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Gant “Did Not Comply with the Law”; Can We Fire the Secretary Yet?

Last updated on 2013.01.18

Judge Mark Barnett has had to fix another of Secretary of State Jason Gant's screw-ups. Yesterday Judge Barnett ordered Secretary Gant to print 25,000 new voter information guides and revise the official online ballot issue explanations (already fixed! see, Jason? It didn't take that long, did it?). Secretary Gant failed to fulfill his legal duty to compile pro and con statements for all ballot issues; he stubbornly refused to publish Senator Stanford Adelstein's (R-32/Rapid City) "con" statement on Amendment P when the Senator made it available. Senator Adelstein thus had to sue Secretary Gant to follow the law.

Senator Adelstein's press release on his and the people's victory over Gant's incompetence and intransigence pours forth verbal gems, but the single most important line is this statement from Judge Barnett: "The Secretary did not comply with the law." Secretary Gant submitted a legal response to the court, claiming to have sent letters to Rep. Hunhoff, Rep. Fargen, and Senator Bradford seeking con letters on Amendment P. He submitted a spreadsheet showing his mailing list and a copy of the form letter. But he did not produce the letters themselves (Bernie? Mitch? Jim? got your letters on file?), and he did not take the stand to testify under oath. Senator Adelstein's lawyer, Patrick Duffy, was able to beat both of Gant's state lawyers and prove that Gant broke the law....

...which leads us to the South Dakota Constitution, Article 16, Section 3:

Officers subject to impeachment--Grounds--Removal from office--Criminal prosecution. The Governor and other state and judicial officers, except county judges, justices of the peace and police magistrates, shall be liable to impeachment for drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office, but judgment in such cases shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold any office of trust or profit under the state. The person accused whether convicted or acquitted shall nevertheless be liable to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.

Senator Adelstein has been beating the "Impeach Gant" drum since June. You can't impeach stupid, but you can impeach "crimes... malfeasance or misdemeanor." And we now have a judge saying the Secretary of State broke the law.

Republicans, Judge Barnett just gave you the legal cover you need to remove one of your biggest embarrassments from office. A Republican Senator has gotten a Republican judge to declare your Republican Secretary of State a lawbreaker. You cannot allow such incompetence and corruption to further degrade the public trust in the Secretary of State's office. If Jason Gant won't do the honorable thing and resign, the first order of business when the Legislature convenes in January should be a majority vote in the House to impeach Jason Gant.

(Of course, if you guys recognize the gravity of the problem, you could get the Governor to call a special session for impeachment... or petition for one yourselves to happen this month. Leaving a crook in charge of the election is pretty serious... and rooting out corruption in high government office would look really good for you incumbents seeking re-election!)

* * *
Bonus Blather: Read Secretary Gant's simpering press release following Judge Barnett's smackdown, and you'll find Newspeak par excellence:

I am satisfied with the ruling of the court today. The court's ruling provides me the opportunity to publish more information to the voters of South Dakota. Hopefully, this additional information will assist South Dakotans in being more informed on the ballot questions on this year's ballot [Secretary of State Jason Gant, press release, October 12, 2012].

"Satisfied" with being told you broke the law? The only satisfaction I can imagine is relief that he didn't get fired on the spot. The ruling does not provide an opportunity; it tells Secretary Gant to do his job and follow the law the way he should have in the first place.


  1. Michael Black 2012.10.13

    Gant was elected by the people of SD. We know the type of person he is. If he is forced out of office are we going to be left with someone far worse?

  2. Stan Adelstein 2012.10.13

    My lawsuit (at considerable personal expense) gave him the "opportunity"?? What about my letter "demanding" that he obey the law -- weeks ago!!??

    He has the "chutzpah"* to thank the judge for what he could have done before that many people voted. I am anxious to see the full transcript of the hearing, where. I "THINK" I heard the Judge say something about an obligation to those who had already voted.

    Stan A

    * Gant met precisely the classic example of this Yiddush word "After he was convicted of murdering both of his parents, the boy asked for mercy, pleading that he was an orphan"

  3. mike 2012.10.13

    Gant needs to GO!

  4. Rorschach 2012.10.13

    Senator Stan, you're wrong about one thing. Gant is employable in the private sector. He's got so much experience making lemonade out of lemons this past couple years that he should open a lemonade stand. There's a never ending supply of product with him.

