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Susan Wismer on Fire: New Democrat Goes on Offense at Dakotafest

Susan Wismer, Democratic candidate for governor, Dakotafest debate, Mitchell, South Dakota, 2014.08.20
Susan Wismer, Democratic candidate for governor, Dakotafest debate, Mitchell, South Dakota, 2014.08.20

This is the Sue Wismer we've been waiting for.

This is the Sue Wismer who would have beaten Joe Lowe by 30 points.

This is the Sue Wismer who can beat Dennis Daugaard.

South Dakota's three gubernatorial candidates debated in the steamy Dakotafest tent right by Mitchell yesterday. Nobody wilted, but Democrat Susan Wismer bloomed. In a display of rhetorical grit that nobody expected (seriously, I challenge you, find someone who did), the accountant from Britton snapped her pencils and took it to Governor Dennis Daugaard on Medicaid expansion, education, EB-5, and the failure of one-party rule in South Dakota.

The opening statements were mild and predictable. Independent Mike Myers, with his usual deliberate yet pointed delivery, said he's too old to be bought and needs a job. He spotlighted his health co-op plan, which he said would put us in control of health care instead of the Sanford/Avera corporate complex.

Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard, at Dakotafest debate, Mitchell, SD, 2014.08.20
Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard, at Dakotafest debate, Mitchell, SD, 2014.08.20

Republican Governor Daugaard rattled off his achievements in the "big job" to which we elected him four years ago. He said his administration eliminated a budget deficit (pre-emptively refuting his predecessor, Mike Rounds, would claim in the subsequent Senate candidates' debate that there never was a deficit). The Governor then said he's faced record flooding, widlfires, ice storms, a blizzard, a tornado... which might lead some to worry that God isn't raining favor on the current administration. Daugaard then touted his criminal justice reform bill and the addition of K-12, college, and vo-tech programs (which Mike Larson will tell you is specious poppycock, considering all the cuts Daugaard made to worsen the education crisis).

Wismer offered her own homey-farmy biography, but then she went on offense. She said she is running for the people not represented by the current administration. Opening the theme of one-party rule, she said she wants to bring to Pierre a healthy competition of ideas that has been missing for a long time.

And Wismer kept punching throughout the debate.

Top Priorities: Medicaid Expansion vs. Austerity

Asked about top priorities, Wismer went right to Medicaid expansion. She said that South Dakota could get $272 million a year and health coverage for 48,000 South Dakotans with the stroke of a pen. Instead, Daugaard refuses on ideological grounds to expand Medicaid under the ACA, leaving hospitals to write off $88 million in uncompensated care and leaving counties and the rest of us to should those costs.

Independent candidate Mike Myers, at Dakotafest, Mitchell, SD, 2014.0820
Independent candidate Mike Myers, at Dakotafest, Mitchell, SD, 2014.0820

Myers spoke more generally of the need to move away from political, economic, and financial bankruptcy and reduce insurance premiums that cost more than monthly mortgage payments. He said took another shot at the corporate health care complex, saying their high-price ads and executive salaries call into question their non-profit status. He also spoke of shifting money from end-of-life care to long-term care.

Daugaard avoided addressing Wismer's and Myers's concerns about health care and rattled off more of his fiscal conservatism, saying his budget cuts were great and courageous and that we can't afford to spend money we don't have. He also cited the #1 ranking for business that all of his fiscal conservatism won for South Dakota from CNBC, but didn't address why this year CNBC dropped us to #11.

K-12 Education Funding

Asked how to establish stable long-term funding for K-12 schools, Myers piled together comments about investing in children, looking at pay and Common Core, and putting teachers and parents in charge of the process. Myers did not address the specific question of how to fund K-12 priorities.

Daugaard said that even with his 2011 cuts (which he said were the least amount taken from any budget area), the state still spends more general fund dollars on education than anything else. He said the current funding formula works and is providing schools this year with an increase twice that of inflation. He then repeated his implication that K-12 ed is bloated, with 50,000 fewer students than when he went to school but 10% more teachers and double the administration and other staff. Daugaard averred that he was "not saying that's right or wrong; it's a fact," but candidates don't say things in debates just to inform us; they make normative statements to persuade us that their policies are right and others are wrong.

Daugaard said the NEA says we're 51st in teacher pay but not 51st in per student funding... but keep in mind that our per-student funding reflects all sources, including the over-reliance on local and federal funds that makes up for the state's last-in-the-nation share of K-12 financial support.

Daugaard said the "first place I look to spend extra money is education," which contradicted a statement he made in his answer to the opening priority question, in which he said he used $100 million in unexpected revenue last year to reduce South Dakota's debt load.

Wismer began by saying that Lyman County still hasn't filled all of its teacher slots. She said the teacher shortage has been slow to come to public attention because schools don't like to admit that they are they are tight on staff and filling spots with what few warm bodies come forward.

Then she attacked again, asking why we love the free market but don't apply that thinking to teacher pay. She said South Dakota disrespects teachers in rhetoric and in financial priorities, making it easy for students to leave the state for the $10K or $15K more they can make teaching in neighboring states.

In a marquee line of the campaign, Wismer said, "It takes more than low taxes and great hunting" to attract young people. She said her uncle and grandpa who served in the Legislature didn't pay lip service to education and then cut the budget. "We are chasing our future right out of this state," said Wismer, and to get that future back, the tone coming from Pierre desperately needs to change.


