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Sec. Gant Takes PAC Donations from Vendors

Bob Mercer digs through the state campaign finance records and finds Secretary of State Jason Gant striking yet another blow against public trust in his office. This time, Gant is accepting big PAC donations from contractors with his office:

Gant's political action committee, Committed to Victory, received $7,500 from BPro, a Pierre-based technology services firm.

The committee also received $10,000 from an Omaha, Neb., company called Government Systems, Software and Services Inc.

Those payments were made for access to participate in a pheasant-hunting event which Gant hosted for other secretaries of state.

Gant's PAC appeared to have more than $12,500 left over after covering expenses for the hunt [Bob Mercer, "State Contractors Paying for Access," Aberdeen American News, October 16, 2012].

In addition to access to other secretaries of state at Gant's hunt, the contractors have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in deals with the Secretary of State's office:

BPro was paid more than $630,000 by South Dakota's state government for services delivered under various contracts during the 2010 through 2012 budget years.

Much of that activity occurred under contracts with the secretary of state office under Gant or the previous secretary of state, Chris Nelson. Gant took office in January 2011.

Elections Systems and Software, a company with the same Omaha address as GSSS, received nearly $32,000 from state government during 2011 and 2012.

One of the company's specialties is electronic voting, involving the use of computer-linked voter-registration books that allow for the use of voting centers that replace precinct halls [Mercer, 2012.10.16].

Hey, that knife needs a twist: Mercer's investigation of the last decade of campaign records finds that Gant's predecessor, Chris Nelson, never accepted campaign donations from vendors.

We need to give Jason the nickname "Arrow," not because he's straight, but because he ArroGantly disregards integrity and public trust for his own gain. From day one, Secretary Gant has treated his office not as a sacred public trust but as his personal plaything, a title and power to serve his own selfish, partisan interests.

South Dakota Republicans, Jason Gant is your biggest current embarrassment (and that's saying a lot, given the woman you have occasionally occupying our seat in Congress). The sooner you get him out of office, by impeachment or by twisted-arm resignation, the better, for both your party and for the state of South Dakota.


  1. Rorschach 2012.10.16

    I don't think the GOP will impeach him. He may consider resigning if somebody offers him a golden parachute, but he'll want a higher salary than what the secretary of state makes (which is too low anyway). It wouldn't surprise me if after the election Gant resigns to take a plum job with Avera or Sanford.

  2. Rorschach 2012.10.16

    The question after Gant resigns is who will be appointed to replace him? I have an idea, but it's somewhat dependent on election outcomes so I don't want to publicly predict.

  3. oldguy 2012.10.16

    I don't see him resigning as this is his claim to fame. It is too easy to point fingers and blame others for all of his screw ups. While I understand people wanting him out I, for one, hopes he runs again so I can watch him cash and burn. He really is a clown.

  4. Anthony Renli 2012.10.16

    I don't know what makes me sadder - the fact that he is taking these donations or the fact that nothing he does surprises me anymore.

  5. grudznick 2012.10.16

    It is getting harder to defend young Mr. Gant. I can only imagine that soon Mr. Gant will be able to explain that the donations and the contracts are not related. I'm sure that's the case.

  6. mike 2012.10.16

    I don't think Gant will resign or be impeached.

    I predict the not running for reelection again if anything. But that would require him to realize he's an idiot.

  7. mike 2012.10.16

    If Gant resigns we will see another Dusty Johnson drone appointed to a seat. Chris Nelson now owes Dusty as does Kristie Fiegen.

    Who else will Dusty appoint if Gant is gone?

  8. mike 2012.10.16

    Gant probably hasn't broken any laws but the perception is doing him in. Imagine if Powers was still there! This would be an even bigger circus.

