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No Room for Fake Nice: Jason Gant Should Resign Now

That Sioux Falls paper blisters Secretary of State Jason Gant for destroying the public trust in his office with his incompetence, cheap partisanship, and refusal to take responsibility for his errors. On top of his most recent blunder—his sneaky, deceptive, and darn near racist withholding of federal Help America Vote Act funds from American Indian communities that seek perfectly justifiable satellite voting centers—the Sioux Falls editors offer this brief catalog of Gant's greatest misses:

  • Hired noted political operator and ultra-conservative blogger Pat Powers, allowing him to continue to run his consulting business. Powers, finally, was forced to resign — but not because Gant acknowledged anything wrong with the practice.
  • Endorsed Rep. Val Rausch in a primary election for a Senate seat and then claimed to see nothing wrong with such actions. Previous secretaries of state were widely known for bringing a neutral approach to that important constitutional office.
  • Instituted a flawed process of campaign finance reporting that favored some candidates over others, slowed the system for public disclosure and hindered the public’s ability to examine the influence of special interests in local races.
  • Applied election laws unequally to Democrats and Republicans, favoring the latter and even, in one case, allowing one GOP legislative candidate — Brian Gosch of Rapid City — to notarize his own petitions [editorial, "Gant Trashes Trust Placed by Voters," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.08.11].

Given such a list of public malfeasance, how can we not demand Secretary Gant's immediate resignation? Incredibly, the editors peddle a flimsy excuse not to play boss:

Under the circumstances, it might be tempting to ask for his resignation. But the reality is, with little more than a year left on his term, the ramifications of pushing such an agenda would be nastier than our state can tolerate [tSFp, 2013.08.11].

Ah yes, aren't we South Dakotans special? We're just too darned nice to do anything nasty like firing someone who's not doing his job.

What rot! South Dakotans can be just as nasty as anyone else. Firing an incompetent isn't nasty; it's good management. If a newspaper reporter riddled her stories with mistakes, used her position for partisan purposes, and undermined public trust in the newspaper, the Sioux Falls editors wouldn't keep her on staff just to avoid seeming nasty. They wouldn't even wait for her resignation; they'd fire her and replace her with a competent journalist as soon as possible. We do the people of South Dakota a disservice by declining to call for the removal of a public servant who serves not the public but himself and his partisan interest.

Jason Gant's crimes against the public trust are clear and numerous. He should resign today. If he won't, the GOP leadership should convene a special session of the Legislature to remove this blight from the Capitol.


  1. Rorschach 2013.08.12

    I would add one more thing to the Argus list. Not prosecuting Pat Powers for violating the law on registering the fictitious business name of his consulting side business - while he was working for the Secretary of State's office that enforces that very law. Mr. Powers was violating a criminal statute even while working for the agency that enforces it. But no prosecution. And not that ignorance is any excuse to a criminal violation, but Mr. Powers can't even claim ignorance because he had already registered the Dakota War College under that very same law. You have to wonder if Mr. Powers violated the law on purpose to keep his name out of the SOS database for his political consulting operation to fly under the radar while he worked for the SOS office. Surely if they caught a Democrat running a political shop while violating that law they would throw the book at him.

  2. Rick 2013.08.12

    The only surprise about the Argus editorial is it ran at all. Very, very, very rarely will the Argus speak to power in Pierre without ducking and running from its point. And this editorial was not speaking to power, but, in an embarrassingly impotent way, demanding that Gant should feel really naughty for his string of offenses as the state's number 1 protector of the right to vote. I could only imagine that Gant and his pals on the first and second floors of the State Capitol fell over laughing when the Argus took the extra step of stopping itself from demanding Gant's resignation.

    The toothless Argus Leader (and the citizens of our state) can expect more of this behavior from Gant and other offices in the State Capitol, except now with an extra dose of hubris. They have nothing to fear from the law, and now they know the worst the Watchdog Press will do is to call them naughty little boys.

    Rorschach, very well stated. The rot doesn't stop at the SoS office.

  3. mike 2013.08.12

    This is why there should be a strong two party system.

    Right now it's up to the GOP to fix this mess because Democrats don't have anyone talking about stepping up to run. Hopefully the GOP does.

  4. Wayne Pauli 2013.08.12

    Mike, I tweeted that sentiment on Sunday. The GOP has to know that this guy is wrong and they will bring a quality replacement forward. If not for the changes made to the prison system last year he could be a candidate. He is making a fool out of all of us and especially those that voted for him.

  5. Wayne Pauli 2013.08.12

    One more thing...just imagine if he had been doing these things when Janklow was Gov. He would have been gone, no doubt about it. We have had some very good people that have served the State in this position. He is just not one of them.

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