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Democrats Fail to Challenge Jackley, Leave Corruption Unchallenged

Some days my party makes my blogging harder.

My friends Larry Kurtz and Leo Kallis did fine work this weekend providing the blogosphere with photos and analysis from the South Dakota Democratic convention in Yankton. I wish I could have joined them, and not just for the pleasure of coming up with the perfect pun about being seen with bloggers of their iLK.

However, as much as I would have enjoyed hanging at the citizens' press table, I suspect my enthusiasm would have been dampened by the sense of an obligation to my hosts—the few, the proud, the South Dakota Democrats—to spin my disappointment with the convention.

No, we Democrats are not doomed. Kallis offers an excellent firsthand account of how our ticket-toppers—Weiland, Wismer, and Robinson—all exceeded his expectations. Weiland invoked Wellstone and evoked thoughts of Humphrey. Wismer and Robinson both connected with good stories, something we wonky Dems need to do to grab the electorate's gut away from the GOP. The energy, charisma, and parallel construction Kallis saw from Angelia Schultz shows she's equipped to lead a conversation with voters about the corruption of the current Secretary of State and the need to elect her rather than another Republican, Shantel Krebs, to clean that house.

Four more years... of unchallenged GOP corruption and cronyism
Four more years... of unchallenged GOP corruption and cronyism

But Democrats couldn't find anyone to lead a conversation another office that deserves vigorous voter scrutiny, the Attorney General. They nominated no candidate for that position, leaving Attorney General Marty Jackley unchallenged in his bid for another four years as the state's top cop.

Dems got Denny Pierson to run against State Treasurer Rich Sattgast and and David Allen to run against Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson. But name anything Sattgast done in the last four years or Hanson in the last six that raises the same questions about fitness for office Marty Jackley's following actions:

  1. Covering for Jason Gant and Pat Powers when Senator Stan Adelstein called for an investigation into corruption in the Secretary of State's office;
  2. Allowing what looks an awful lot like a political prosecution of child advocates in Aberdeen who saw the Department of Social Services failing to protect children from sexual abuse;
  3. Refusing to dig into the questionable finances of EB-5-managing company SDRC Inc. on the thin pretext that EB-5 is a federal program;
  4. Making no fuss over missing records from the EB-5 program;
  5. Failing to question Richard Benda, who as former head of the Governor's Office of Economic Development turned loan manager for SDRC Inc. would have been a key witness in the GOED/EB-5 scandal;
  6. Refusing to allow the media to review findings of his investigation of Benda's suspicious death based on questionable legal precedent and surrender of state authority to a private party;
  7. Punting on the Bosworth petition challenge that Secretary Gant punted to him, allowing an illegitimate candidate to access the Republican primary Senate ballot (an abdication of duty mitigated mildly by his willingness to investigate and charge said candidate immediately after the election).

Gant, foster care, EB-5, Benda—the brief book is there, ready for any willing candidate to make the case that AG Jackley represents the corruption and CYA cronyism of the South Dakota Republican Party. Jackley's performance looks like part of what one reader identified earlier this year as a standard pattern over the past decade of Republican attorneys general declining to make trouble for their fellow party boys. But Democrats have deemed that pattern unworthy of the most important challenge possible, an alternative candidate who promises competence, honesty, and justice for all South Dakotans.

Foster care abuse? No big deal. EB-5 cover-up? No winning issue. Jackley's doing fine. So says that empty space under Jackley's name to most casual observers who pick up a 2014 ballot.

I will gladly support my party's nominees as they hit the campaign trail and show the chops that Kallis saw this weekend. But in failing to add an Attorney General nominee to the roster, the South Dakota Democratic Party has missed an important opportunity to hold Marty Jackley to account and to educate voters about the corrupting power of one-party rule.

Leo, sing me a song... and Larry, rewild the West.


  1. grudznick 2014.06.29

    Doomed. You fellows are doomed indeed.

  2. owen reitzel 2014.06.29

    If we are doomed grud then so is the State of South Dakota.
    If people can't see that the problems in this state are Republican made then I guess they get what they deserve.
    Being the eternal optimist I think there is a chance for Democrats because enough of the people will see what kind of people Rounds, Noem and Daugaard are.

  3. grudznick 2014.06.29

    Owen, the Democrat party is imploding in this state. If you fear the future you should register as an independent and effect some real change.

    Things are just fine.

  4. mike from iowa 2014.06.29

    Could be rethuglican justice is "trickle down" justice. If and when the 1% ever get their fill of justice,it will trickle down to the rest of us. I wouldn't be holding my breath.

  5. owen reitzel 2014.06.29

    I disagree Grud.
    Things are fine? Education underfunded, 48,000 people without insurance because medicaid not expanded, a scandal that is blossoming, a congresswoman who only votes to repeal Obamacare and not much else. No Grud things are not fine.

  6. Kal Lis 2014.06.29

    Not to go all fortune cookie on you, but a music review will soon be in your future.

  7. grudznick 2014.06.29

    Owen, have you looked at the results of how smart our kids are? Garbage men are underfuned too, if you ask them, but just because you have a bunch of whiners doesn't mean you are underfunded.