Asked how we can export our ag products when our roads are falling apart, Daugaard drew a distinction that may start to wear on local leaders: he asserted that state infrastructure is hunky-dory while local roads and bridges are suffering. (This is akin to his answer on teacher pay, which he says is a local decision, not the state's—translation: don't blame Dennis!) Daugaard said the state highway system is in the best condition it's been in many years because (oh, drumroll, please!) we got over $200 million in stimulus that accelerated our road projects.

Say it with me: self-reliance.

Daugaard said county and local officials report lots of roads in fair to poor condition and many bridges functionally obsolete, unable to accommodate the width and weight of new farm equipment. He said his staff and the Legislature are studying the issue and considering solutions, including an increase in the gasoline tax.

Wismer looked Washington-ward and urged Congress to get its act together on highway funding. She agreed with restrained irony that the federal stimulus helped a lot. She said past leaders showed foresight in buying and preserving the core rail lines and said we should expand railroads to ease the strain on our highways.

Then came more Wismer buckshot. The state, she said, is passing the buck (not the bucks) to the locals, leaving struggling to pass wheel taxes. Responding to Daugaard's promise of diligent study, she said the state studies this issue all the time but doesn't dare talk about solutions, let alone act. "This administration continues to stand in way of allowing locals to take care of their own issues," said Wismer. "That will change with me as governor."

Myers said the counties are contributing to road problems by draining water away to their downstream neighbors, washing away their roads. He noted that his clique of old and cranky breakfast companions told him that in his days as a legislator, Daugaard supported regional water district but now as governor opposes them. "Where a person stands depends on where they sit," said Myers.

Medicaid Expansion Redux

Moderator Jerry Oster asked all three candidates to address Medicaid expansion and the millions non-expanding states are losing.

Wismer again cited the 48,000 people, the population of Mitchell and Brookings combined, who right now go to bed not knowing if they can afford whatever might happen tomorrow. Wismer said expanding Medicaid would provide preventive care that would decrease costs, emergency conditions, and ER visits.

Wismer claimed the Governor's refusal to expand Medicaid is an ideological problem. Wismer said Daugaard is perhaps handcuffed by extreme right-wing voices, costing South Dakota $272 million a year.

Myers didn't talk about Medicaid expansion. He talked about deaths from iatrogenesis and said, "access saves and access kills." There's a point there, but explaining it requires more text than Myers fit into his two minutes. Myers proposed a "Health Care Financial Informed Consent Act" to require up-front sticker prices on every medical service. That's a totally sensible idea, but it also fails to answer the Medicaid question.

Daugaard opened with another lecture about the mechanics of the topic. Eventually getting to the question, Daugaard said that because Ben Bernanke is worried that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, South Dakota should not buy into expanding Medicaid as a third entitlement. He fretted about the state cost: expanding Medicaid would cost South Dakota only a couple million the first couple years, but state costs would grow to $36 million a year over time. What trade-offs, cuts, deprivations to education or other needs will we be making, Daugaard asked.

Daugaard said, "We value self-reliance (see above, on stimulus and roads). We should "help those who can't help themselves." He said half of the 48,000 Wismer cites can already get insurance on the federal exchange (though I suspect he supports a lawsuit that would make that insurance unaffordable for those South Dakotans).

But in his final word on the topic, Daugaard said he's "open to considering expansion." We didn't have time to wonder at that whiplash, because then rolled forth the thunder of...


Myers, who was shaking his head during the question, sadi EB-5 is the most visible sign of South Dakota's oft-highly ranked corruption. He applauded Wismer's efforts to dig deeper.

Then Myers got weird, saying a Republican legislator told him that an FBI report says the muzzle of the shotgun was more than 18 inches from the tummy. That's how Myers said it, not filling in the name of Richard Benda, the disgraced Rounds/EB-5 official (and fall guy?) who died of a shotgun blast last October. He offered to show a copy of Benda's death certificate and have a helper demonstrate how Benda would have had to hold the shotgun to kill himself after the debate. I did not attend this promised sideshow, and I am unclear on how such a macabre demonstration advances the debate on EB-5.

Myers did say his first action as governor would be to appoint a special prosecutor to find where our money went in the EB-5 scandal and make sure we don't lose such money again.

Daugaard again signaled that if EB-5 goes south, he will cut Rounds loose. EB-5 "started before my administration," said Daugaard, and he emphasized that his Office of Economic Development hasn't used it. He suggested that the investigations of a Republican state attorney general and a Demcoratic U.S. Attorney are sufficient assurance of fair and thorough investigation. He lauded the three audits he ordered and says he has implemented every recommendation of those audits to ensure the problems that have arisen from EB-5 don't happen again.

"I wasn't there!" said Daugaard. He said he is trying to be as transparent as he can and is not hiding anything.

Wismer spoke of EB-5's "long, tortured history" and "several bankrupt projects" (easy, Sue: here in South Dakota, it's two: Northern Beef Packers and the Veblen dairies... though South Dakota legal usage equates several and two). Wismer said the EB-5 promoters "used state's good name to make promises the state couldn't keep." Bad actors abused our state's credibility.

On a policy level, Wismer said we shouldn't invest foreign money in projects that South Dakota money was smart enough not to invest in. We shouldn't support a program that lets foreigners buy way to the front of the green-card line.