  5. Erwin 2012.10.13

    Someone has risen to his level of incompetence.

  6. Jeremiah Corbin 2012.10.13

    Jabba the Gnat is funnier. Just saying.

  7. Old guy 2012.10.13

    He does need to go but I must have missed something as Cory called him a crook. To me a crook is a person that stole something.

  8. Les 2012.10.13

    Would it be, he took the right of voters to be informed, old guy?
    And our governor is after robo callers thnking there might be something improper going on.
    Jason was no more than a water boy for the former gov and appears to be...well you decide.
    Send in the clowns.
    Isn't it rich, isn't it queer,
    Losing my timing this late in my career.
    And where are the clowns?
    There ought to be clowns.
    Well, maybe next year.

  9. Testor15 2012.10.13

    Did I understand this was a civil suit versus criminal? If only civil action it may not by itself be impeachable? As much as I dispise Gant and his ALEC friends I want them out properly and permanently.

  10. Joe 2012.10.13

    You can impeach a guy for anything. Doesn't have to be criminal, I think the point is Gant is just clearly showing he can't cut it for that job. I'd be shocked if the GOP re-nominated him at the convention because they know he is vulnerable in the general, even in the GOP state of SD

  11. Old guy 2012.10.14

    Les a crook is a wrong clown yes.

  12. Les 2012.10.14

    This links to the more accurate clowns, for the whole prose go to..

    Lyrics to Send Out The Clowns :


  13. Testor15 2012.10.14

    My point is to the question, why is Gant not brought before a grand jury / legislative committee for indictable offenses with criminal penalties? He, Nelson, Jackley, Feigen and their ALEC friends are constantly, criminally taking advantage of the offices they hold to benefit their corporate overlords. Who will step in and stop them?

  14. Me 2012.10.14

    What is the procedure for replacement? Is it an appointment or would a special election be held?

  15. Dougal 2012.10.14

    Every two years, people put their names on the ballot to step in and stop them ... unless the Democrat Party again fails to recruit people to run for key constitutional positions. This year, that's not the case with the two PUC races. There are two excellent Democrat candidates to replace the two Daugaard political appointees who sit in those seats and pander to the corporate overlords.

    Today, every constitutional position and the PUC positions are occupied by Republicans, who also have held more than 2/3 majorities in the House and Senate for several terms. You, the Madville readers, are NOT powerless. You can give money to Matt McGovern and Nick Nemec. You can vote for them. You can call your friends, family and acquaintances and urge them to vote for them. You can write letters to the editor and phone in to radio call-in shows to make your voice heard. And you can support Democrats in 2014 to replace the rest of the GOP desk shufflers in South Dakota's State Capitol.

    It's not too late to turn this around and remove the crooks from our State Capitol. It won't change by waiting for someone else to take responsibility.

  16. Stan Adelstein 2012.10.14

    To Joe and Testor

    Not a lawyer - an engineer helping to make laws for ten yrs makes me audacious to volunteer this:

    The Writ of Mandamus orders an official to obey a law WHICH HE OR SHE HAS ..NOT..DONE!! To my, unlettered, mind, such a writ, means Sec Can't has disobeyed the law

    You may not be impeached for"anything" - there is a list (which does not include ignorance, or mismanagement) but does state malfeasance.

    Sec 3 defines that word as failing to doing the duty required by law.


    That is why my attorney had shush me, when I said (In a whisper?) "ah the magic words"

    Mr Stan

  17. Les 2012.10.14

    It wasn't that long ago you were cheering Nelson on when he was taking Roger Hunt to issue Testor.
    You speak with a forked tongue.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.14

    Governor appoints (SDCL 3-4-4); no special election. As with the vacancies on the PUC, the appointee simply serves until the next general election, at which time we elect someone to fill the remainder of the term. If Gant resigned right now, I don't think we have a mechanism that would allow us to vote on a replacement, especially since absentee voting has already happened. My guess is that we thus would have to wait until 2014 to vote on a new Secretary of State.

  19. Bill Fleming 2012.10.14

    Seems like the most urgent thing to determine RIGHT NOW is whether our current SOS has the confidence of the electorate.

