Senator Stanford Adelstein (R-32/Rapid City) really wants to give Secretary of State Jason Gant the heave-ho. Senator Adelstein called for the investigation and impeachment of our bumbling elections chief this summer. Attorney General Marty Jackley kept that investigation of his fellow Republican Capitol denizen narrow and made sure it went nowhere.
Now Senator Adelstein skips the middleman and calls on Secretary Gant to spare us all his further errors and resign. In his press release, the Senator says the Secretary has broken the law by publishing incomplete ballot question explanations. He also alleges that the Secretary has hired an expensive elections consultant without budgetary authority from the Legislature.
Senator Adelstein's press release is brutal:
Senator Stan Adelstein has called, once again, for the resignation of Secretary of State Jason Gant. The Secretary has violated SDCL 12-13-23 which requires that the public be notified of both the pros and cons of any proposed Constitutional Amendment. Perhaps seeking favors from the proponents, he has not listed any opponents' statements on any of the Constitutional Amendments appearing on this year's general election ballot.
The law is very clear: "The secretary of state shall compile the public information by printing a statement in support of the constitutional amendment, initiated, or referred measure written by its proponents, if any can be identified, and a statement against the constitutional amendment, initiated, or referred measure written by its opponents, if any can be identified."
In addition, Gant is paying a "consultant" $10,000 per month for assistance in the upcoming election. This is $1,585 more per month than South Dakota pays its Governor. Gant did not have this expenditure in the budget he presented to the Appropriation Committee, thus making this expense another example of his deceit.
The Senator stated, "Has he no shame?" Regardless of Gant's inability to earn a living elsewhere, South Dakota's citizens should not have to tolerate his incompetence for another two years [Senator Stanford Adelstein, press release, September 25, 2012].
The "pro" ballot question explanations all come from highly placed Republicans, with the exception of Democratic Rep. H. Paul Dennert (D-2/Aberdeen), whose support for Amendment O is bracketed by Republican Senator Corey Brown (R-23/Gettysburg) and the Governor's chief financial officer Jason Dilges. State Bar exec Tom Barnett writes the "pro" for Amendment M. Senator Todd Schlekeway (R-11/Sioux Falls) and Rep. Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton) advocate for Amendment N. Governor Dennis Daugaard himself tells us to vote for Amendment P.
We'll discuss the particulars of these Amendments later. But however worthy of consideration they may be, these four amendments must have a downside. Lawyers are trained to find the good arguments on any side of a case. Given all the lawyers working in Pierre, Secretary Gant should have been able to find four who could pen some quick "Yeah buts" to satisfy his statutory obligation. But Secretary Gant has demonstrated a marked inability to understand and execute South Dakota law.
And if Secretary Gant really is in over his head in running his first general election, I'm glad he at least has the sense to hire Sue Roust, someone who can handle the task. But he should at least have Legislative authorization to make such a backside-covering hire. Short of that, he should resign and let the Governor appoint Roust to run the show... assuming Roust wants to take a pay cut.