Wismer challenged the Governor's audits, saying they were very carefully designed to avoid the questions we are asking today about how the state ran EB-5. The lack of a second for her motion to subpoena EB-5 mastermind Joop Bollen shows the ills of one-party rule. EB-5 is "emblematic of the larger issue of one-party dominance of both branches" that is "just not healthy," said Wismer. "There are people whose jobs depend on telling the governor what he wants to hear and not the truth."

Economic and Workforce Development

Asked what role the state should play in developing the economy, workforce, and wages, Daugaard offered three goals. We should encourage existing South Dakota businesses to grow with a stable, low-tax, low-cost, reasonable-regulatory environment. We should attract outside businesses, as we did with 3M and AKG. And we should encourage entrepreneurial spirit, as we did by letting Joop Bollen and Richard Benda run EB-5 without proper oversight (oh, sorry—that's my example, not Dennis's).

Daugaard said the state can provide low-cost loans, tax incentives to compete with other states, trade missions to help manufacturers find new markets, and provide good infrastructure. Daugaard did not mention education as a component of economic development, but he did fret over imaginary federal rules that would keep children from driving tractors.

Wismer said she was proud to be a part of a solution during the 2013 session, "what we thought was going to be a good economic development plan." (Hear Susan winding up again?). The voters' rejection in 2012 of the governor's plan to hand money from the general fund to corporate interests allowed a real bipartisan discussion and compromise. Wismer said 2013 Senate Bill 235 put legislators on the state economic development board, funded housing development (especially in small communities), directed money to infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, etc. to support business), and directed money toward community development. But this winter, says Wismer, Governor Daugaard ripped out the funding mechanism for that compromise and left funding to the Governor's discretion.

Myers said that economic development in South Dakota has suffered from bad actors (and into my head pops the Reagan presidency), and as governor he will pose economic development questions to Daugaard and Rounds, either voluntarily or under oath, but he didn't say what questions.

Myers then bent the question to one of his favorite issues, hemp. He said politics gets in the way of good solutions. Hemp could be a billion-dollar industry in South Dakota and could thrive especially on the reservations, but Myers said the Big Oil, lumber, and cotton lobbyists oppose hemp for business reasons. Besides, as he wittily put it, hemp makes rope, rope rhymes with dope, and that means marijuana! In his his best laugh line of the afternoon, Myers said that by the same thinking, we should ban corn because it can make whiskey.

Teacher Shortage

Asked if there is a teacher shortage and what the state ought to do about it, Wismer said we need to "change the tenor of the conversation from Pierre" that currently disrespects teachers. She said our budget cuts have driven the teacher shortage. Our budget cuts forced schools to cut the vo-tech programs that produced the welders and machinists of whom the Governor now complains we don't have enough.

Wismer said we are reaping the consequences of 40 years of the lowest teacher salaries in the nation. "The free market works, folks. Why are we surprised?" She cited a university president who told her Appropriations Committee that South Dakota is short of math and science teachers. Asked how to recruit new teachers, Wismer said the university president gave a simple answer: "Respect them and pay them better; end of story."

Myers said we have to spend money to make money but must spend it in the right places. He said he can't think of a better place to invest than education, but it has to be relevant education. He talked about kids using the Internet, but failed to tie that to addressing the teacher shortage.

Daugaard said, "The teacher shortage is no different from the shortage in other fields." He said he has tried to address that general shortage through his bull sessions—er, I mean, workforce summits.

He admitted the shortage is a supply and demand issue (so more pay should work to prove our demand and increase supply, right?), but he said the problem exists in other states (in other words, again, don't blame Dennis!) He said we have trouble finding teachers because of our low unemployment rate.

He said the free market does work, but he then shifted blame to the evil teachers union. He said the union demands pay based on tenure and college degrees, not quality of performance. He touted his 2012 plan to pay math and science teachers more (you know, the plan we voters soundly rejected).

Daugaard gave away his ground by affirming Wismer's position: "I'm open to paying more based on market conditions; more money will attract more people to these professions." But in his final dodge, Daugaard said school boards set salaries, not the state.

Closing Statements

Myers repeated that we should subpoena Rounds and Daugaard on EB-5. He made a new promise to abolish the Governor's Hunt and establish the People's Hunt. Saying he's not a career politician and not for sale, he exhorted us to think for ourselves.

Daugaard clsoed by saying, "I appreciate that several people are still awake out there." (Translation: I really hope you found everything Susan said boring, because if you were paying attention, you saw here give me a beating!) "I am honest... I'm not motivated by money or power; I left a good job in banking... to take less money to work in a children's charity." Daugaard promised to "never stop listening, never stop learning, never stop working for you."

Wismer pressed her attack right to the end. She harkened to her days on the swather and having a broken sickle section. That broken part would leave a row uncut, and that flaw wouldn't go away by ignoring it. She had to stop and fix it.

Wismer said our ancestors left us a well-run swather, but the current administration is letting sickles break and not replacing them. We're letting roads and bridges decay and letting schools decline. The Governor won't acknowledge the damage, said Wismer, but the damage is there, and the consequences are mounting.

Wismer closed saying we need to "change the priority from taking care of Pierre to taking care of people."

Susan Wismer brought exactly the fire that an underdog needs to beat an incumbent, to pierce the shield of unearned popularity that leads many observers to think Daugaard is a shoe-in. Wismer brought this fire for the first time, surprising everyone who expected the Wismer of the primary who didn't project the same charisma, leadership, and righteous anger as primary challenger Joe Lowe.