    Can we trust his office to handle the upcoming election chores competently?

    I'm not a candidate, nor am I involved in any SD candidates or ballot issue races this go-round. But if I were, I would have a question mark about how the process is going to go administratively... a question mark that shouldn't be there... a question mark that hasn't been there before.

    Just sayin'.

  20. Dougal 2012.10.14

    If Gant resigned right now, you can bet your bottom dollar that Dusty and Tony won't put another uber-Right ideologue/goofball like Gant in the SoS position. If I were them, I'd install someone with experience, character and positive PR appeal to take the SoS spot. But first, they'll have to talk Gant out of continuing ... or take him for a walk in the Badlands. I predict you'll see a quiet and smooth transition after the election. Gant is a juicy target for never-ending bad press leading up to Guv DD's re-election bid. There's no way Tony and Dusty will let that happen.

  21. Rorschach 2012.10.14

    Sec. of State Gant wasn't up to the task of his first general election in that office, so he brought in competence to fill his void in the person of Sue Roust - retired longtime Minnehaha County auditor (and Democrat by the way). A steady hand to do the work Gant was hired to do.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.14

    Bill, I agree: the mechanics and political implications of the change are less important than the need to make the change. With an election pending, maybe it is important that we remove Gant before a single ballot is counted, The SOS office has Sue Roust on the job; she could effectively manage this election and assure voters that their votes are counted properly. Legislature, restore the public trust and impeach now!

  23. Testor15 2012.10.14

    First off, just to remind all I have never, ever trusted Nelson. Nelson was not a good SOS. He was just good at hiding his mischief.

  24. Michael Black 2012.10.14

    Cory, I don't think that the support in the legislature is there to convene a special session before election day.

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.14

    Michael, I imagine that, as is the case with Kristi and Congress, it's hard to get legislators to want to do anything but campaign and hold down their day jobs over the next three weeks. Still, I don't think it would hurt for Senator Adelstein to call his colleagues and ask just how confident they feel in Sec. Gant's ability to manage the upcoming election and to maintain the public trust. A special session may not be palatable, but is the public trust important enough to take unpalatable action?

  26. Michael Black 2012.10.14

    I suspect there might be support for some sort of censure but I doubt very much that Gant will be forced out of office. If he leaves, it will be because he was encouraged to resign or not run for re-election.

  27. Les 2012.10.14

    Testor, you are the bullseye for the liberal bullcrap.
    All hat.
    You're gonna tell me you can't say what Nelson was hiding because he was hiding it.
    So now you have Noem because you didn't trust Nelson, don't know why, just know. Atta boy.

  28. Testor15 2012.10.14

    Nelson was a real pro at conducting voter suppression while SOS. Shall we return to his and Larry Long's teamwork concerning native voting access? There are many more ALEC inspired rulings and rules. Look them up. As I continue to point out, the ALEC kids running for office are doing the dirty work for their out of state contributors.

  29. grudznick 2012.10.14

    I have no idea who this Alec fellow is but young Mr. Nelson was the cleanest and fairest of our State Secretaries in decades, maybe a whole dozen decades. Mr. Testor is just disgruntled from his past and can't spit the sour disgruntlement out of his maw.

  30. Testor15 2012.10.14

    Having known several SD SOS officeholders of the past I was disappointed with actions taken and not by Nelson. His friendly personality has covered up the illegal or at least unethical activities he was involved in. My fear in the shakeout of this mess is who the Governor would put into this office if Gant is no longer there. Rest assured the replacement would open the Chris Nelson book of subterfuge and find more ways to sweetly continue the voter suppression rules.

  31. Justin 2012.10.16

    I've been traveling and remembering why I moved away from the East Coast, sorry I missed this.

    This is a big win for democracy in SD. Thank you Senator Adelstein. If you set up a PayPal method to reimburse you for legal expenses, I am happy to contribute.

    Stewie Griffin: "Victory is mine!"

    On a side note, my survey of local candidates on the topic that was delayed by my travel is now unnecessary.

  32. Sara 2012.10.17

    Maybe I missed something, but why don't Constitutional Amendments M, N, and O have cons?

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.17

    For the same reason that P originally didn't: Secretary Gant claims that he contacted potential "con" writers but received no responses.

Comments are closed.