Remember how last spring Attorney General Marty Jackley said the Legislature wasn’t going far enough to fight corruption? He’s at it again, calling for tougher penalties for new conflict-of-interest laws:
One of his criticisms of the 2015 conflict of interest legislation that covers state government employees was the penalty. He said it should be a felony. It currently is a misdemeanor.
That change is one of three points Jackley addressed in his letter to legislators.
He wants the words “direct” and “knowing” added to the law regarding conflicts of interest for persons overseeing state contracts and monies.
“It should be very specific,” he told legislators Tuesday.
Jackley also wants to require that discovery of theft, fraud and direct conflicts of interest be reported to his office. The law currently allows that information to be reported to the state auditor general, who is employed by the Legislature, or the attorney general.
His third point is violations involving “more serious conduct” or “significant amounts of money” should be punishable as felonies eligible for prison sentences rather than misdemeanors or with presumptive probation [Bob Mercer, “Jackley Asks for Felony Penalties on Conflict of Interest Violations,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2016.10.19].
Jackley’s statement is more political positioning against one of his potential rivals in the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Rep. G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls), who has sponsored the tepid, exemption-hobbled conflict-of-interest laws that the Legislature has passed in response to the EB-5 and GEAR UP scandals. It will be fun to watch the Republicans who have facilitated the corruption of one-party rule squabble about which of them is better equipped to fight corruption. I’d suggest to voters (in 2018 and right now!) that they can skip that debate and simply elect Democrats who aren’t responsible for the corruption the Republicans now need to say they are fighting.