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Senator Tidemann Taking Calls, Conversing Politely, Rehashing Talking Points

On Monday, the South Dakota Democratic Party launched a local ad campaign encouraging citizens to call Senator Larry Tidemann and urge him to subpoena Governor Dennis Daugaard, former Governor Mike Rounds, and other state officials who could explain just what happened in the GOED/Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal. Remarkably, the discussion on this blog turned to the propriety of publishing Senator Tidemann's phone number (a number which is published on Senator Tidemann's official Legislative webpage, as are phone numbers for every other South Dakota legislator).

One eager reader took up the ad's challenge and called Senator Tidemann. The reader got voicemail and left a message. Senator Tidemann called the reader back. Here's the reader's account of their very civil conversation:

When he called me back he was very nice and tried to be helpful explaining what he was doing and what they hoped to accomplish.... We talked about [Richard] Benda, Joop [Bollen], records missing and he basically held to the party stance on this whole thing. He said it was a federal program and I agreed but I pointed out my concern was how it was administered here in SD. It was almost as if there were things with standard responses he made that are used to throw me off and diminish this but I held on and was pointed yet very tactful and respectful.

He said the reason he did not want Joop to be present was that it would have been a circus atmosphere and that the written responses were the same as a subpoena. He mentioned the U.S. Department of Justice ongoing investigation and covered the basis of they are legislators and some of this is better left to police, FBI and DCI agents [blog reader, e-mail, 2014.09.17].

Senator Tidemann's willingness to call a questioner back and discuss serious issues seems to deflate the critique of the propriety of encouraging citizens to call legislators. Senator Tidemann gets extra points for affirming that a federal investigation continues and acknowledging that there appears to be criminal activity in this scandal that warrants investigation.

But Senator Tidemann loses points for talking points. Bob Mercer has rejected the "EB-5 is federal " dodge; so should everyone else.

Senator Tidemann loses more points for his circus-phobia. Is Senator Tidemann saying he is incapable of maintaining order at any committee meeting where a prominent or controversial figure may testify? When is the last time any Legislative committee meeting turned into a circus? How circusy can things get in Pierre? Is Tidemann afraid Bob Mercer will bring peanuts and thundersticks?

The worst that happens if Joop Bollen appears in person in front of the Government Operations and Audit Committee on September 24 is that two bloggers, five reporters, and ten lawyers come to the meeting. Chairman Tidemann raps the desk, points his gavel, and says menacingly, "No circus, or you're out!" And then everyone sits in rapt silence, punctuated only by the raindrop tap of laptop keys, as Senator Larry Lucas and Rep. Susan Wismer grill Joop Bollen.

Senator Tidemann is serving the public trust by talking with voters directly on the phone. Now let's serve the public trust by having former public employee Joop Bollen talk directly with the public at GOAC, in person, under oath, on September 24.

p.s. [09:52 CDT]: The caller notes that Senator Tidemann deserves extra credit for taking a call from a South Dakotan outside his district. The caller made clear in the voicemail that the caller lived in another legislative district, yet Senator Tidemann still took the time to call back. Well done, Senator Tidemann!


  1. SDTeacher 2014.09.17

    I'm glad to see that he engaged in civil conversation with his constituent. I think it speaks well of him. I did not have that experience with any of my representatives (including Lora Hubbel) a few years ago when I reached out to them.

  2. mikeyc, that's me! 2014.09.17

    Senator Tidemann for head ringmaster!

  3. lesliengland 2014.09.17

    two observations from a similar but larger, albeit death-free new jersey circus:

    1. written questions are not as good as cross-examination. (searching for recent cite)

    2. dems are nice in the face of repub obstruction. stupid. this is how its done, below.

    TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has spent more than $50 million since the start of 2013 on lawyers outside his administration — largely because of costs related to the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal.New Jersey lawmakers investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures have subpoenaed AT&T for phone records of a top aide to Gov. Chris Christie. daily kos, 9.04.14

    Lawmakers are [now] requesting a month of data, including text messages, sent or received by Regina Egea. She testified in July that she texted the governor her thoughts about December testimony on the bridge probe but later deleted the messages.
    Read more:

    [B]y a 75-0 vote, ... [t]he Assembly panel, made up of eight Democrats and four Republicans, issued the new subpoenas. The Assembly retained Reid Schar, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of corruption, as special counsel....According to his agreement with the Assembly, his firm will charge $350 an hour for partners, $300 non-partners, $125 for paralegal/assistant work.
    Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said the investigation must be done in a bipartisan manner and minority members of the panel must be allowed to view all subpoenaed documents before the public does.

    He also said guidelines should be established to protect people who may appear in subpoenaed documents but who had no role in the lane closures.

    On the other side of the Statehouse, the Senate approved a similar special committee by a vote of 33-0 "to further investigate all aspects of the finances, operations, and management of the Port Authority and any other matter raising concerns about abuse of government power or an attempt to conceal an abuse of government power."

    That panel will be led by Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), whose district includes Fort Lee and who was among the first to raise a public outcry over the still unexplained lane closures.

    "The investigation will be deliberative, thoughtful and thorough," Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said. "It will pursue all aspects of this case and go wherever the evidence takes it. We want to get the full story and we want the truth. Chris Christie Bridge Scandal: 20 New Subpoenas Issued By Panel (UPDATED)AP/The Huffington Post Posted: 01/16/2014 5:46 pm EST Updated: 01/25/2014 4:01 pm EST

    if it takes as long to bring rounds and daugaard to the mat, tidemann will go with them, as woken voters speak, imo.

  4. Rorschach 2014.09.17

    The difference between the New Jersey bridge closure fiasco and the South Dakota Rounds/Benda/Joopster fiasco is that New Jersey has bipartisan government.

    If New Jersey were controlled by one party, the public would never have found out about the political reason that the bridge lanes were closed. Nobody would have been fired. Governor Christie would never have been implicated for any political wrongdoing. And legislators of the governor's party controlling the process would not be subpoenaing anybody. They would not be hiring counsel to investigate. They would be holding sham hearings based upon unsworn written answers with no live witnesses. They would be putting the interests of their party before the interests of the public - just like Tidemann is doing here. Tidemann has no interest whatsoever in getting to the bottom of this publicly. His only interest is putting on a show to claim they looked into it - just like he did once before. Tidemann and his cronies have already turned this into a circus, and he's the lead clown.

  5. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.17

    So, it appears that Tidemann will his role in the Rounds Scandal, I'll use that term from now on since Mercer proclaimed Rounds owns EB-5, and explains it all away with Republican talking points.
    If there is anything to come from Bollen's written response, not testimony, it will be that it raises more questions than answers.
    If Tidemann allows Rounds and Daugaard the same protection the same applies to them. For some reason I don't expect them to respond, even in writing.
    The attorneys for these culprits are on a slippery slope,
    if their clients provide false statements or perjurer themselves with contradictory evidence the feds may have, the attorneys will be subject to investigation. The question would be what involvement did the attorney have in fabricating or contributing to the cover up. I hope these GOP are credible, at least more credible than their clients.
    Again, remember that there were more attorneys that went to jail in the Watergate cover up than those that broke into the Democratic National Headquarters.

  6. Jane Smith 2014.09.17

    It is one thing to be gentlemanly. But another, when that gentleman is crossing his fingers behind his back and mentally flipping off all that challenge his astute authority.
    Here again passive aggressive behavior from Tidemann. Did he just call the people that only want the truth to be told - a bunch of clowns - when he states that he is trying to avoid a circus? Gees Louis, stop all this condescending redirects and get the Joopster to face the people!

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.18

    We could learn a thing or two from New Jersey. "Circus" seems to be code for "big-league government that scares us."

  8. lesliengland 2014.09.18

    unfortunately today rachel maddow tweets that NJ gov christie may be "exonerated" by the "standard" 9 mo. fed investigation which so far has found no direct evidence. msnbc bet big on the story for naught.

    i dont think rounds has a lawyer, formally, so he might make a mistake; however jackley is certainly telling daugaard everything he needs to know.

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