The state’s trial of marijuana entrepreneur Eric Hagen for his involvement in the aborted Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s pot palace completed its second day Monday in Flandreau. The prosecution shows a couple signs of faltering.
Third, the state’s star witness, Eric Hagen’s business partner Jonathan Hunt, said that his plea deal was just “a natural risk assessment” and that neither he nor Hagen is guilty:
And while Hunt detailed Hagen’s involvement and provided inside information, his testimony was far from the smoking gun the prosecution was looking for. In fact, once on the stand Hunt categorically denied his own and Hagen’s guilt on all charges.
After months of speculation about the details of his deal with the state prosecutor, Hunt explained on Monday that he pleaded to the lesser charges only due to a lack of “financial wherewithal” to mount a legal defense.
As part of his direct examination by the prosecution, Hunt said that the state’s decision to charge him left him “flabbergasted.” When asked on cross examination if he was guilty of conspiracy to possess marijuana, Hunt categorically denied any direct guilt.
“To take the deal, you had to agree to the deal,” Hunt told prosecuting attorney Katie Mallery. “I agreed to tell you guys because, just like I’ve said a hundred times, I’m not afraid of the truth” [“Santee Sioux Trial, Day Two: Ex-Partner Denies Hagen’s Guilt,” Arizona Medical Marijuana Clinics, 2017.05.23].
Kristi Noem, be ready to pounce. Your GOP primary opponent may be about to come out on the short end of another high-profile case.
Butina asks about American sanctions on Russia that are “damaging” both countries. Trump says, “I know Putin, and I’ll tell you what: we get along with Putin…. I don’t think you’d need the sanctions. I think that we would get along very, very well.”
In September 2010, Erickson organized another business from that same 305 office at 4904 Oxbow, Investing with Dignity LLC. He must have gotten distracted with the Romney campaign and other projects, since after 2012, he failed to file his annual reports, until Secretary of State Shantel Krebs dissolved his corporation in April 2015. Erickson got Investing with Dignity LLC reinstated in 2016.
Butina posted these photos publicly on Facebook on May 13, 2015. However, the banner lists the 2013 sponsors. If you zoom into the classroom picture, just over the grey-sweatshirted student, the red ink by his head appears to refer to a semester test taking place “Fri May 15”, and May 15 was a Friday in 2015. The green ink on the board reads “Paul Erickson Investing with Dignity LLC.”
Butina’s acquaintance with Erickson precedes these 2015 events. On November 1, 2013, the day before she posted the picture of herself with David Keene in Moscow, she posted a photo of herself with Erickson:
I can’t get this photo any bigger, but at the center of the back row, that looks like TAR camp leader, now U.S. House candidate, Dusty Johnson.
I’m betting Dusty is taking this photo… and hey! look to the far right of this photo. There on the back bench in those star-spangled shorts is, I’m pretty sure, TAR camp advisor, then-freshman, now-resigned state legislator Mathew Wollmann.
And who’s holding up that world map for Butina? That hairline looks much like that of Paul Erickson.
I’m not positing any grand conspiracy; I’m just having a lot of fun playing the Two Degrees of South Dakota Separation. In Maria Butina, we appear to have someone who can bring together Mathew Wollmann, the South Dakota Teenage Republican campers, Steve Sibson, and Paul Erickson and connect them all to the National Rifle Association and one practical rubles-and-kopecks reason some Russians wanted Trump to become President.
That statement was technically true on October 28, the date our pre-general campaign finance reports were due. However, with year-end campaign finance reports now in, we can see that Novstrup’s claim of frugality was a figment of delayed reporting. Novstrup raised nearly $30K for his campaign and spent over $28K; his Democratic challenger raised nearly $21K and spent nearly $20K:
Note also that Novstrup’s pre-general and year-end reports list $8,734.14 in “in-kind contributions” from the South Dakota Republican Party in the form of postcards. Those would be the four waves of negative attack postcards the SDGOP sent to District 3 in October. Novstrup’s year-end report shows that he made an $8,000 contribution to the South Dakota Republican Party… which means that he paid for most of those postcards.