  9. Melky 2012.10.16

    Mike, I don't know that Dusty has any drones, but I do think he and the Governor have brought great new folks into the team. Chris Nelson has been a lifer, but Fiegen, Walt Bones (Ag Sec), Pat Costello (Sec of EcoDevo), Dennis Kamingk (Corrections Sec),Trever Jones (Public Safety Sec) were a refreshing change from the Pierre standard retreads. Add to that all of the new faces in the govs office (Matt Konenkamp, Jim Seward, Will Mortenson, Kelsy Webb, etc.), and I guess I'm impressed. I know a lot of those folks have connections to Dusty, but I don't think that makes them drones. What else is a chief of staff supposed to do? Convince the governor to hire only strangers off the street?

  10. Les 2012.10.16

    Outside of Jason and possibly a little bad press on Bones, I can't think of a more approachable staff since Mickleson.

    I'm sure many of these will become lifers if they stand the high ground and withstand the scrutiny Chris Nelson has.

  11. Justin 2012.10.16

    Fiegen is an impressive addition? She is dumb as a post and fits perfectly well as she is willing to take ALEC money. She probably thinks a $7k donation is worth $600k in taxpayer money just lime Gant does.

    Whatever we all do for money, we aren't maximizing our returns if we aren't trying to bribe this admistration. We can make 100x our money in no-bid government contracts by donating to the Daugaard administration: this is apparently the opportunity the GOP is offering to strengthen the economy. Sounds like a good deal, can everybody in SD get it or is it only for out of state interests?

  12. Stan Adelstein 2012.10.16

    Hi again Mike

    You are right, at least from what I have read. No laws were broken, he just walked on the edge - took money that he should not - used his inside knowledge to line his pocket(s).

    Now he DID break the law with regards to his specific mandates, as said the a Republican Judge, ruling on a Writ from a Republican Senator (who supported someone who defeated that Judge in a Republican primary.)

    But that law dealt with lying (by deliberate omission) to the people thus damaging the Constitution of the State --- not money in sort of a disguised bribe. And I am more than a little disappointed that the self aggrandizement has caused more anger than misuse of his office to help some political aim.

    Stan Adelstein

  13. Jana 2012.10.16

    Is he the only constitutional office holder to have his picture on every page of his web site? Is that picture a large file? The SoS site is horribly slow to load...or is it the spyware/cookie monster that PP built into the site?

  14. grudznick 2012.10.16

    Ms. Jana, I do not know much about the internets and these computer pictures but I know that the size of the head in the picture doesn't matter for the size of the file. Pictures of bowling balls don't weigh more than pictures of marbles.

  15. grudznick 2012.10.16

    Mr. Stan, do you attend any of these hunts put on by our elected officials? Do you see Mr. Gant there?

  16. Jana 2012.10.16

    Grud, I was talking in terms of resolution...I don't make jokes about weight.

  17. joeboo 2012.10.17

    I doubt he gets impeached or resigns unless he is facing criminal charges which knowing how pierre works I just don't see happening, he will try to get renominated at the gop cinvention whether or not he wins depends on which other goper wants to run against him.

  18. Justin 2012.10.17

    I hope he stays so we can count the fools that come out supporting unethical behavior in our government. Lee Schoenbeck is already on that list.

  19. Testor15 2012.10.17

    I find it interesting Bob Mercer a voice for the mainline GOP is bringing this information to a broader audience. Are the powers in charge in Pierre tired of his antics and are ready to push him out once and for all?

  20. Steve Sibson 2012.10.17

    "Imagine if Powers was still there!"

    How do you know he is not? Powers blog often brags about being on the inside of the SDGOP establishment Gestapo.

  21. Stan Adelstein 2012.10.17

    To Mr Grudznick - no I have never been at one of the hunts. Not even the one's put on by my friend Bill Janklow -- who never took in any money, only put it out (and I did contribute) -- his hunt's were to entice corporate officers to bring business to SD. He never "hunted for bucks!" Only for jobs!

    Nor have I attended an hunts that were honestly and openly hunting for money for the GOP - not individual candidates, and the proceeds were fairly spread. (and I think I may have contributed dollars to one or more of those)

    Sec Can't only hunted for money for himself, personally. Rest assured, I never even knew about his shenanigans until Bob Mercer did the research!