For the uninitiated, the Dakotafest debate showed a passionate and aggressive Democratic candidate who is ready to go toe to toe with a Republican Governor, challenge his one-party complacency and blame-shifting, and lead this state back to the right path.

Susan Wismer sounds like the new woman (the new Amazon?) that we Democrats want and need and that Republicans should fear. Go get 'em, Susan!


  1. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    "Unfortunately there is a different story to tell in the states that did not expand Medicaid. A new report from the Urban Institute says that for “every $1 a state invests in Medicaid expansion, $13.41 in federal funds will flow into the state. Expanding Medicaid will likely also generate state savings and revenues that exceed expansion costs.”"

  2. Lynn 2014.08.21

    Reposted: Tara Sorry to say this but I was waiting for the debate yesterday to give one more chance to Mike Meyers in a time constrained debate environment to effectively communicate and it was not a very good performance.

    Look at how fast and forceful Susan Wismer and Dennis Daugaard covered specific points and then watch how Mike spoke very slow and at many time was very vague at how he would solve specific issues South Dakota. I don't feel he has a proper grasp on the details of issues and communicating those ideas are far different being in a coffee shop than a debate environment.

    Look at how Susan talked from experience of dealing with the inner workings of government being in the various legislative committees especially with her detail and numbers oriented skill set from being a CPA.

    Prior to the debate I was concerned about Susan's performance in a debate since I initially was for Joe Lowe in the primary but Susan used the built up frustration and knowledge to fire up the audience and attack Daugaard. I'm fired up! It's amazing with proper preparation and all of this pent up frustration with what has been happening in our state how well we can overcome fear and drive that message home!

    Tara Mike and Lora need to drop out and support Susan. Otherwise their campaign will be an entertaining distraction and suck those precious votes away from the momentum of positive change in Pierre.

  3. Lynn 2014.08.21

    Reposted: Tara I'm not trashing Mike. I like really Mike but not for elected office such as Governor. The campaign has been a train wreck from the very start, has no money and will not have the grassroots volunteers needed to help with voter registration, go door to door and make phone calls.

    The pressers that Mike and Lora have had were hijacked and not controlled which mean's the true message of the campaign was lost. Look at the last presser that Ryan Gaddy posted. The press didn't show up. How many people were in that room? How many new people came to that presser?

    Besides Mike taking a very long time to get a few vague points across in the debate he was unable to finish sentences to make his point and lost the audience. Again! I really like Mike as a person and would love to visit with him sometime but his campaign as Governor is a no go and will suck votes away from what WE are all fighting.

    I understand being an independent as I've stated before but when you realize your chances of winning Mike, Lora and you need to take a hard look at what is the best way we can help make it better for South Dakotans. Otherwise a continued campaign may be looked upon as being selfish and bullheaded which in the end causes more harm than good.

  4. Lynn 2014.08.21

    Tara Mikes campaign will be lucky if it breaks out of the single digits in November. Please be realistic. You and Mike have done best of your abilities to run a campaign but it is not making any significant advance in mobilizing volunteers, support or movement in polls. Look at the last presser the press no longer came and you still didn't answer the question of how many people were in that room and especially if there were new people. It's simply not being realistic to continue this campaign but that does not mean Mike, Lora and you cannot continue to help advance the cause.

  5. Danno 2014.08.21

    Then Myers got weird, saying a Republican legislator told him that an FBI report says the muzzle of the shotgun was more than 18 inches from the tummy.

    That's not weird, what's weird is people buying the story that someone, in theory familiar with weapons, would commit suicide by shooting themselves in the abdomen by wedging the weapon between his stomach and a tree then poking at the trigger with a stick till the gun went off.


  6. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    Lynn, they will be there today in Rapid City. The phone was ringing off the hook yesterday. Campaigns have ups and downs. At least we got it taped. Will just do it again, but nest time it will be in the morning instead of 3:30 in the afternoon. I will give the press a little benefit of the doubt because we originally had it for Tues but had to change it to Wed.

  7. Lynn 2014.08.21

    Danno what happened in the end with Richard Benda is just bizarre and just does not make sense. Since we have been blocked from getting any real answers to this whole EB-5 fiasco it just adds to the suspicion.

    If we could get a full disclosure of what happened this would help finally put much of this to rest, take appropriate action if needed and move on but it's just not happening yet.

  8. Lynn 2014.08.21

    Tara outside of the public display from the report yesterday which got some attention Mike Meyers didn't do that well in the debate yesterday. If the circumstances for Mike's campaign were different I'd be supporting him independent or not.

    I've covered everything I could above Tara and to think otherwise is just not being realistic. The campaign is turning into a minor distraction not worth covering.

    Susan Wismer has demonstrated she clearly has the best chance and I plan on volunteering to do what I can to help her, Rick and other legislative candidates like Roger C. mentioned that need our help.

  9. Bill Dithmer 2014.08.21

    Although I still think the governors race has already been run and won by the GOP, the seeds of doubt have been planted. But you have to remember SD is like an old bird dog.

    It has selective hearing, and when it does hear the response is going to be slow. In many cases it will be like pushing feedlot crap uphill with a nail.

    South Dakota has a serious lack of checks and balances when decisions about who gits what bids, and for how much.

    For a history of how we got to this point you need to look at the year 1973. That is when Governor Kenip presses and got government reorganization, through the legislature, giving broader powers to both the governor, and in turn to those that were appointed by him. Remember those people served at the governors discretion, and pretty much did what he wanted them to do. Think GF&Ps. The people lost control of that body in 73, along with many other things.