Novstrup’s campaign made only one other contribution to any political committee in 2016, and alas, that money went for naught:
Novstrup’s $110 contribution to Wollmann must signal that Novstrup knew nothing about Wollmann’s sex with interns in the House, because surely if a legislator had known anything about such unethical behavior, that legislator would not have financially supported such a disgrace to the institution.
Perhaps sensing that this embarrassment may make legislators more persuadable, Senator Nelson is proposing a far tougher rule that not only makes explicit the seemingly obvious notion that legislators shouldn’t boink the help but also dictates reporting and punishment:
1B-3.1 Sexual contact prohibited. No legislator or legislative employee may have sexual contact with any legislative intern or page, and no legislative intern may have sexual contact with a page. Any violation shall be reported within 24 hours of violation or knowledge, as follows:
For a member of the Senate, a written report to the Senate President Pro Tempore, Majority Leader, & Minority Leader;
For a member of the House of Representatives, a written report to the Speaker, Majority Leader, & Minority Leader;
For a Legislative Research Council employee, a written report to the Director of the Legislative Research Council and the Executive Committee of the Executive Board;
For an employee or legislative intern of the Senate, a written report to the Senate President ProTempore, Majority Leader, & Minority Leader, and the Director of the Legislative Research Council; and
For an employee or legislative intern of the House of Representatives, a written report to the Speaker, Majority Leader, & Minority Leader, and the Director of the Legislative Research Council.
If a select committee on discipline and expulsion determines a member violated this section, it shall recommend expulsion of the member in its committee report and the intern or page shall be dismissed from service [Senator Stace Nelson, proposed rule change, obtained by Dakota Free Press 2017.01.26].
Senator Nelson has dropped the spouse/fiancé exception he included earlier as a favor to happily engaged Wollmann and his intern fiancée (not to mention a concession to pre-martial fornication, remarkable for a family-values Christian conservative like Nelson). Nelson’s rule additionally clarifies that interns shall also keep their hands and other parts off the pages. Nelson’s rule now mandates that anyone who finds out about such sexual contact notify specific Legislative leaders within 24 hours. Nelson would strip the committee investigating violations of any leeway in recommended punishment: expulsion is the sole punishment for legislators. Nelson also wants interns and pages involved in sexual contact dismissed.
Legislators may balk requiring such a strict reporting deadline and at tying the investigating committee’s hands in recommending punishment. The intern/page-dismissal clause is also unclear: I can see dismissing any legislator or intern who boinks down the chain of command. I can see dismissing anyone—legislator, intern, or page—who freely consents to such unethical conduct. But should an intern or page subjected to unwanted sexual contact be dismissed? That’s how Nelson’s draft rule reads now, and that seems unfair.
Nonetheless, if Joint Legislative Procedure takes up this rule, we will witness an interesting test of ethics, personalities, and power. Mainstream Republicans hated Nelson before this Session. Some GOP leaders probably hate him more for blowing the whistle on their apparent effort to cover up Wollmann’s misconduct. Some Democrats may even be torqued at Nelson for pressing this issue and distracting us from other important policy battles. During Nelson’s previous terms in the House, legislators reveled in opportunities to kill Nelson’s bills.
I am glad Senator Nelson is willing to fight for the obvious recognition that the State Capitol is no place for sex. Now if I can just get him to recognize that the State Capitol is no place for guns….
Senate State Affairs kept the “Repeal the Will of the Voters!” train rolling today, voting 7–2 (Republicans, including my District 3 Senator Al Novstrup, all aye, Democrats Billie Sutton and Troy Heinert nay) to send House Bill 1069, repeal of the Anti-Corruption Act, to the full Senate. The Senate convenes at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday); HB 1069 is scheduled for a vote tomorrow.