    To Testor and Sibson -
    Frankly, there are no "powers in charge in Pierre" it just looks that way -- sometimes.

    Also, I no longer see a "SDGOP establishment Gestapo." Schoenbeck and his ilk, have no presence, and are/were hardly an "establishment". The Scandinavian culture and tradition of this wonderful South Dakota, will - in the long run - NEVER - permit that kind of bigotry to flourish. And as they say "NEVER, is a long time.

    By the way, I was so busy helping to shape a true representative slate of delegates for President-to-be Romney, that I did not see the Santorum slate until it was published. Headed by the Sec, including Powers and Schoenbeck, and others like them, was sort of interesting. Almost all of the anti-semetic, misogynous, homo-phobes that I fought all of my personal/political life were there. As I wrote to the Washington Post, responding to a perceptive piece on the nature of Santorum's appeal. "if this was the 1930s in Germany, the first five names on the SD Santorum slate would have been wearing Brown Shirts. They really do not represent my grand State." (The primary, where they barely broke 17% proves me right. Studies show that there have always been about 15% of American society who hate, to compensate for their own live's failures and guilt.)

    Mr Stan

  22. Michael Ewald 2012.10.17

    As a proud Watertown H.S. Arrow. I protest your negative characterization of our mascot. Arrow Pride!

  23. Rorschach 2012.10.17

    Sen. Stan,

    As much as I respect you and am with you on many things, calling people Nazis isn't the way to win an argument.

  24. Steve Sibson 2012.10.17

    Rorschad, especially when he tells others they shouldn't.

    Stan, ask your neighbors of the South Dakota Gun Owners if there is still an "establishment" mindset that is found in the legislative process in Pierre.

  25. Jim 2012.10.17

    Stan, if Gants omissions on the ballot explanation were intentional, I think he's committed a class II under SDCL 3-16-1. I don't really expect Marty to get too excited about it. Maybe you could get the Hughes Co. State's attorney to look at it.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.17

    You're right, Michael: I should show more respect for Arrows than to associate them with Gant.

  27. Michael Black 2012.10.17

    Stan, no matter what Gant did or did not do, the legislature will not be doing anything about it. There are far more important issues in the state that are not being addressed that need our attention.

  28. Justin 2012.10.17

    I don't think there is any more important issue in this state than corruption in our state government.

    But I'm willing to hear what you think is more important Michael.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.17

    Michael, you over-assume that the Legislature is committed to acting on far more important issues.

    Sen. Adelstein: the first five names on the Santorum delegate list were Jason Gant, Lee Schoenbeck, Robert Fischer, Allen Unruh, and Jim Bolin. Are you sure that brownshirt comment is right?

  30. Justin 2012.10.17

    Whom did he call Nazis Rorschach?

    If it was so flagrant and offensive, it seems like I must be dumb and I need to see the quotes and the explanation.

    Saying "you called people Nazis!" is perhaps an even worse way to win an argument.

  31. Michael Black 2012.10.17

    The budget, higher ed, ObamaCare, K-12 education reform, teacher pay, Missouri River management, Native American everything, tourism, highway construction, pine beetle...

    Gant is not important compared to any one of the above issues. If you want to see corruption, go to Chicago.

  32. Justin 2012.10.17

    I don't know about that. Illinois' government ranks a lot higher than we do in potenial for fraud.

    Our budget has a surplus. Repealing Obamacare would cost the US $100 billion. I agree our teacher pay is too low given that we are 51st but only the 26th cheapest state to live in. Somehow I think you probably think that being too high is the problem, though.

    No, I would say the corruption in our government is far more important than any of those issues.

  33. Rorschach 2012.10.17

    For goodness sake Justin. Must I draw you a picture in the google age? Read Senator Stan's comment. Google "brown shirts" and report back to me pronto with your mea culpa.

  34. Testor15 2012.10.17

    Michael, Gant's ALEC corruption is the root of our "The budget, higher ed, ObamaCare, K-12 education reform, teacher pay, Missouri River management, Native American everything, tourism, highway construction, pine beetle..." problems.
    If we as citizens do not work to cleanup the ALEC sponsored problems we will never get our government cleaned up.

