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Judge Trandahl Rejects Challenge to Rep. Gosch’s Petitions

I don't like to argue with the judge, especially not in a case filed too late by a gal who just can't win. Judge Kathleen Trandahl has put the final circuit court kabosh on Stephanie Strong's effort to hold Rep. Brian Gosch accountable to notary law. Judge Trandahl says Strong filed her challenge to Rep. Gosch's self-notarized primary-season nominating petition too late for the court to take any action. The judge also says nothing in law prohibits a notary public like Gosch from signing his own circulator's verification statement.

I may be able to live with the first part. Strong had more than two months between the time knowledge of Gosch's misuse of his notary seal became public knowledge and the final publication of the November ballots. Strong waited a month beyond that to askthe court for relief. Strong should have acted faster.

But Trandahl seems to dismiss too easily the statute behind Strong's complaint. There is law that restricts Gosch from signing certain petitions, specifically those to which he is a principal party. I haven't a full ruling, but I haven't heard the judge explain how a candidate is not a principal party to his own nominating petition.

The legal tardiness and sloppiness of Strong and whatever right-wing Gosch-bashers are backing her may keep us from getting a direct, official answer to that question. But if Strong and associates want to flush an answer out of a system they perceive to be stacked with cronies, they'll need to up their game and get the Supreme Court to give them a listen.


  1. mike 2012.12.30

    I agree Cory. Strong has made too many errors and Gosch really shouldn't be kicked off the ballot but Gant should be kicked out of his job.

    He has proven himself to be worse than partisan. He endorses in primaries and he kicks Dems off the ballot for notarizing their petitions but he knowingly allowed Gosch to notarize his petition and accepted it.

  2. grudznick 2012.12.30

    Old news. PP covered it a couple days ago. Mr. Gant was completely vindicated.

  3. mike 2012.12.30


    He wasn't vindicated. Strong just did a poor job.

    The fact is Gant is a bad SOS and needs to be replaced. No SOS should have one set of standards for his friends and another for everyone else.

  4. Old guy 2012.12.30

    I read the SDWR and thought the telling part was Grant dropped his opposition to the Dem who did the same thing after Gosch did the same thing. I think what the real story is Grant's running of his office. I hope he runs again so I can vote this guy.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.31

    The only old news here is your underwear, Grudz. PP doesn't "cover" anything, just cuts and pastes. Gosch and Gant broke laws. Judges appointed by the GOP establishment decline to defend those laws and punish those violators. Unfortunately, those willing to press for punishment lack the skill to corner the judges and force them to rule on the law.

  6. Dougal 2012.12.31

    Welcome to West River justice! EeeeHaaaaa!

  7. DB 2012.12.31

    "punish those violators"

    What crimes have been committed and what punishment is handed out for such crimes?

  8. Jana 2012.12.31

    DB, you might want to ask Senator Adelstein that question.

  9. Ken Santema 2012.12.31

    I remember getting a notice from the NNA (National Notary Association) about this earlier in the year. They were using this case as an example of why notaries should NEVER self-notarize. There are too many ethical and legal problems that can arise. Not all states have laws against self-notarization. I think 18-1-12.2 does actually prevent self-notarization in SD. However even without a law making it illegal there should be an understanding of basic ethics.

    As a first step SoS should have done a revocation of commission and looked further into the situation. In my wife's accounting office we pay for all staff to get their notary commission. Its a win for us, them, and our customers. We also make them watch the training and ethics videos on the NNA website. Apparently the person in charge of Notaries in SD must also watch these videos. The SoS does not appear to understand that his actions hurt the credibility of all notaries.

    Or maybe I'm just over-thinking this as I watch SyFy's Twilight Zone Marathon!

  10. Douglas Wiken 2012.12.31

    Any evidence of fraudulent signatures? All a notary does is indicate the person signing is the person identified to them on that date. No other guarantees as far as I know from the notary action.

    A certain level of ignorance and arrogance is however implicit in somebody notarizing their own signature. They might have recognized the nonsense of that.