We knew back in November, when the Koch Brothers failed to defeat IM 22 at the polls and Republican leaders went to court, that the South Dakota Republican Party would use every tool at its disposal to erase the Anti-Corruption Act and protect themselves (again) from the scrutiny of a state ethics commission.
We did not know in November that the paucity of ethics in Pierre would be laid bare by Mathew Wollmann’s sex scandal. In a live interview with conservative KELO Radio host Greg Belfrage this morning, Republican Senator Stace Nelson laid out what he knows about Republican leaders’ efforts to cover up former Representative Mathew Wollmann’s persistent sexual misconduct with several Legislative interns during both years of his first term in office.
Note that Senator Nelson’s comments are all hearsay. But this is a sitting Senator publicly saying what he has heard from interns and legislators.
Senator Nelson said that he first learned about Wollmann’s misconduct from conservative legislators last summer, after his primary victory. Nelson said he heard from interns after the Joint Rules Committee rejected the sexual-contact prohibition he proposed two weeks ago.
Nelson said legislators and interns told him that in 2015, several legislators became aware of Wollmann’s having sexual contact with several interns. Upset with “being played,” some interns complained to legislators that Wollmann was making them uncomfortable. Nelson said many legislators observed Wollmann spending an inordinate amount of time around interns and pages.
Nelson told Belfrage that in 2015, Senator Brock Greenfield raised concerns about Wollmann to then-Speaker Dean Wink and told him not to blow the issue off. Wink’s own words suggest he did blow it off after a simple denial from Wollmann. Nelson says Greenfield was able to get action from Dusty Johnson, who viewed Wollmann’s behavior as reason to remove Wollmann from any official contact with the Teenage Republican group that Johnson ran.
Nelson said Wollmann’s behavior continued in 2016 and was common knowledge among many legislators. Just how common? “I have not met one former House member from 2015 to 2016,” said Nelson, “who said that they were unaware of this….”
Senator Nelson claimed in this morning’s interview that Wollmann’s “limited confession” on KSFY on January 18 “is not the whole truth.” Nelson said Wollmann had sexual contact with more than one intern in 2015 and one other in 2016. Nelson said two interns reported to him that Wollmann knowingly provided alcohol to an underage person on at least one occasion and may have had sexual contact with an intern who was not legally capable of consenting. Nelson said he forwarded that information to the Attorney General.
Belfrage interjected the central observation of this entire scandal:
The bigger issue for me through all of this as I’m hearing you is that lawmakers legislators are aware of these kinds of things and they’re doing nothing. I’ve got to tell you, that just frosts me beyond belief [Greg Belfrage, while interviewing Senator Stace Nelson, KELO Radio, 2017.01.25]
Nelson concurred, noting a “vacuum of leadership” among members of the 2015–2016 Legislature and, to some extent, this year’s Legislature. “A lot of these people condoned it and facilitated it by looking the other way or joking about it, which made it even worse…. These young kids don’t come up here to be targets of someone’s romantic escapades. They come up here to serve their state.”
Nelson said some interns are still struggling to deal with what Wollmann did. Interns Nelson has heard from remain “disgusted and distraught.”
Belfrage added, “And so am I.” Later Belfrage said, “The more I listen to you this morning, it really seems like lawmakers have almost fostered a very permissive… sexual atmosphere in Pierre.”
Nelson said folks in his conservative district agree the Legislature must change. “The problem that is even worse,” said Nelson, “is that the people we send up here that are supposed to have the moral courage to address these problems within our laws didn’t have the moral courage to even police one of their own when it was happening.”
This conversation between Nelson and Belfrage shows the real ethics problem in Pierre. Republican legislators mobilized immediately in court and in this Session to repeal the people’s effort to check Legislative corruption. Yet Republican legislators waited two years to act against a legislator’s obvious, unethical conduct toward the most vulnerable members of their organization.
…Wiese will be sworn in as a state representative on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
“I thank Marli Wiese for agreeing, on short notice, to accept this appointment,” said Gov. Daugaard. “I know she will be an effective advocate for her district and our state.”
