With Republicans Al Novstrup and Dan Kaiser victorious in the District 3 House race, we will not have the opportunity to test aspiring assistant majority leader Lee Schoenbeck's determination to veto the will of the people and refuse Democrat Burt Elliott a seat in the State House. 3,404 District 3 voters were undeterred by the well-publicized fact that Elliott only rents a basement in District 3 and likely keeps his main underwear drawer in District 2, but that wasn't enough to beat Kaiser's 3,709 or Novstrup's 3,931. (Fellow Democrat Pat Hale drew 2,778 votes.)
The voters have spared Elliott Schoenbeck's wrath, but perhaps not Marty Jackley's:
Brown County State's Attorney Larry Lovrien said Brown County is not looking into the matter, but it's his understanding that Secretary of State Jason Gant has asked Attorney General Marty Jackley to investigate the matter.
"It's the function of the attorney general to look into these things," Lovrien said.
At issue is a sworn statement signed by Elliott on his petition that says he is a resident of the district in which he is sought election. Lovrien said if that sworn statement is false, that's perjury, which is a felony offense [Elisa Sand, "AG Reportedly Asked to Look into Elliott Residency," Aberdeen American News, 2014.11.05].
Strangely, the AG's office says it knows nothing about any residency complaint:
Sara Raburn of the attorney general’s office said she checked with a couple of individuals within the office on Wednesday, and that they did not know anything about an investigation into Elliott’s residency [Elisa Sand, "South Dakota Attorney General Has Yet to Be Asked to Investigate Burt Elliott Residency," Aberdeen American News, 2014.11.06].
Demonstrating that he was more interested in electioneering than law, Representative-Elect Novstrup, who beat the drum hard against Elliott's fictitious residency during the campaign, tells Sand he suddenly "doesn't have an opinion" on the Elliott residency question:
“It’s completely out of my hands,” Novstrup said, passing on that determination to the Brown County’s state’s attorney or the attorney general’s office [Sand, 2014.11.06].
Perhaps Novstrup just wants to let bygones be bygones. Elliott says he thinks his election loss moots the question.
Elliott is mistaken. As we know from the Annette Bosworth and Clayton Walker cases, oaths matter. Petitions matter. Honest voter registration matters. If the Attorney General determines that any citizen has sworn a false statement, the Attorney General should hold that individual accountable.
But remember, the case Republicans have made against Elliott for perjury rests on this one sentence to which every South Dakota voter swears on the voter registration form:
I actually live at and have no present intention of leaving the above address.
If Attorney General Jackley decides that Elliott has committed perjury by declaring that he "actually lives" at his District 3 address, then Attorney General Jackley will find himself obliged to prosecute some 1,700 "residents" of 110 East Center Street, Madison, South Dakota, 57042 of perjury. That's about how many traveling RV owners have registered to vote at MyDakotaAddress.com. Not one of them "actually lives" at 110 East Center. The same will be true for thousands of other RVers registered at similar addresses in Hanson, Minnehaha, and Pennington counties.
AG Jackley, Republicans, are you ready to unleash that torrent of litigation?