Press "Enter" to skip to content

Ellis Stirs Rumor: DC Powers Push Casey from Raven for Backing Johnson?

Jon Hunter says most of what you read on the Internet is rumor and opinion, and that you have to turn to newspapermen like him for the facts.

Thus, when newspaperman Jonathan Ellis suggests Ryan Casey's departure from Raven Industries may have something to do with pressure from Washington to nominate Raven general counsel Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for Senate and not Casey's pal U.S. attorney Brendan Johnson, there must be some there there, right Jon?

Potentially, there’s a lot going on here. And the conspiracies are bound to get revved up. Casey told my colleague, David Montgomery, last month that he never talked to Stephanie Herseth Sandlin before launching the Draft Brendan movement. Herseth Sandlin has been general council there for several months. And, given her status as the senior Democrat in the state, it might have been nice to consult her first.

There had to have been some awkwardness there at Raven, and maybe that led to Casey’s departure.

Or, there’s a chance that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee got involved. The DSCC is ruthless at instilling order in its races, something the Republicans fail to do, which is why the GOP nominates so many kooks and ghouls. Herseth Sandlin was, and is, the DSCC’s preferred candidate. Meanwhile, Casey was the public face whipping up support for Johnson, a “progressive” for progressive Democrats. At the same time this was happening, the progressives were scorning Herseth Sandlin.

Raven gets a lot of revenue from federal contracts. It’s conceivable that Casey angered some powerful people in Washington. I’ll let your imagination roam from there.

Or, maybe all of this is a coincidence, and the job was a drag, so Casey decided to move on [Jonathan Ellis, "Casey out at Raven," thatSiouxFallspaperPoliBlog, 2013.05.03].

A couple of quibbles on that top paragraph: Is it accurate to label SHS as "the senior Democrat"? Senior Senator Tim Johnson has been in statewide office for 26 years; SHS was in for six and hasn't been engaging too deeply, at least not beyond writing a few checks to 2012 Dem campaigns, in political organizing and campaigning.

And is any Democrat required to check in with any prominent Democrat before launching some political activism? I certainly don't check my blog posts with Stephanie or Ben Nesselhuf before going to press. Ryan's a smart dude; he probably doesn't even need his office's general counsel's opinion to determine whether his political activity outside of work has anything to do with whatever political activity statements Raven may have written into its policy manual.

Ellis restricts his text to speculation... but I'm going to speculate that he wouldn't fabricate such pointed speculation from whole cloth. And if there is a shred of truth to the notion that the DSCC would put out a hit on South Dakotans who'd prefer to be left to their own devices in the primary, Casey should keep the documents that prove it handy for Primary 2014. A lot of Dems would consider such documents a voting issue.


  1. David Newquist 2013.05.04

    In feeding the conspiracy theories, Jon Ellis departs from journalism and emulates blogs. To compete, newspapers think readers are attracted by speculations and rumors, the meaner and nastier, the greater the attraction. Newspapers are now allowing their blog writers and columnists to depart from the canons of journalism.

    In the day, Jon Ellis would have been limited to simply reporting that Ryan Casey had departed from Raven. If the reasons had actual news potential, he would have been required to consult with Casey, consult with a source from Raven, and find a third source who would have some actual knowledge of the circumstances. And he would be required to make his attributions by name and identification of their qualifications to be cited--no anonymous sources who are not named because they are not authorized to talk about the situation.

    While newspapers may still claim to maintain accuracy and verification as the hallmarks of the journalistic profession, in trying to compete with online sources, they have relinquished that function. It takes personnel that they no longer have, and it takes time, which means they may verify a story days after it has been put on the net.

    There are individual journalists in South Dakota who try to maintain the standards that define the profession, but South Dakota has never had a press corps that has garner admiration and praise. One of the first databases organized in the Dakotas by journalists and academics was done so to provide a source of reliable news and information. After a task force of journalists that was to investigate and report on the state of the Indian reservations in regard to race relations reported back that it found little to write about, the database's journalism review stated that South Dakota had one of the saddest press corps in the nation. So, members of the South Dakota press have little cause to claim professional status.

    Another aspect regarding Internet sources is that most reputable universities and colleges have established rigorous strictures on using Internet materials as research materials. These sites give an overview of how Internet sources are perceived:

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.05.04

    So David, is Ellis just driving blog traffic, or has he been co-opted by the Republican machine that's trying to drive wedges between Democrats and distract everyone from their own brewing in-house fracas?

  3. mike 2013.05.04

    Ellis does have a tendency to be extremely lazy in his reporting and speculation. The guy works for the largest newspaper in the state and has a hard time picking up the phone. It would be nice if he'd let those of us without the ability to get answers do the speculating and allow himself to actually seek the truth. Even if he can't report on it then he should have sought the answer because removing a employee because of a political disagreement is not only a major scandal but probably one of journalism career making.

    If Ellis' column is just conjecture then Raven should sue him because as a journalist he should have standards before implying such things. If he is correct then Raven should be in serious trouble as well as whomever they are taking orders from in the National Democratic Party.

  4. Rachel 2013.05.04

    I'm a Raven stockholder, and I'm going to be pissed if this *is* conjecture and it screws with my dividend. Just saying. More at stake here than lazy or not reporting.