Wiese is a lifelong resident of the Madison area. She is a graduate of Madison High School and Nettleton Commercial College. Wiese and her husband, Reggie, have operated their family farm since 1976. The Wieses have three children and ten grandchildren.
“Representing District 8 and South Dakota is an honor,” said Wiese. “I want to Thank Gov. Daugaard for his confidence in me and look forward to beginning my duties in Pierre.”
In addition to operating their farm, Wiese works part-time as a transcriptionist and at her church, West Center Baptist Church. She serves on the board of the Madison Central School Education Foundation, is vice chair of the Lake County Republican Party and is a member of PEO [Governor’s office, press release, 2017.01.25].
Folks who think that action ended the South Dakota Legislature’s sex scandal should tune in to The Greg Belfrage Show on KELO Radio tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 8:05 a.m., when Belfrage will interview Senator Stace Nelson about who knew what when.
For the attention of the AG and for the record with House leadership, the following information is provided as written documentation of information already passed to several of you in person which I received from former interns who served in the House in 2015.
Two former interns reported the suspect legislator in fact knowingly gave alcoholic beverages to a known minor in 2015 on at least one occasion. One intern reported that he allegedly engaged in kissing and fondling of an intern, allegedly in front of at least one other, who was so intoxicated the intern opined the young intern may not have been sober enough to consent to the contact. To be clear, interns identified 2 interns he (the legislator) had consensual sexual intercourse with in 2015, another different one he groped while she was extremely intoxicated, and another one that he sexually harassed and outraged when he was caught trying to “get with” multiple pages. The interns indicated he was texting them constantly through out (sic) the day trying to “get with” the female interns.
Several House leadership members confirmed that written complaints were received by House leadership members, last year, allegedly alluding to the sexual contact with interns and pages , (sic) and when the one intern was extremely intoxicated. . . [Senator Stace Nelson, e-mail to Legislative leaders, Attorney General Marty Jackley, and LRC Director Jason Hancock, 2017.01.19; in Todd Epp, “Legislators Likely Knew in 2015 That a Member Was Having Sex with Interns,” KELO.com, 2017.01.24].
Just after Wollmann’s announcement, KSFY News spoke with Former House Speaker, Dean Wink, who had been out of state for the last week. Wink told KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh that he became aware of Wollmann’s relationships with interns back in 2015, after receiving an unsigned letter that appeared to have come from an intern.
Wink says he confronted Wollmann then, but the former legislator denied the allegations. The former House Speaker said he believed him, despite the whispers that resurfaced again near the end of the 2016 session.
“I asked Rep. Wollmann to come to my office and discuss the content of the letter, and [we] agreed that dating interns is completely inappropriate and out of bounds for all the obvious reasons,” Wink explained.
Reporter(s) stated they have been working on this for an extended period of time based off of complaints they received last year which they discussed with leadership (NFI). TV news reporter explicitly told me to relay to a legislator whom she believed made a misstatement of fact in describing the timeframe he became aware of this misconduct, that the suspect legislator of this misconduct “lied” when confronted, and only confessed to (limited aspects) the misconduct when she advised him that she was in possession of a taped interview with a former intern. It is my understanding that interview is extensive, confirms everything contained herein, and much more [Senator Stace Nelson, e-mail to Legislature and A.G. Jackley, 2017.01.20].
Wollmann’s lie, followed by his fatuous observation about his experience in film-making, already cast his confession in a bad light. If the information about the taped intern interview is true, then it appears all the clearer that Wollmann was ready to keep lying, as former Speaker Dean Wink claims Wollmann did when confronted about accusations of sexual misconduct in 2015, until faced with the cold hard fact that someone had finally spoken up to stop him.