    What started as an exercise in streamlining state government, a good idea, has come to this.

    The Blindman

  10. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    Mike maintains that there is no way Benda could have committed suicide with the mussel being more than 18 inches from his side when the gun was fired. The state needs to prove him wrong. Myers is questioning the investigation, because if they are covering it up, then it shows the voters of SD that the our politicians are lying.

  11. 96 Tears 2014.08.21

    Dr. Kurtz just exposed a new gaping hole in Jackley's whitewash of Richard Benda's gunshot death last October from Denise Ross' coverage today of the Mike Myers statement:

    ""I never said specifically it was a suicide. I said our findings are consistent with the cause and manner of death determined by the forensic pathologist," Jackley said."

    Despite Myers' awkward handling of laying this questionable and secret report on the death, Jackley is now shoving responsibility on the Charles Mix County coroner's office. Couple that with Jackley's decision to withhold until recently that he had ordered felony counts against Benda in early October and a grand jury to rush the process against him, you have to wonder about Jackley's political motives to cover up for the man who appointed him Attorney General.

    With millions being channeled secretly to Mike Rounds' pals in the mega dairies and the Aberdeen beef plant (and elsewhere) and a U.S. Senate race at stake, you don't have to be a dimestore detective novelist to realize an unsupervised climate ripe for greed, theft and worse. Who would have a motive to murder Richard Benda?

    It's clear Marty Jackley walked away from that question and won't let anyone else get a glimpse of the clues until after the general election.

  12. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    You are right Bill. The legislature does what they are told by the Governor. Rounds and Daugaard brought in Common Core with no vote from the legislature. Lynn, I respect your opinion and it's good to vote your conscience.

  13. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    Talk about incompetent unitary executives: Either Rounds and DD knew exactly what was happening or they are both unfit to serve South Dakota.

  14. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    I'm still convinced sex trafficking lives in the underbelly of this story.

  15. Bill Dithmer 2014.08.21

    Larry, are you saying there is a "Brown door"?

    Maybe that reference goes back to far for anyone here.

  16. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    The Badlands of Deadwood makes a perfect analogy, Bill: decades of looking the other way until Bill Janklow wanted to distract from Jacinta Eagle Deer.

    Ah: the good ol' days, init?

  17. Lynn 2014.08.21

    Brown door as in Deadwood Brothel Bill?

  18. bearcreekbat 2014.08.21

    I really appreciated Susan's arguments on the Medicaid expansion and what the Governor's refusal to accept it has cost South Dakota. I would like to see her take it to next step - an analysis of what the multiplier effect would have done to the $272 million a year we would have received.

    We know that this money would have been spent over and over again. To cite an example from the above article, if consumers spent 80 cents for every dollar received, the multiplier is 5. Five times $272 million = $1,310,000,000. The governor's refusal has cost this state over a billion dollars in economic activity.

    The second point I hope Susan raises is the fact that South Dakota tax dollars have helped fund the expansion. By refusing it, the Governor has denied all South Dakotans the benefits of tax dollars we paid into the federal government to the extent our dollars helped fund the Medicaid expansion.

  19. Danno 2014.08.21

    I think someone shot him. Ticked-off EB-5 investor, someone in authority, I don't know, but I'm not buying suicide, not in that way. Someone familiar with weapons would put it in-mouth or under-chin.

    Some tried to spin it as an attempt to make "a suicide look like an accident for the insurance money", that's just... not believable. But what do I know...

  20. charlie5150 2014.08.21

    KDLT showed a clip last night of someone having a literal "lol" moment when Rounds stated he would have fired Benda had he known. I had to rewind and watch that several times, too funny.

  21. Bill Dithmer 2014.08.21

    Pams Purple Door, Lynn. It was a fixture until it became a liability

    The Blindman

  22. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    Sibby: any idea of how many of your kind support Mike Myers?

  23. Mary Perpich 2014.08.21

    Susan was great. She made Daugaard show his arrogance and insecurities. He doesn't like to be questioned and avoids that by insulating himself and throwing the questioning to his aides. He was weak on his policies and how they have helped the state. Easy to see why. His policies have set the state back by decades. Susan can win this. I always knew she could and trusted her to come out fighting and with all the evidence needed to trounce her opponent.

  24. Bill Fleming 2014.08.21

    ...and talk about looking the other way! One (perhaps apocryphal) story about Deadwood in those days is that when a john would refuse to pay for services rendered, the ladies would actually call the cops. The cops would ask the guy, "did you use the room?" When he admitted that he did, the cop would ask the ladies "Is this a boarding house?" When they affirmed that it indeed was, the cop would tell him he could either pay up, or spend the rest of his night in jail. LOL

  25. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    Mr. Fleming, nice pile left over at PP's: it's classic! Wonder if he'll leave it or bag it?

  26. Bill Fleming 2014.08.21

    Time will tell, Mr. Kurtz. It's not like he hasn't asked for it.

  27. mike fro iowa 2014.08.21

    Who knew seafood was so deadly? Mussels? Yeah,I know what she meant but puhleeze,.....

  28. mike fro iowa 2014.08.21

    Somebody should point out to Jackley that people believe he is sitting on evidence of foul play and should release that information to the public. Unless of course,he is protecting friends.