    Those 48,000 people can shut up or move to Minnesota and get a job and pay taxes. I know this may seem harsh but jayzus, people need to nut up a bit and take some personal responsibility.

  8. grudznick 2014.06.29

    Mr. H and Larry have fled the state and can't even vote here. The vacancy at the head table at the Kelly Inn grows and you all will soon need to caucus with the Libertarians just to get a cheaper room at your ventions.

    I know this enrages most of you and I don't mean to pound salt into your gashes but it is just the truth.

  9. Kal Lis 2014.06.29


    Didn't you say on another thread there was too much salt in your gravy at breakfast? Some of it probably got there as you're trying to gash it into other people's wounds. You probably should just lay of the salt totally.

  10. larry kurtz 2014.06.29

    The People's Republic of Brookings sure is green.

  11. Michael B 2014.06.29

    Things are NOT "fine".

    Let's tell the truth: our kids are being subjected to yet another squirrelly teaching system, all of our wages seem to go up far slower than our bills and eventually we are all going to face death.

    It was a beautiful day outside. I hoped you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I am not doomed.

  12. Nick Nemec 2014.06.29

    Grudz, the 48,000 South Dakotans without insurance are the working poor. They have jobs and many times more than one job. The people without jobs already qualify for Medicaid.

    Maybe they should move to Minnesota they would have higher pay and health insurance. But then South Dakota business owners would be crying to Gov. DD that they can't find employees willing to work for poverty wages. Oh wait they already do that.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.29

    There is an absolute here, it is absolutely clear that each and every Republican that votes for Rounds, Daugaard and Jackley condone South Dakota's crony capitalistic corruption form of governing.
    South Dakotans don't deserve what we get when these Republican rubes (see editorial in today's Argus Leader) manage to destroy everything they touch. It constantly amazes that poor and middle income Republicans in this state can be bought at hooker rates.
    The Republican party is blinded by their opposition to many of our social issues of the day and the wealthy smile all the way to the bank for being able to use and abuse and discard their own constituents.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.29

    It disgusts me when rednecks feel they have the right to tell people where they should move.
    Obviously they don't grasp the concept of freedom, and that includes the right to choose where to live.

  15. Jerry 2014.06.29

    I would bet you a quarter that if this would be a part of the Democratic platform, the race would be a runaway. How can they not see that this is a winner?

    Lets see now, higher revenue (always a good thing for a capitalistic kind of operation) lower crime rates (time to thin the prison population at about 30 grand each per year). What more can you ask for? Beats the crap out EB-5 and uranium sores.

  16. owen reitzel 2014.06.30

    "Owen, have you looked at the results of how smart our kids are? Garbage men are underfuned too, if you ask them, but just because you have a bunch of whiners doesn't mean you are underfunded."

    Thanks to underpaid teachers are kids are doing very well.
    The last I heard Grud you don't need a 4 year degree to be a garbageman. Sadly you're not alone in feeling like that and that is a big problem in this state.

  17. Curt 2014.06.30

    1. The Democratic Party is not "imploding." Anyone who cared to spend 20 minutes Friday or Saturday eavesdropping on the convention's debates would have witnessed active leaders engaged in intelligent consideration of the real issues our state faces. The contrast with the 3-ring circus the previous weekend in RC would have been striking.
    2. Things are not "just fine." There is no doubt that for many in our state, that is the case. That does not prove the point.
    3. Yes, the Democratic Party should have fielded more candidates for statewide offices - especially to challenge General Jackley. The failure was not for lack of trying. Call it an excuse or simple fact of life in this place, but recruiting an attorney for this task is never easy and even tougher when the incumbent has shown his willingness to employ the trappings of power to crush anyone who dares to cross him. Whether the prospective challenger comes from the ranks of State's Attorneys, a law firm, or independents who just hung out their shingle, the challenger must be prepared to face the wrath of a man with a wide array of power and willingness to use it (not unlike one of his predecessors with a similar last name).

  18. Craig 2014.06.30

    Owen: "Thanks to underpaid teachers are kids are doing very well."

    Can't figure out if you are using irony or if that grammatical error was simply coincidence, but I can't help but think of the following George W. Bush quote:

    "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"

  19. Jim in DC 2014.06.30

    Seriously, Grudz? The teachers of SoDak are whiners now? They are the lowest paid in the country. I personally would be bitching if I were in their place. The SDGOP has completely slapped them in the face time and time again with the lack of support and money they offer, or rather not offer.

  20. JeniW 2014.06.30

    For as long as the standardized test scores remain at or about the current levels, absolutely nothing will be done to increase teachers' pay or benefits.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.30

    Grudz, you err multiply (adverb, not verb):

    1. I have not fled South Dakota. I am temporarily physically absent from my home state. I remain intellectually and blogfully committed to South Dakota and hope for a speedy return to prairie habitation.

    2. I can vote in South Dakota.

    3. Registering as an Independent will not effect any real change. It will entrench the status quo, leaving the current one-party regime with no organized resistance.

    4. Things are not fine. See Owen, Michael, Nick, Curt, and others for explanations of the not-fineness (coarseness?) that Democrats must rally to fix.

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