Bring out the long knives! Armed with the Annette Bosworth felony precedent, petition signers are accusing Rep. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) of committing the same crime in 2012 of failing to witness signatures on petitions that he signed as circulator.
The evidence against Hickey reported by Jonathan Ellis is more nebulous than the evidence that condemned Bosworth. Evidently Hickey’s second 2012 nominating petition (Secretary of State Jason Gant threw out Hickey’s first 2012 petition for citing the “June 2012” primary instead of “June 5, 2012”) included sheets circulated by fellow Republicans Senator Deb Peters and then-Rep. Bob Deelstra. Peters and Deesltra did not comment for Ellis’s story, but someone apparently told Ellis that Hickey signed those sheets as circulator. We don’t know who that someone is, and Ellis hasn’t placed the documents in front of us yet.
Ellis calls into question signatures reportedly gathered on March 20, 2012, after a Hartford City Council meeting. He cites various witnesses:
- Council Mark Monahan says he signed a petition sheet circulated by fellow councilman Deelstra and has never met Steve Hickey.
- City administrator Teresa Sidel says she has never seen Hickey at a city council meeting.
- Former councilor Leah Johnson signed the petition sheet after Deelstra, says she has met Hickey, but says she does not recall signing a petition for Hickey.
- Former councilor Eric Bartmann doesn’t recall signing a Hickey petition.
- Hartford Area Development Council member Terry Hagen signed Hickey’s petition, recalls meeting Hickey in other contexts, but doesn’t recall signing a petition circulated by Hickey.
If I’m preparing the prosecution, I read #1 as my lead witness. I read #2–5 as follow-ups who could be witnesses. But to make an ironclad case like the one against Bosworth, I need…
- Hickey to admit that he was out of the country when his petition was circulated, as Bosworth did multiple times;
- Hickey to admit he did not witness the signatures in question multiple times, as Bosworth did multiple times but as Hickey does not in either the Ellis story or his online response to that story;
- External evidence to prove that Hickey was not in Hartford or any other locale where his petition signers were on the date they signed the petition, as the DCI chief Bryan Gortmaker was able to produce from Bosworth’s online postings, IP records, and passport information.
The possibility that Rep. Hickey committed petition perjury is all the juicier given that he challenged Bosworth’s petition and her moral character for falsifying her circulator’s oath, among a wealth of other ills. If convicted of perjury, Article 3 Section 4 of the South Dakota Constitution would disqualify Rep. Hickey from the Legislature. He could still circulate petitions for his pending initiated ballot measure to cap interest rates; state law does not exclude perjurers from circulating petitions, only (unsupervised!) sex offenders.
If Hickey committed a crime, then the Attorney General should prosecute. If the Bosworth conviction unearths a rash of corruption in our electoral system, then we will have all the more proof that investigating and convicting Annette Bosworth of her felony perjury was worth the effort.
Update 11:30 CDT: Below are scans of the two petition sheets in question (click each to embiggen!):
The signers quoted in the Ellis story (Monahan, Johnson, Bartmann, and Hagen) appear on the front of the sheet (1A, as labeled above) on which Bob Deelstra was the first signer. Deb Peters is the first signer of the second sheet.
Update 12:12 CDT: KELO-AM’s Greg Belfrage cites his interview with Steve Hickey last year (April 16, 2014, the show that provoked Bosworth’s public self-incrimination) and says Hickey will “have a hard time explaining himself considering his brutal condemnations of Bosworth.”