  29. Jenny 2014.08.21

    This Susan Wismer would go far if she was in a blue state. Daugaard's refusal to insure 48000 uninsured people would be scandalous and very unpopular in a state like MN.

  30. Jessie 2014.08.21

    well ... ok ... this is what I was looking for from Wismer. After stumbling at the gate, she's in the race now. I can give her my vote without qualms.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.21

    "insulating himself"—Mary, that's a good point, and Susan hit that point in her closing words on the EB-5 question. Suasn hit on all cylinders. I was impressed and mightily pleased that I didn't have to stretch to be impressed.

  32. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.21

    Blindman, the Eagle Deer story is much worse than I remembered. So Benda wouldn't be the first SD citizen likely/allegedly killed by a SD government official. Slimy.

  33. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    When Tara and Mike extol the "think for yourself" bit, the translation is "think like me or else you're wrong".

    I don't know anybody, especially on Madville, that does not think for themselves.

  34. Bill Dithmer 2014.08.21

    Deb you had to spend some time on the Rosebud back then to understand. Wild Bill rode a big loud bike with a sawed off shotgun in a scabbard. He thought of himself as untouchable, and he was. Some people he treated good, and they though he was a god. But most were afraid of him, or what he stood for.

    The Blindman

  35. Joan Brown 2014.08.21

    All I can say about Myers is I like him as a person, but I think he is too old for the job. I'm 74 and just think it takes a younger person. I really liked when Myers was at USD and he had a toll free number that seniors could call for free legal advice. He even wrote a legal letter for me one time.

  36. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.21

    Danno, you can think that someone murdered Benda. We all can think that. But I will not accept anyone's assertion that an FBI report supports the assertion that he was murdered until someone shows me the FBI report. I won't even consider believing in the existence of the report until Myers brings forward the legislator whom he claims told him of the report. Legislator, if you're out there, step forward. Tell us what you know. Show us the document, or if you can't, tell us in detail how you got access to it.

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.21

    Joan, I will never exclude someone from office solely on the basis of age. I need to see evidence that old age is translating into health or cognitive problems that will prevent the candidate from doing the job.

    That said, Lynn is right that Myers did not perform as well in this debate as Wismer or Daugaard. He offered some good ideas, but his responses often lacked specifics.

  38. bearcreekbat 2014.08.21

    larry, I knew R.E. "Ed" Brandenburg as a Judge and although I butted heads with him a few times, I learned that he was an extremely bright and wise judge. He taught me more about SD's legal system and the practicalities of justice than anyone else I experienced.

    I imagine closing the Deadwood brothels was painful to him, as I think he thought he was hurting the women who worked there by taking away their ability to earn a living in a field they choose, but he did believe in following the law. I do believe that if he ever thought a woman was there against her will or choice, however, he would have been the first to take very harsh measures against anyone who was responsible.

  39. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    bat: the New York Store anchored Main Street as did many other mom and pop businesses. i took the logging crew to Pam's in '78 after a good year: it was a blast!

  40. bearcreekbat 2014.08.21

    One more memory larry. I recall talking with Judge Brandenburg about the death sentence after someone murdered a highway patrolman between Spearfish and Belle. He was of the opinion that imposition of a death sentence was morally reprehensible and said that if he had a death case he would have no choice but to recuse himself.

  41. grudznick 2014.08.21

    Ms. Wismer should confer with that young libbie lady from Sioux Falls who serves in the legislatures and realized that she should not wear shirts that show her lower arms.

  42. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    Cory: Todd Epp is not convinced Benda was killed by his own hand, either.

  43. grudznick 2014.08.21

    Ms. Volesky, I have to tell you that your man Mike is really growing on me. I like to listen to him.

  44. larry kurtz 2014.08.21

    Linda Daugaard should confer with that young earth hater lady from Sioux Falls who serves in the legislatures and realize that he should not that show her lower arms.

  45. grudznick 2014.08.21

    Do you mean Barbara Peters, Mr. kurtz? You might be right there, sir.

  46. 96 Tears 2014.08.21

    Very interesting, Lynn.

    Marty Jackley failed to tell the public he was preparing felony counts against Mike Rounds' cabinet member until long after the June Republican Primary. How selective and convenient for Mike Rounds, his employer!

    I'm wondering, since Jackley lacks forthrightness and integrity, if there were any others who would have been subject to criminal charges at that time he was planning to charge Mr. Benda. Remember, Jackley offered that information in the Operations & Audit Committee meeting a few weeks ago.

    If Mr. Benda was being charged with theft on a grand scale, it's conceivable others might have been considered co-conspirators to swindle millions of public money. That piece of information might be helpful in determining who really pulled the trigger Oct. 22.

    Maybe Marty will tell us in December or January, but perhaps a reporter should get him on record now and start a FOIA action.

  47. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    I just saw on Montgomery's Political Smokeout that Bob Mercer has or will file suite against Attorney General Jackley over the Benda investigation.

  48. Danno 2014.08.21


    Understand your point, just wanted to vent. I stand behind my points, as opinions, as far as that goes. Just sayin.

  49. grudznick 2014.08.21

    Mr. C, that will be entertaining won't it? Anybody want to wager odds on which of them wears a hat and what sort of hat it will be?