  35. larry kurtz 2012.10.17

    anyone yet drawn a line between the above-menschened horseman and the legislation to end lawsuits against the church of the holy roman kiddie diddlers?

  36. Justin 2012.10.17

    R, unless my browser is broken and my eyes are bad, Cory was the first to bring up "brown shirts". Senator Adelstein said he no longer sees a Gestapo in this state. So whom exactly was he calling a Nazi?

    Sometimes people are so eager to be offended they lose the ability to read.

  37. grudznick 2012.10.17

    Mr. Stan, thank you for your answer about not being at or seeing Mr. Gant at those kind of things. I am glad for that. And ignore these people who are talking about shirts because that is just crazy talk. You are doing our state a great service and I personally thank you for your many years of service past, present and future.

    Thank you, sir.

  38. Stan Adelstein 2012.10.17

    Thanks for the admonition. Five was one number too high. I made the classic mistake of assuming that "all who lie down with dogs, have flees."

    Since I did not personally know Representative Bolin -- I screwed up (and I thought that someone else was number 5 somehow)

    For the rest who became so incensed about "nazis," if you were in Germany, and if you wore a brown shirt -- then -- you were a nazi. If you were not in Germany then, but in South Dakota now -- and shared the values and philosophy those that DID wear brown shirts there and then ............ oh darn, I lost my way in the forest of words. Engineers to better with numbers. IknowwhatIshoulddo. If 2+3=5 somewhere, equal five that there is colored brown -- the 2+3=5 somewhere else ........ oh that does not work either. I need to be going to sleep. Goodnight all.

    Mr Grudznick's Mr Stan


  39. Justin 2012.10.17

    Sorry R, my browser must have been broken, I didn't go back far enough. Still, this was hardly a Hank Jr. moment, imo.

  40. Stan Adelstein 2012.10.18

    Ok, a new day has dawned, and I have yawned and now worry that these terrible winds out of the west will blow us to East River -- and that ain't the land of OZ (or is it?)

    Jim, you are correct - he has guilty of either a first or second degree misdemeanor, in the exercise of his office, and so now eligible for impeachment. The facts are, however, as Mr Black said, there are more important issues in this State - so let's have a session with many new members concentrate on them.

    Suppose it became clear that a sufficient number of level headed Representatives (in whose house an impeachment must begin) are willing to make the process happen. Now suppose the Sec Can't does not want to be the first example in SD history of that happening to a SoS - and he will have to through life with little children pointing to him while their other hand covers their mouth as they say "tehehehe their he goes". Such a SAD picture!.! Maybe he will get his fat a__ out of that undeserved office.

    Mr Stan

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.18

    Stan, Michael, the South Dakota Legislature faced many of the same important issues in 2007. It still found time to investigate and censure Senator Dan Sutton, who stood accused of improper behavior toward one page. Secretary Gant has committed a misdemeanor against hundreds of thousands of voters. He stands accused of other instances of misconduct of his official duties. The Legislature has at least as much interest in investigating Secretary Gant as it did in investigating Senator Sutton.

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.18

    ("get his fat a__ out of that office"—jiminy crickets, Senator! You sound torqued off!)

  43. Stan Adelstein 2012.10.18

    The trouble is that this is a Constitutional action, unlike a hearing. This requires an investigation by the entire House, and a majority vote to impeach.

    Then the entire Senate must listen to the case, and decide if he should be removed from office. That is a lot of time, a procedure that has not been done for a long time (if ever). On top of that there may be some people taking both sides (though I have not heard from a single, not one, legislator that does not want Gant gone) - so then there is wrangling.

    With so many new legislators that need to learn the process of committees, caucuses, bill introduction and review - this time really real will be a miserable waste.

    Now I know at least two house members that are champing at the bit to start the circus, but I want legislative action on real issues - not just entertainment.

    Mr Stan

  44. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.18

    I'm curious, Senator: if we had a slam-dunk case, how long might a full impeachment process through Senate vote take?

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