Finally, correspondence between Senator Nelson and House Speaker G. Mark Mickelson indicate the nature of the deeper scandal here, the possibility that Republican leaders did not adhere to their own rules in handling Wollmann’s misconduct. Senator Nelson apparently shared accusations about Wollmann’s misconduct with Speaker Mickelson prior to the airing of Wollmann’s confession on KSFY. Speaker Mickelson responded with this letter on Tuesday, January 17, the day before the Wollmann story went public:
Senator Nelson responded by e-mail Wednesday morning, seven hours before KSFY posted the Wollmann story:
I am in receipt of your request which runs directly contrary to the explicit provisions of the Joint Rules of the SD Legislature. I am forwarding you LRC’s official response of how these allegations were supposed to be handled when they were first brought forward to House leadership over the last two years, and how they must be followed now.
It greatly concerns me that you are purposely inserting yourself into a situation in which you have such an obvious conflict of interest which would clearly require you to recuse yourself.
#1 Legislative rules required all legislators aware of this misconduct to report it. Reports from legislators expressly indicate that leadership received timely complaints over the last two years, and did not follow the Joint Rules in handling the complaints that they received. In doing so, they themselves violated the ethical standards and requirements of our legislative rules.
Your request is duly inappropriate in that it violates the due process rights of the accused explicit in the requirements of our Joint Rules; it inappropriately attempts to assume authorities not granted you by statutes or rules and it clearly subverts the authority of your fellow House members who collectively share the responsibility to investigate this reported misconduct under the Joint Rules of the SD Legislature; AND, it violates the due process rights of the victims of this misconduct who deserve(d) to have this misconduct thoroughly and impartially addressed in a timely fashion required under our Joint Rules.
…In closing, I have been told by more than one person that House leadership stated that Nelson made all of this up and brought the rules change as a vendetta to harass the suspect legislator and his fiancé. That comment, in light of the above information, convinces me that this is an extension of the efforts to cover this matter up and protect the legislator your own colleagues have called a “sexual predator” [link added; Senator Stace Nelson, e-mail to Speaker G. Mark Mickelson, 2017.01.18].
House Majority Leader Lee Qualm brought his motion that afternoon to convene a Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion. Speaker Mickelson named the nine members of the committee the next day.
In another case of not knowing how to say what needs to be said and then shut up, the disgraced legislator couldn’t simply apologize and leave. Instead, he expanded what could have been a 100-word letter into a 400-word fluffball that concludes with his declaration of intent to run for Legislature again.
Here is the text of Wollmann’s letter of resignation, submitted to Speaker of the House G. Mark Mickelson and made public this morning. I bold the necessary text and italicize the phrases that a guy whose sexual promiscuity got him into this jam ought not say:
Speaker G. Mark Mickelson,
I want to take this moment to write to you personally and share with you some important thoughts and news. I cannot express enough how fortunate it has been to serve South Dakota in the House of Representatives these past two years. It was also a magnificent honor to be re-elected this past November. I have built friendships with countless individuals from across the state, and have had the privilege to truly see the greatest South Dakota has to offer, and what we can improve on.
But no matter what successes a man or woman achieves, it is their failures that they remember the most. Human beings unlike any other animal on this planet are constantly reminded of their shortcomings, and pay for them two-fold. I do not condone what I have done. I have embarrassed this institution that I care so deeply for, my party, my family, my friends, and myself.
This past weekend I have put much thought into what these coming weeks would entail. I know that we as a legislative body have again many important decisions to make. Countless hours of consideration and caution will go into these determinations. I also know that although I feel extraordinarily better for coming forward and telling what is the absolute truth of the matter, that the trust of the people isn’t with me one-hundred percent as I wish it was, and that my thoughts and energy are not directed immediately to those important issues. I am without the focus I desire.
It is with a heavy heart, that I have decided that in the best interests of this body, this institution, and my constituents, that effective immediately Monday January 23rd 2017, I resign as a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives.
I have nothing but the greatest respect for those that I have grown so close to these past two years, and even in these early days of the 92nd legislative session. Those that read this should know that it is my wrongdoing that has put this institution in a sour light. Those responsible for me have displayed nothing but the highest honor for this establishment.
