Press "Enter" to skip to content

Most House Republicans Oppose South Dakota Ethics Commission

Can't get permanent Daylight Saving Time, can't get an Ethics Commission... do we have to initiate everything?!

The South Dakota House decided Wednesday that a statewide Ethics Commission is a bad idea. Democrats had proposed not even a bill, just a measly resolution, HCR 1006, that called on the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council to work with the executive and judicial branches to whip up a proposal to reinstate a South Dakota Ethics Commission and propose legislation to that effect for next year's session.

We had a South Dakota Ethics Commission once. Democrats created it under Governor Dick Kneip in 1975. It was supposed to look into campaign activities and audit campaign finance reports. Governor Bill Janklow and resurgent Republicans put a stop to that foolishness in 1979.

Republicans aren't inclined to let such foolishness start again, either. Their arguments against a new Ethics Commission boiled down to...

  1. Rep. Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Watertown): ethics commissions don't work. "If this idea works, I want a Tom Cruise commission to make us all strong and handsome." That's debatable, say the 41 states who do have ethics commissions.
  2. Rep. Brian Gosch (R-32/Rapid City): We have lots of other mechanisms to deal with ethics issues (all of which are controlled by Republicans and thus have a hard time investigating Republicans).
  3. Rep. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls): The Government Operations and Audit Committee took "an exhaustive amount of testimony" on the EB-5 scandal last year, showing current mechanisms are sufficient. Exhaustive? Perhaps Rep. Mickelson got tired of making excuses and avoiding evidence, but GOAC hardly delved into all of the issues of the EB-5 scandal.
  4. Rep. Justin Cronin (R-23/Gettysburg): GOAC worked hard and found nothing wrong but Richard Benda's double-billing, and now Richard Benda's dead, so there's no more information to be found, and the whole investigation just led to people "blasting and smearing" our Republican leaders. Ah, yes, the debate did turn to a defense of last year's EB-5 "investigation," which only shows that Rep. Cronin and other nervous Republicans want us to think that "investigating ethics" is just a witch hunt. Rep. Cronin's response also shows the intensity of his devotion to blowing smoke: Do the very alive Joop Bollen, Mike Rounds, and Jeff Sveen really have no knowledge that would illuminate the EB-5 scandal for us?

The vote against HCR 1006 was mostly party line. Democrats did win four Republican supporters: Rep. Lynne DiSanto (R-25/Rapid City), Rep. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls), Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-3/Aberdeen), and Rep. Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs). Rep. Hickey complained that Democrats did not seek Republican sponsors for their Ethics Commission resolution. I appreciate Rep. Hickey's vote and those of his three brave colleagues, and I point again to those Mugwumpy Republicans as opportunities for Democrats to forge some unlikely alliances... but I also have to note they are only four out of 58 in the House. The Republican monolith remains mostly united against those of us seeking ethics and accountability.


  1. 96Tears 2015.02.06

    It's sickening the Felon Protectionist Society, known as the SDGOP House Caucus, thought all of this was funny. Their comments can be saved and used against them in the next election.

  2. mike from iowa 2015.02.06

    Wingnuts have no moral,spiritual or physical ethics which is why they are butt-ugly through and through.

  3. Douglas Wiken 2015.02.06

    Ethics? We don't need no stinkin' ethics. Nothing under this curtain of crap.

    Meanwhile, let's jack up our own pay.

    Legislative Republicans have all he honor of cattle thieves and their lawyers.

  4. David Newquist 2015.02.06

    Corruption, especially when it involves government in collusion with predatory corporations, is what comprises "good business" in South Dakota. Ethics and things like liberty, equality, and justice get in the way of good business decisions. The unconscionable fleecing of millions of dollars from foreign investors is good business. In that context, maybe Larry Kurtz's Pope Frank can be asked to nominate Richard Benda for sainthood. He gave his life so that he could be cited as the only blemish on our upstanding legislators and officials.

  5. larry kurtz 2015.02.06

    Verily, David: Pope Frank has yet to clarify his role in some of Argentina's crimes against humanity since ethics lapses have been replicated in Vatican history as a matter of course. Pierre isn't a shit hole of biblical proportions by accident.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2015.02.06

    1. Lee Schoenbeck, on the " Tom Cruise Commission to make us all strong and handsome". Tom Cruise is short or as Grudz might say "he has stubby arms".

  7. Roger Cornelius 2015.02.06

    Pro- Corruption 53 Anti-Corruption 16

  8. Lynn 2015.02.06

    Well at least with the obvious whitewashing that happened at GOAC and quick killing of any chance of an ethics commission at least one of our national rankings will go up again.

  9. leslie 2015.02.06

    michelson: subpeona, subpeona, subpeona, subpeona. if ONE investigator of any skill was authorized to go thru it all, you would get this guy and his friends.

    keep watching the chris christie clusterf*ck. its identical to the character of our EB5 debacle. as long as the "too big to fail" frmr US Atty christie successfully evades, rounds will be confident no one will trap him. this is a convenient NJGOP format to him follow. "We have had to answer EXHAUSTIVE questions!!"

    there are 2 dozen other evasions besides GOAC toothless questioning i could rant about, rep. michelson. that name has a dignified ring to it, init?

    don't stop dems.

    our rogue pilot doesn't care about little people. just read his twitter account.

    now christie's lawyer had a united air express route to his vacation home, that shut down 3 DAYZ after he stepped down from the heat as Port Authority CEO, his law firm did just what the dozen firms in SD do, milk state govt.

    didn't joop have his own 3 days?

    they use subpeonas in NJ so christie will eventually trip. he is much smarter than rounds, professionally. both share the same arrogance in being questioned and hiding evidence. tick-tock. they both have been trying to run out the clock.


  10. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.06

    This is a story that begs for Jan Stewart.

    Oh! The irony!

  11. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.06

    Not "Jan." "Jon!"

  12. WayneF 2015.02.06

    Of course ... legislators in a red, red state will oppose an ethics commission. It might limit their ability to conduct policy behind closed doors, even when they say publicly that they want "transparency" in state government. This resolution would be funny if it weren't so ironic and sad.

  13. Roger Elgersma 2015.02.06

    Not having written ethical standards or an ethics committee is unethical. Particularly in politics when the people in charge are there representing all of us. It is not like a business where we could go somewhere else. They have a monopoly on government whether it is one party or two and they should be accountable to all. Not to have an ethics committee is asking for corruption because it makes corruption easy.

  14. leslie 2015.02.07

    speaking of ethics, or lack thereof, Kristie Noem's selfie published on her last trip to the great wall, is with now infamous Rep Aaron Schock (R. Ill), "blood red decorator-gate" who just let go his senior aide for racist comments on social media (schock is the 1st to be elected to congress born in the 80s). Schock said afterwards that he would personally pay his decorators "free" services. he paid $5000 for a hardwood speaking podium!

    At 20 he served on the peoria board of ed, becoming president the last year, then on to the Ill. house for 3 years when he took Ray LaHood's republican house seat in congress. there ever since, UV political scientist larry sabato said "you can salute young people for public service but that doesn't mean you have to elect them to high office."2.6.15 chi trib

    how many speeding tickets did Kristie have?

Comments are closed.