  50. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    The interesting part of Jackley's testimony in front of GOAC was that he had prepared an arrest warrant for Benda.
    A couple things bother me about this:
    1. Jackley stated in was going to convene a grand jury to seek an indictment against Benda, yet he already had the arrest warrant.
    2. If Benda committed suicide over this impending action on his arrest, who gave him the heads up.
    3. Was the grand jury Jackley referred to just for the Benda death investigation? Was there ever a sitting grand jury for the whole GOED investigation?

  51. 96 Tears 2014.08.21

    Exactly, Roger! The Jackley narrative envisions a despondent Dick Benda rigging his shotgun in a tree, clutching a tree branch and then using it to push the trigger to give him a very painful gut shot and eventual death. Why? Nothing to live for? Really? In trouble? How did he know? Who told him and why?

    Of course, now Jackley is walking his suicide ruling back a bit. He now attributes that to the Charles Mix County (podunk) coroner's office. How convenient! Are the feds on his ass?

    The thing I wonder is if Jackley's grand jury order was a public relations scam to dig into the matter and proclaim Rounds et al "pure as the driven snow" (a la Janklow and the video lottery swindel in 1994). Or was Jackley trying to harass Benda (and maybe Sveen and Bollen) into not cooperating with the feds?

    What nobody expected was a shotgun going off into the side of Rounds' GOED Director in a remote shelter belt. That's when the shit hit the fan and the real mystery begins.

    God speed, Mr. Mercer.

  52. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.21

    I welcome venting, Danno. Carry on!

  53. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.21

    Mercer lawsuit? Yes! These journalism guys have a really good sense of timing, don't they? Mercer will sue, but he won't win until just after the election, at which point AG Jackley will feel compelled to step down, allowing a replacement to be named by Governor Wismer.

  54. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    Also from the Rapid City Journal a few minutes ago, the SDDP has hired Rapid City attorney Patrick Duffy to advice them on the legal aspects of the GOED/EB-5 program and the Benda death investigation.
    Duffy and the SDDP leadership will hold a press conference at the Sioux Falls library at 1:00pm tomorrow.

  55. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    Had dinner with Mike in Mitchell. He was out in rapid and the press came out in full force unlike Sioux Falls. W River is more Mike style. Let it all hang out. Well his good Republican Legislative friend that revealed the evidence to Mike about Benda; Mike want's him to come out and tell the truth to the people. He is scared. Mike got a call from David Montgomery and asked Mike the name of this Legislator , and Mike told him. Mike told him if you want to serve in the Legislature, there should be know secrets so he told David Montgomery who he is. There are other Legislators involved also. The Fear factor is alive and well in Pierre. Myers is unbelievable.

  56. 96 Tears 2014.08.21

    Pat Duffy is my number 1 choice to go after the bastards. Junkyard dog with that JFK je ne sais quoi.

    Buh bye Rounds. Daugaard, watch your ass 'cause you're next. Jackley, you're just an errand boy.

  57. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    Tara. you might tell Mike that when he talks about Avera in western South Dakota no one knows what he's talking about, that is a Sioux Falls area issue.

    Things have certainly gotten interesting this week, Democrats have all come out swinging at EB-5 this week, I don't look for it to ease up.
    With Jackley's recent testimony before GOAC, combined with their failure to subpoena Bollen, Rounds, and Daugard, they are in full damage control. The damage control will lead to further cover up and stonewalling.
    If you how scandals unfold, it is usually the lying and obstruction of justice that gets the culprits.
    With Benda now the dead fall guy, who will they sacrifice next?
    Where did the $167 million Communist Chinese investment dollars go?

  58. charlie5150 2014.08.21

    Jackley initially tried to sell the "double billing" issue as the cause of Benda's distress. We were expected to believe that the suicide was over approximately $5,500. Later, almost like a side issue it was mentioned that $550,000 was discovered as "prepayment" of loan fees. Not "salary advancement" or "employee theft", but "prepayment of fees" as though it were nothing for the public to fret about. The explanations and timing of the release of information is meant confuse and placate those passively paying attention.

  59. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.21

    96, I agree with you completely about Duffy. He is as tough and determined as they come. The Democratichanges Party can't do much better.

  60. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    That is awesome, way to go Democrats. We will be there to support the cause.

  61. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.21

    BTW Cory, that is a great photo of Ms. Wismer. She appears to be bold and challenging. Did you take it?

  62. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    All the trash talking about Myers? Mike brings the shot gun, tape measure and stick to the debate, that take guts. Sometimes you got to take the criticism from both parties to get the message out. We don't have to hire a Lawyer, Myers is one. He taught over 2000 Lawyers at USD Law school. I think he taught Duffy well. I am sure Duffy has great respect for the Professor. Who cares who gets the credit, it's time to dismantle the machine.

  63. 96 Tears 2014.08.21

    That's right Tara. Dismantle the greed machine. Credit does not matter. Let's just not make gaffes.

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.21

    Thanks, Deb! All photos on the debate stories are mine.

  65. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.21

    Tara, among the reasons Wismer won this debate and Myers didn't is that Wismer didn't make a provocative claim that relies solely on unverifiable hearsay. From Montgomery's report:

    One piece of evidence Myers previously cited may not exist. On Wednesday, Myers told the debate audience he's "got an FBI report that concluded that the muzzle of that shotgun was more than 18 inches from (Benda) when it fired." But on Thursday, Myers said he didn't have that FBI report. Rather, he said he had been told about the report by former lawmaker Eldon Nygaard. Nygaard, who was friends with Benda, said Thursday he hasn't seen any such FBI report and isn't "even aware they had a report" [David Montgomery, "Mercer Sues for Benda Death Info as Myers Doubts Finding," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.08.21].

