A couple weeks ago, longtime Republican one-man brain trust asked what other scandals there are besides EB-5 and GEAR UP in South Dakota. The former SDGOP chairman asked those of us complaining about corruption in Pierre “to specify what exactly, very specifically, has been done that’s unethical.”
O.K. Republican Representative Mathew Wollmann had sex with legislative interns, in 2015 and in 2016, one former intern says Representative Wollmann’s sexual misconduct was “common knowledge,” and Legislative leadership did nothing about it.
In case that’s not specific enough for you, Joel:
- Representative Wollmann had sex with people over whom he held enormous public power, which is unethical.
- Representative Wollmann had sex with interns, which his fellow Republican Representative David Lust said in committee last week violates Legislative Joint Rule 1B-1 on the maintenance of ethical standards.
- Representative Wollmann had sex with interns, which his fellow Republican and Senate Majority Leader R. Blake Curd said in committee last week is bad professional behavior and violates Legislative Joint Rule 1A-4 on sexual harassment.
- Representative Mathew Wollmann lied to intrepid KSFY reporter Bridget Bennett last night before caving in and admitting his unethical behavior. That lie is unethical; his about-face preface about working in film and creating a “character defining moment” for all history is fatuous self-aggrandizement.
- The Legislature—and even though they’re getting only one point in this list, this is the biggest point on the flow—it sounds as if the Legislature knew about Representative Wollmann’s unethical behavior for some portion of his first term in office. The Legislature’s failure to act upon allegations of improper sexual conduct by Representative Wollmann would prove that the Legislature cannot be trusted to enforce its own rules, police its own members, or protect young employees from the sexual advances of powerful politicians. That’s unethical and then some.
And remember: the legislators who took no action while Representative Wollmann violated the Joint Rules include many who moved quite swiftly to protect themselves from the creation of Initiated Measure 22’s ethics commission. Representative Wollmann and his Republican colleagues voted against creating an ethics commission in 2015. In 2015, Rep. G. Mark Mickelson called an ethics commission “unnecessary.” Then-Rep. Lee Schoenbeck called it “a bad idea whose time has passed.” Then-Rep. and Majority Leader Brian Gosch said the last ethics commission was used to besmirch reputations of some legislators.
Now I see Gosch’s point: why create a whole bureaucracy to besmirch legislators’ reputations when legislators can besmirch themselves quite well on their own?
The following legislators and other prominent Republicans put money in Wollmann’s campaign coffer in 2016, after his unethical behavior:
- Rep. G. Mark Mickelson: $250 personal, $1,000 PAC
- Regent Randy Schaefer: $250
- Pat Prostrollo: $500
- Then-Speaker of the House Dean Wink (the leader to whom any sexual harassment was to be reported): $100
- Then-Rep. Lee Schoenbeck: $1,500
- Governor Dennis Daugaard: $1,000
You asked for it, Joel. Your own Republican legislators have now delivered.
Related Reading: Even I thought Mathew was a promising candidate when he announced his first bid for Legislature in 2014.