Democrats Point out Regental Nominees Violate Same-Party, Same-County Law

Bob Mercer faintly exaggerates the “long slide” of Democratic voter registration in South Dakota. We’re not surging, but according to the March 1 voter count from Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, we have 1.86% more voters than we did one year ago. Of course, over the same March to March, Republicans have 6.19% more voters, and indies have 10.57% more.

Mercer does get right the story that we stagnant Dems stirred a proper kerfuffle yesterday about the Governor’s illegal appointments to the Board of Regents:

As of 2:00 p.m. CST on March 6, 2017, Board of Regents members Harvey Jewett, Kathryn Johnson, Jim Morgan, Randy Schaefer, Bob Sutton, and Kevin Schieffer were registered Republicans, and John Bastian was a registered Independent. The appointees whose nominations were to be considered by the Senate today, Pam Roberts and Conrad Adam, were both registered Republicans. Terry Baloun and Joseph Schartz, the Board of Regents members Roberts and Adams would replace were both also registered Republicans [South Dakota Democratic Party, press release, 2017.03.06].

The Senate had to call off their confirmation vote for Roberts and Adam because SDCL 13-49-2 says you can’t have more than six Regents from the same political party. As a bonus, that statute also forbids having two regents from the same county, and appointees Roberts and Adam are both registered to vote in Hughes County.

Democrats naturally see these illegal appointments as part of a broader Republican arrogance:

South Dakota Republicans seem to think they are above the law, whether it be repealing voter-backed measures months after being supported at the ballot box or by stacking state boards with Republicans in violation of state law [SDDP, 2017.03.06].

Mercer more gently notes the merits of a functioning two-party system:

The system worked in this instance. The minority party pointed out an abuse favoring the majority party. The Senate used its confirmation authority to block two illegal appointments by the governor. It’s a good example of why two relevant political parties are important and why process matters [Bob Mercer, “On Regents Matter, Democrats Show Why Two Political Parties Are Important,” Pure Pierre Politics, 2017.03.07].

The Senate bumped the Roberts and Adam nominations to today’s calendar. According to Mercer, the Governor’s office is contending that the residency requirement doesn’t apply to the student Regent for which Adam is nominated. The Governor’s office also reports that Regent Kathryn Johnson was a Democrat when appointed a decade ago, switched to GOP last year, and switched back yesterday afternoon when this complication came to light.

14 Responses to Democrats Point out Regental Nominees Violate Same-Party, Same-County Law

  1. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    This is very telling in many ways, isn’t it? It is just further proof as to why the Republicans in Pierre were against IM22 from day one. Because the thought of Democrats on an ethics committee with actual teeth or having university presidents appointing members to such a committee was just not going to happen, was it?

  2. Bob Mercer


    Take a longer view back to 2008 and you’ll see the long slide. Like it or not the facts aren’t on your side on this point.

  3. Bob Mercer


    Take a longer view back to 2008 and you’ll see the long slide. Like it or not the facts aren’t on your side on this point.

  4. Bob Mercer


    Take a longer view back to 2008 and you’ll see the long slide. Like it or not the facts aren’t on your side on this point.

  5. Robert McTaggart


    Would you take a look back to 2008 already :^).

  6. Roger Cornelius

    Stutter much, Bob?

  7. Which of the placeholder bills can the GOP Party hoghouse to amend SDCL 13-49-2 to say that no more than 8 of the 9 regents can be from the same political party, and that no more than 4 can be from the same county? (You know they want at least 2 more from Hughes County – because it’s all inbred up there and there are more family members demanding nepotism).

    The GOP Party has demonstrated that legal requirements are all a farse. They will just have one of their GOP appointees re-register as non-GOP for show. And public – forget about the student regent – the laws don’t apply to that nepotism recipient.

  8. Darin Larson

    So, they have been operating in violation of the law since some time last year?

    Is someone verifying that the student Regent is not subject to the rule?

  9. The governor is on thin ice claiming that the limits on one regent per county and a cap of 6 GOP Party regents don’t apply to the student regent.

    SDCL 13-49-6.1 says the student regent is a “formal” member of the board who votes like any other member and is compensated like any other member. (How much do they get compensated – there is no law setting compensation for regents in SDCL Ch. 13-49?). The only difference is the term of the appointment and the requirement that the student regent be a student.

    SDCL 13-49-2 applies the political party cap and the one-per-county cap to “regular” members of the board. “Regular” member is not defined anywhere, but the fact that the student member is a “formal” member with all the rights and privileges of anyone else indicates that the student member has all of the trappings of a “regular” member – to whom the political party and county caps apply. And the terms “regular” and “formal” are arguably synonyms. There are no “informal” members of the board.

    The governor would likely lose his argument if someone challenged him in court.

  10. Why Mr. Rorschach, ol’ grudz can tell you they get $75 a day. More than minimum wage.

  11. Bob told me he was still having some short-term memory issues. Maybe they are more serious than I realized.

  12. David Newquist

    The stacking of the Regents with political lackeys has gone on for a long time and faculty were taught that pointing it out affects promotion, tenure, and wage decisions. The universities have suffered such regental schemes such as the International Business Institute which hatched and incubated the EB-5 scandal and explains why so many administrators from universities were involved in assisting with the Gear-Up rip off. Janklow started the trend when he purged the Regents of anyone with professional experience in education. With them, it’s all business and the corruption available through business.

  13. Please excuse Bob’s stutter—I suspect it has more to do with my balky server than any overly exuberant triple clicks on his part.

    I do look back longingly to 2008 (and our SDDP registration peak in July 2009 of 206,086). We’re down 17.5% since then, 36,000 voters, and that long and significant slide stinks.

    Perhaps I should clarify that Bob’s faint exaggeration lies in the verb in his opening sentence: “continued.” We bottomed out in March last year, then increased our registration—not by spectacular amounts, and by lower percentages than other parties, but our “slide” did not “continue” through 2016. We have declined again since election day, but only by 0.37%. At the moment, I’d contend our “long slide” is on hold. I take no solace in that hold—only registration gains beating our opponents’ gains mark success—but I take faint relief in seeing that we’re at least not racing down the hill.

  14. Johnson’s “oversight”seems disingenuine, at best since the Sanders – HRC primary was a big deal among real democrats – that she’d switch parties to vote in the R-primary. Looks like a DINO . . . .