The Government Operations and Audit Committee appears to have mostly wasted our time on GEAR UP and Mid-Central this week. In the various press about the meeting, I’m not reading any new testimony, explanations, or revelations beyond what I’ve been able to pull from the new documents provided to GOAC prior to this meeting. In a spectacular display of general disrespect for Legislative authority, none of the witnesses GOAC invited appear to have shown up at the committee’s hearing Thursday and Friday in Sioux Falls. Only former Office of Indian Education director and GEAR UP grant coordinator Roger Campbell made brief telephone contact, but he appears not to have deigned to mail a written response to GOAC’s invitation. While GOAC member Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) and nicely reimbursed GOAC spectator Rep. Elizabeth May (R-27/Kyle) are vowing to pursue GEAR UP/Mid-Central corruption in the State-Tribal Relations Committee, GOAC Chair Senator Deb Peters (R-9/Hartford) and others shrug off disrespect for GOAC as priority of criminal cases and want to (Dana Ferguson’s words) “let the debate die.”
In one howler from the meeting, GOAC says it wants public input on possible new laws to fight corruption:
South Dakota lawmakers looking into how more than $1 million went missing from a Platte educational cooperative’s bank account decided Friday they should seek ideas from the public for possible new laws.
The Government Operations and Audit Committee listed five potential measures on the agenda Friday at http://bit.ly/2yLGLjC. Staff for the Legislative Research Council and the Department of Legislative Audit could add more in the coming weeks.
Committee members chose Monday, Dec. 18, to take testimony at the Capitol [Bob Mercer, “Lawmakers Want Public’s Help to Thwart Future Scandals,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2017.10.07].
Seek ideas from the public—that’s rich! The public gave the Legislature a complete Anti-Corruption Act, Initiated Measure 22, last year in the general election, passed by a majority of South Dakota voters, and two weeks later, Senator Peters and 25 of her Legislative colleagues sued to block that law. And while in GOAC Senator Peters uses ongoing litigation as an excuse for GOAC not to press for answers or action, she and her Republican friends didn’t wait for the courts to settle their lawsuit: they plowed ahead when the 2017 Session started and voted to repeal IM 22. And now with the public trying to put a new version of the Anti-Corruption Act on the ballot in 2018, South Dakota Republicans are trying to sow distrust of initiatives and portraying the public’s efforts to put laws to a vote as dangerous “mad scientist” ideas.
The public has been offering ideas to fight corruption all along. The Republican leadership on GOAC and in the Legislature just doesn’t want to listen or act on the real corruption they have facilitated during forty years of one-party rule.