  5. larry kurtz 2013.05.04

    South Dakota Democrats: ask yourselves who will be in the best position to unseat don Juan Thune in 2016.

    One way to keep the earth haters off-guard to use the same tactics they have used for years: opacity.

  6. larry kurtz 2013.05.04

    Pierre or DC: what a crappy choice.

  7. larry kurtz 2013.05.04

    Mike Rounds is clearly sick of Pierre: why else would he go?
    To serve? Ego, people: testosterone...midlife crisis.

    Think about it.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.05.05

    Stock price impacts... hmm...

    Raven announced hiring SHS as general counsel at the end of May, 2012, when it's stock price per share was $33.70. She started Sept. 1, 2012. Raven stock dipped 3% in the couple days right after the announcement, then climbed back 10% to a July peak of $37.10, then dropped to a Thanksgiving low of $24.08. Through the building speculation of a Johnson-SHS primary, Raven stock has recovered to $34.01. (Click on the RAVN tag in the South Dakota Stock Ticker at the bottom of this page for more details!)

    We can watch the bouncing ball this week to see if Republican and Democratic speculators reshuffle their portfolios on Ellis's hint of political machinations driving staffing decisions at Raven. But I'll suggest that Casey's departure will have less impact on the stock price than whether the sequester cuts orders for parachutes and balloons.

  9. Winston 2013.05.05

    The "Draft Brendan Johnson" movement is a carbon copy of the 2012 "Draft Varilek" movement. Accept that, the Brendan movement is the product of the same political machine as Varilek's 2012 bid with an even bigger additional political machine in the room, the DSCC - attempting to dictate who the SD Democratic Senate nominee will be in 2014.

    In essence, the Brendan movement (the Johnson Machine) has become Barth and the Sandlin campaign has become the Varilek 2012 of 2014.

    Poetic justice or not, maybe what we need right now is a really good YouTube commercial for Brendan to settle this matter.... it is just a thought, but then again I am often accused of being kind of too nostalgic at times....

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.05.05

    Winston, the analogy strains. Barth vs. Varilek was David vs. Goliath... and that sharp YouTube sling wasn't strong enough to take down the giant. Johnson vs. Herseth Sandlin—if that battle really is in store, if those two don't talk it over and pick separate races so they both can be on the November ballot synergizing for all those down-ticket Dems—would be Goliath vs. Goliath, machine vs. machines. (Suddenly, I hear Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men saying, "I like machines.")

  11. Rorschach 2013.05.05

    Maybe Ryan Casey left Raven because he has quietly but successfully drafted himself to run for something. I'm anxiously awaiting the announcement.

    By the way, in reading Mr. Casey's comments about how Stephanie has disappointed progressives like him, I couldn't help thinking how Mr. Casey must feel about his own father's pro-life position as a congressional candidate. Does he feel his father was unworthy to carry the Democratic banner, or has consistency become a casualty Mr. Casey's zeal to support his friend and criticize his friend's rival?

  12. Winston 2013.05.05

    It is all relative. The Johnson staff versus the DSCC makes one of the Goliathes a David.

    Let us not forget how the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in January of 2012, wanted Sandlin and not Varilek to challenge Noem that year, but Sandlin said "no." If she would have said "yes," Sandlin would have been the 2012 SD Democratic Congressional nominee, not Varilek nor Barth.

    Team Johnson is only a machine in the absence of DSCC meddling. If Team Sandlin and Team Johnson can work in unison, then I am all for it. I just find great irony in the current dogfight amongst good Democrats. I just hope it does not get out of hand and as long as it does not, then we can all "like machines"... as long as they work and together..... but then again, are we not all due for another good YouTube moment and deserving of it? .... Some prefer machines, but I kind of prefer the egalitarian qualities of YouTube myself....because it can turn a Curley into a true machine.

  13. Rorschach 2013.05.05

    By the way, Mr. Casey and Mr. Johnson are about the same age. In my opinion, Mr. Casey is every bit as impressive as Mr. Johnson. Mr. Casey has a better resume though, which includes military service. Though he didn't follow his father's career path as Mr. Johnson did, Mr. Casey has been quite successful. Absent Mr. Johnson's name recognition advantage, perhaps we would see Mr. Johnson running a Draft Ryan Casey effort.

  14. Winston 2013.05.05

    For what it is worth, I think back in 2002, the Casey family ran one of the best conventional commercials of all time in South Dakota Democratic Congressional campaign history.

    I know it grabbed me back then....

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.05.05

    Easy, R: we can't drag Ryan's position on his dad's politics into the mix, because his dad isn't running, or having people try to draft him to run. For all we know, Ryan may hold his dad's feet to exactly the same fire, just as I blog even while my dad swallows some of the silly anti-Obama baloney he hears on KELO-AM.

    But Ryan Casey for office... that's an interesting read that no one before R had mentioned. Casey worked hard for Heidepriem last time; he may be ready to take the public-service plunge himself.

    From the Dick Casey ad Winston links: "You can't have national security without Social Security, or econmoic security, or security of knowing your family can afford decent medical care. National security begins in our own hearts." Dang, Winston! With language like that, we should drag Dick Casey back into the show!

Comments are closed.