It took Al Novstrup four tries to figure out that there ought to be a rule against legislators having sex with interns. My District 3 Senator voted against his fellow Republican Stace Nelson’s proposed rule twice in January. Then last week, well after the rest of us found out that Novstrup’s little buddy in the House Mathew Wollmann had spent much of his first term in office with interns under him, Novstrup voted in committee against an even stricter rule against sexual contact between legislators and interns.
It wasn’t until the penultimate day of Session that, presented with the “no sex with interns” rule as part of a package of new rules on sexual harassment, cell phone use, electronic introduction of bills, fiscal notes, and legislative deadlines did Novstrup join a unanimous Senate vote in favor of formally banning the conduct that provoked Wollmann’s resignation.
Bob Mercer is alarmed that Novstrup and other legislators made it so hard for Nelson to win this rule. He says Wollmann’s misconduct is far from isolated:
But this was hardly the first time. Several marriages have resulted in the past few decades from affairs involving legislators that occurred during legislative sessions. There was the ugly investigation involving a senator and a page a decade ago.
It took Nelson to finally get a straightforward ban in black and white. Admire him or detest him, he isn’t one to let something go.
He spent more than 20 years in military law enforcement. He is a U.S. Marine to his core and is proud of it.
Nelson said this was an opportunity to “correct massive holes” in the conduct code for the Legislature [Bob Mercer, “Sen. Stace Nelson Had to Battle to Get Code of Conduct Bill Passed,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.03.12].
In a Session where the Legislature exerted itself to whitewash its repeal of Initiated Measure 22 by creating the appearance of bipartisan concord on the need for ethics reforms, Senator Nelson still had to drag his colleagues to embrace banning what too many in Pierre have apparently viewed as a perk of serving in the Capitol. And Senator Novstrup’s final vote for that ban, lodged among several other rules, leaves us wondering if Novstrup really changed his mind from his three previous votes against banning sex with interns.