    Trandahl is a piece of work.

  11. grudznick 2012.12.31

    Notaries are anybody with the sawbuck it takes to buy a stamp and fill out a form with Mr. Gant. All notaries work for Mr. Gant so he would know which ones are good and which ones are not good.

  12. Les 2013.01.01

    If Jackley had truly investigated the notary prob, all signatures under the notarized (by gosh) would have been verified.

  13. Dougal 2013.01.02

    Bob Mercer proved he can be an excellent reporter with his must-read analysis piece titled “2012: The year of Republican cannibals.” This is the link, and let’s hope everyone reads it, saves it for future reference and also reads the commentary: .

    The only disappointment is that it does not appear in print in each of South Dakota’s daily newspapers. [It appears only on a blog, which has relatively little market penetration.] It shows what newspapers and broadcast businesses can get when they either subscribe to Mercer’s reporting service or assign competent reporters to cover the State Capitol 365 days a year and routinely show up at meetings and hearings.

    Thanks Bob for stepping up to the plate and stringing this together!

    While die hard GOPers won’t like the unflattering big picture Bob accurately paints, Dems won’t visualize any answers to their apparent inability to halt the slide in voter registrations and lop-sided election results. It goes to show that in South Dakota, the two-party system is still alive and well … and living inside the GOP legislative caucus.

  14. DB 2013.01.03

    "DB, you might want to ask Senator Adelstein that question."

    My bad....I figured someone asking for punishment to be handed out to someone else could at least lay out the laws that were broken and the punishment that correlates with such violations..........I mean really....What was I thinking? :/

  15. Les 2013.01.03

    Dougal, I think that justice was handed down from Pierre. Not quite West River.
    While we may expect justice to prevail, it is well documented that justice starts at the bottom and that the same law does not equally apply to all. Possibly the reason no one but the AG can explain what laws Gant broke DB.

  16. Curtis Price 2013.01.04

    "Notaries are anybody with the sawbuck it takes to buy a stamp and fill out a form with Mr. Gant."

    You also need to sign an affidavit that you have read and understand the roles and responsibilities as spelled out in the law, and either post bond or buy notary insurance. The documents they gave me left out the detail that under this SOS anyway, the rules don't apply to you -- if you're a Republican.

    Notaries carry significant legal responsibility. A SOS and House Speaker that are cavalier about this damages the credibility of the entire State legal system. You wonder what else they doesn't take seriously.

  17. Curtis Price 2013.01.04

    The affidavit, by the way, must be notarized!

  18. Jana 2013.01.04

    From Mr. Mercers column:


    2012 was a rough, rough year for Republican Jason Gant. He saw several of his top staff resign; was found to have filed fictitious documents for his consulting business; was cleared of criminal activity after an investigation by the state attorney general into the office including the campaign business activities of deputy Pat Powers; publicly endorsed a candidate in a Republican legislative primary who was a client of Powers; provided access to other states’ election officials in exchange for donations from two technology vendors to his political action committee; and rebuilt some respect for the office by hiring two established figures in Sue Roust, the retired Minnehaha County auditor, who oversaw the 2012 elections on a temporary basis, and former First Lady Pat Miller, who is now office administrator.,0,1394192.story?track=rss

  19. Dougal 2013.01.04

    Thanks Jana. Add to that and Mercer's Pure Pierre Politics piece this item on Kelo today about Daugaard appointing Mike Rounds' campaign management team leader to the state economic development board. The beat goes on.

    Daugaard's administration carries on the unethical litany of Rounds/Daugaard administration habits of payoff patronage for pals and family. Putting Rounds' campaign strategic leader on the economic development board makes the board an ATM for Rounds' fundraising in the upcoming Senate race.

    This was critical for Rounds since he will be dependent on in-state fundraising to win a primary against Kristi Noem, who will have much greater access to federal donor resources than Rounds.

    There's just one solution to solve the corruption merrygoround in Pierre. Flush them all out in the next election. Or NOTHING will change.

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