things likely are not as sour in Pierre as perceptions would lead one to believe. I'm all for Ike-like republicans but thought we had far fewer than your experience attests. I'll take a deeper breath.
I now, for the first time I understand what are thinking, friend Caheidelberger, and why some others are upset.
There are two separate and distinct Notary signatures on each petition. Tomorrow I will try to scan one - if I can find it, but for sure on Monday.
The first Notarization is of the Candidate, where he states party, the office is running for and (I think) some other things. That MUST NOT be notarized by himself. This portion was NOT notarized by Rep Gosch, but by some other notary!
The second is where the person who went out and had people sign the position says the he personally circulated such petition, and knew that each individual really signed it. That notarization is of a third partly, NOT the candidate him/her self.
If Rep Gosch had seen this third party sign, then all he is notarizing is that person's signature - not his own.
This is surely not Notarizing the entire petition on his behalf.
I hope that I have made that more clear--hope, hope, hope
Stan, At what point do you think some other legislators will come out and publicly support your efforts?
Even legislative candidates would be helpful. It would go a long way in giving you stronger footing to have 5 or 6 legislators at least say they are willing to support an investigation of sorts.
The Gosch notary issue is the biggest problem for Gant from here on out. He needs to explain why he allows one standard for Gosch and another for a Dem.
I wonder if Gosch ever donated to Gant???
And where are the Dems?
I didn't realize Herseth's grandmother was SOS at one point. She really does have a family history in SD politics.
I've seen, signed, and circulated nominating petitions, Stan. I know which line has which signatures. Gosch still must contend with SDCL 18-1-12.2: "It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person to affix a signature to a document as a notary public when the person has also signed the document as a party to the transaction proceeding." The governing statute doesn't refer to laying one's notary seal over one's own signature; it refers to the entire document. There remains a strong case to be made in court against Gosch's use of his seal on his own petitions.
The question of notarizing them later and not in immediate witness of the circulator's signature is a minor and separate impropriety.
With all due respect to everyone reading these threads, there has developed so many gray areas of election law interpretation. It is sad we have to worry about so many tricks being used to skirt what would seem like straight forward rules. So many people who say they believe the 10 Commandments are the ones looking for every loopholes to cheat with.
We can look at these loopholes as a court proceeding would by establishing the historical and then the practical. We are supposed to have a Secretary of State who knows the rules and fairly enforce them. Often when cheaters become managers of an organization, the first thing they will do is replace the staff, so they become the unquestioned authority of the office. Their interpretation becomes the rule because the new staff has no tenured experience to protest.
The computerization of the office has too many holes in the design and implementation. Just computerizing something does not make it better. As a system analyst / programmer of 3 decades, I have had to clean up many messes left by cheaters and disorganized thinking. The complaints I have heard here and on the street, lead me to believe the code running the office may have other undocumented purposes.
As a person who has helped set up businesses, we expect the SOS office to know the rules and fairly enforce them.
The Secretary of State for South Dakota is the keeper of the State Constitution. If the SOS cannot honestly and fairly perform the functions of the office for all the people, this person does not deserve to honor of being in the office. There are real laws the SOS office has violated, these could be criminal. There is also the violation of public trust which is an impeachable 'political' offense to be considered.
OK, Testor15 - I believe what you say about "other undocumented purposes," only because of the person(s) who set them up. How can these be ferreted out? What if the investigation finds no "provable criminal activity," what would you recommend that we do to protect ourselves?
Oh yes, on what "street have you heard..."?
Did the leaving person, actually depart the office yet? How are we sure? Has the person returned to the office to retrieve anything 'forgotten'?
The departing personnel is famous for deleting data. Did anyone verify this has not happened. If the data has been deleted or altered it would be a felony destruction of data on a state owned computer to thwart an investigation. Did the departing person's computer get secured by DCI? Is there a full backup of the person's work PC in the State's archives?
There are some other options to search but I would never discuss these options publicly. In the work performed in the past, 'time bombs' have been found where code has been written to erase itself after a job is done. I have read about these being used in the past to erase ballot tabulating code loops once the changes have been made. Hackers around the world use forms of this to steal data.
Senator, I have sent you a private message to your email account.
"What if the investigation finds no â€œprovable criminal activity,â€ what would you recommend that we do to protect ourselves?"
Senator, the recommendations will be many. This is not just legal issues but entails moral components. To implement the changes necessary to ensure free and fair elections, to put trust back into the electoral process will take the kind of strength you have shown on this problem. We would be fighting ALEC and the majority of the state legislature to correct the problems.
This is not a right versus left issue, it is a fight for what is right for the owners of this country the citizens. Here are a few ideas to start with:
1. There is no reason for machines of any sort to control the election process. You and I both voted before any machine was used to count the ballots or verify who could vote. Return to the paper ballot and manual counting done in public, at the precinct level with the tabulation of results at the courthouse before issuing results to public and SOS.
2. We need to study the North Dakota voting process to implement open voting here.
3. No centrally controlled voter rolls operated out of the SOS office. The SOS office may have access to the county auditor data but they would not have control of it.
4. No Central Polling stations to save money, neighborhood polling stations as we have used in South Dakota since statehood. The one area of government where saving money is the last consideration is when it comes to allowing the citizen owners of the government to hire their employees through the ballot box.
5. Does the SOS have any training necessary for taking on the job? I know this is an academic and political question which should have been answered in a campaign. What I am asking is the technical and legal requirements necessary for understanding the job.
6. Security of SOS corporate databases, no politicians should be able to have access or track the legal activities for personal use. There have been rumors to this possible activity.
7. The campaign contributors database should be made open to the public and the candidates must enter the contributions within a limited number of hours after deposit into bank. This data cannot be gleaned or cleaned before release by SOS staff before release to public. Why have a deadline of days before an election when all candidates for office are using computers of some sort everyday now (if they aren't, why?).
8. Verifying legitimate petition signatures is too open to misinterpretation. An Excel spreadsheet process of what? Handwritten names on sheets of paper transcribed or copied somehow? My experience makes me read problems with this logic. Is this done in private or public? With so much at stack in the right to vote, the referendum and initiative processes this cannot be judged by partisans with 'skin' in the game.
9. Before I forget it, the Notary Seal discussion and the lacks way it is handled is atrocious. The comments left on the web since the story broke letting us who care know how little the public thinks of the system of basing honor with your signature. Even our candidates for office do not understand the responsibilities and penalties of using the seal. When the candidates and SOS do not uphold the Notary Laws and Rules what good are our contracts? The SOS office is honor and trust or at least it was under Alma Larson, Alice Kundert, Lorna Herseth and Joyce Hazeltine.
Senator, these are just a few of the items I would recommend you consider to return our system to legitimacy and honor. There are more I could give and given a chance, more will be suggested. I can and will give you national websites devoted to your questions if you desire.
By the way, please let me know if you have received my messages to to your private email address.
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