    Nygaard?! He's not a legislator; he'a a former legislator. He was out before Benda's death. Nygaard does have an EB-5 connection, but what position would he have been in to access any FBI report pertaining to that investigation?

  66. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.22

    Holy wingnut Cory,

    Is this the information Tara referred a number of times that would blow the doors off GOED? I'm certainly hoping Mike doesn't have anymore misinformation or unverifiable evidence to muddy the waters of the Democrats efforts to expose this scandal.
    The Myers campaign has been inundated with campaign problems, now it has a very serious credibility problem.
    How will Tara excuse or justify this false claim, she can't say the Republican machine made Myers do it.

  67. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Roger are you accusing Mike of being a Liar? Nygaard is scared. He has been to China on the EB-5. He got the information from another Legislator. He is the one that told Mike, and Mike told him he needs to reveal his sources. That is how you get to the truth. Remember, Myers Is a Journalist and a Lawyer. You have to question a lot of people to get to the facts. I think Myers gave David Montgomery a lot of information and names to finish the story. Cory as far as the FBI report goes, the paper got their facts wrong. Papers don't always get it right. I had Mike read the article tonight and the first thing he said was, I did not tell them I had the FBI report, so that's where the misinformation comes from. We'll see if Nygaard reveals the Legislator who saw the report. Let's just see it. I am very curious to see it. There is not one person that knows Mike who would ever accuse him of lying. Cory, didn't you try and get a hold of Lora last night for some information? She told me you texted her, or is she lying. There must be something there or your party would not be jumping on the band wagon and having a press conference tomorrow. But we welcome all the help we can get no matter who gets the credit.

  68. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Cory, say what you want about Myers resurrecting the Benda case. Now all of a sudden Bob Mercer is suing Marty Jackley for the Benda Investigation. I bet Patrick Duffy will also be questioning the Benda case. The more the merrier. This is not going to go away.

  69. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.22

    Tara, are you suggesting some sort of causation? Myers did not resurrect the Benda case. Myers made an unsubstantiated assertion. Susan Wismer made a motion that drew the GOP into an error and helped reignite the media scrutiny. I won't claim that Wismer provoked Mercer's lawsuit, but I will speculate that Mercer, after due consideration, is leveraging the natural political pressure of the election season that may make the defendant in his lawsuit more amenable to surrender.

  70. mike fro iowa 2014.08.22

    Lets get into conspiracies. If the state won't attempt to retrieve any monies that Benda absconded with,can that be considered "hush money" and a form of bribery which is supposed to be illegal?

  71. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Cory, I don't care who did what and when and what you believe about Myers, because whatever he does or says you always put a spin on it. Now, it he was the Democratic nominee, you would think he's golden. That's the connotation of playing politics, and Cory you are very good at it. I really don't care who gets the credit, all I care about is the truth, so stop trying to discredit his character. That is why I hate partisan politics too.

  72. Craig 2014.08.22

    Tara: "I really don't care who gets the credit, all I care about is the truth, so stop trying to discredit his character."

    I'm not seeing character assasination here, I'm just seeing people looking for answers and opining on who they feel is in the best position to chase them. Myers might be great at asking questions, but as his debate performance shows he isn't all that great an answering them. He seems distracted and/or uninformed. I for one am simply not convinced he would make a good Governor nevermind a great one.

    Then again Tara, it was you who posted "Myers is unbelievable" just a few posts ago. Hard to say what you meant by that statement, but one might argue who needs enemies when you have friends like that?

  73. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Craig, check out his resume. He is an outsider who has always had a reputation of pushing against the machine. He has never served in the legislature or played the political game. If he did, he would be worth millions today. If elected, he would put the best team together without playing party politics. Furthermore, we will do what ever it takes to see the report. Sometimes you have to get radical. Just look at Myers history. I will have Myers give Cory a copy of an the article from the 1996 Tempest Magazine article titled "Start The Revolution With Me". And yes someone in Rapid asked if he was getting to theatrical with the Benda enactment, and Myers told him if that's what you believe then vote for Wismer or Daugaard.

  74. Douglas Wiken 2014.08.22

    Move on folks. Nothing behind that big curtain. It looks opaque, but it is actually transparent. Trust me.

  75. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.22

    If Mike Myers believes in transparency in government, he should immediately have published the FBI report he says he has access to.
    I saw or I heard is not evidence.

    Tara, there is no need for me to call Mike a liar, all he has to do is produce his documentation on EB-5 and prove me wrong.

  76. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Roger, the paper misquoted him. I think it has been corrected. Myers told the paper a legislator saw the FBI report. He just wants to see and everybody else to see the report. He has the autopsy report not the FBI report. I am sure the media by now has made the correction.

  77. Lynn 2014.08.22

    Tara I just noticed I have repeatedly misspelled Mike's last name. Sorry about that!

  78. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Not a problem Lynn, I didn't even notice.

  79. Heidi M-L 2014.08.25

    Is there a video of this debate somewhere?

  80. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.25

    Heidi, I thought that Sioux Falls paper would have it, but I'm having trouble finding it. Anyone else know where we can watch Wismer beat Daugaard?

  81. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.25

    JeniW, that KDLT report has clips, but it's not the whole show. Any others?

  82. JeniW 2014.08.25

    Maybe Susan's campaign staff have it, if there is one?

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