Former legislator Fred Deutsch responded to Dana Ferguson and Megan Raposa’s remarkable, well-sourced report on sexual harassment and the culture of sexism in our Capitol by whimpering about whether that Sioux Falls paper “will doing story on inappropriate behavior by women in pierre? [sic]” Ferguson offered to follow up, and, as we should have expected, Deutsch obliged with a story that completely misses the point:
Deutsch said he didn’t want to “diminish the importance of women speaking out,” but felt he needed to share a story in which he felt a female committee chair threatened him.
In 2016, Deutsch planned to present to the Senate Education Committee his bill aimed at blocking transgender students from using school restrooms that didn’t match their biological sex at birth. The committee’s chair, Sen. Deb Soholt, warned him that those testifying on the bill needed to keep their testimony constrained if he wanted the bill to reach the Senate floor.
“It was very clearly a threat,” Deutsch said.
Soholt, who voted in that committee hearing to advance the bill to the floor, has said she provided the warning to keep the meeting from getting out of hand [link added; Megan Raposa and Dana Ferguson, “Governor, Social Media Respond to Reports of Sexism, Harassment in Pierre,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.10.23].
Good grief, Fred.
- Senator Soholt did not grope you.
- Senator Soholt did not corner you after a lobbyist booze fest and rape you.
- Senator Soholt did not exercise her appropriate authority as committee chair in any way that humiliated or disadvantaged you because of your gender.
- Senator Soholt did nothing inappropriate… unless you are about to deem all of the hardball politics played by committee chairs to be inappropriate and open the door for every legislator peeved at the control committee chairs exercise. While I imagine Stace Nelson and a whole lot of Democrats will welcome your alliance with them in that discussion, that is a whole separate discussion from the important discussion of sexism and patriarchy from which you are baldly trying to distract.
I know it must grieve the director of South Dakota Right to Life to have a woman, even a good Republican woman like Senator Soholt, tell him what to do. But to equate Senator Soholt’s management of her committee with the multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault now dogging the Legislature offends all sensibility.