Again, I cannot express deeply enough how regretful I am of my actions.I hope to someday regain your trust and to return to this honorable body a man of greater knowledge.
I’m not going to spend all day revising Wollmann’s puffy verbage, simply because it takes me ten seconds to figure out all he really needed to say:
I screwed up. I screwed subordinates. That’s wrong. I’m sorry. I resign.
Everything else is superfluous at best, tone-deaf and self-serving at worst. Is the moment a legislator declares (he declares, so let’s drop any talk about “allegations”) he is ethically unfit to serve in public office is really the moment for him to ask us to elect him to public office again someday?
Wollmann says he has “nothing but the greatest respect” for those he has “grown close to” over the last two years… but the greatest respect, as preached by his fellow conservative, “family values” Republicans, would have meant not having sex with any of those people, not to mention more than one of those people, until he married them. I don’t have to wade that far into the theocracy to conclude that the “greatest respect” for the Legislature means not violating the Legislature’s rules of conduct by seeking sex from multiple members of the least empowered class of employees in the Legislature.
In response, Speaker Mickelson, Majority Leader Lee Qualm, and Minority Leader Spencer Hawley issued this press release:
State Representative Mathew Wollman tendered his resignation from the South Dakota House of Representatives today. He decided this was best for him, his fiancé, his family and the young ladies involved.
The South Dakota State Legislature, like any other organization, is comprised of human beings. Consequently, we will experience human failure and imperfection. Every legislator has an obligation to refrain from behavior unbecoming to the Legislature and inconsistent with maintaining the public’s trust.
We will be meeting over the coming weeks with legislators, current interns and legislative staff to discuss any improvements we can make in the legislator and employee training concerning appropriate standards of conduct and the proper reporting of potential violations of these standards of conduct as well as any recommended updates to our legislative rules.
To all our past, current and future interns:
Your service is appreciated. Our doors, phones and emails are always open for any thoughts or concerns you may have [South Dakota House Leadership, press release, posted by KSFY, 2017.01.23].
This press release reminds us that Wollmann’s conduct involved multiple interns (all female, apparently). It implies that Wollmann really did violate the Joint Rules listed in the letter inviting testimony before the House Select Committee named to investigate Wollmann.
Wollmann’s resignation renders the House Select Committee’s initial mission moot: Wollmann is not a legislator, so he’s no longer subject to their rules or punishment. That may actually be a productive mooting, since now it clears the decks for the Legislature to investigate the bigger question of who among Legislative leaders knew what when about Wollmann’s misconduct. Senate Pro-Tem Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) has said he reported concerns about Wollmann’s behavior to House Speaker Dean Wink in 2015. An intern has told the press that Wollmann’s sexual misconduct was common knowledge during his two-year term. If House leaders knew about Wollmann’s sexual misconduct and took no action during 2015 or 2016, they have done more to damage public trust in the Legislature by closing their eyes than Wollmann did by unzipping his pants.
Director Hancock notes that the committee may require witnesses to testify under oath and must give Representative Wollmann “the opportunity to confront and to question witnesses called by the committee.”
Legislative interns have unavoidable career interests which they hope to advance through their internship. Politicians in Pierre clearly recognize interns as their party’s farm team and look for talent to groom for jobs in Pierre, candidacies, or other leadership opportunities. This relationship is exactly why Representative Wollmann’s misconduct is not just young buckery but a pattern of predatory behavior that took advantage of his position of power. The interns’ aspirations are also why interns have thus far hesitated to come forward in a public forum to call out Rep. Wollmann’s misconduct, as they know Wollmann’s allies may well punish them politically for challenging both a rising party member and political leaders who apparently did not take action to stop that party member’s misconduct.
Recognizing that terribly uncomfortable position, Director Hancock writes that committee chairman Rep. Timothy Johns, a respected former circuit court judge, does not intend to require anyone to testify who does not want to take that risk. Hancock says Chairman Johns also intends “to keep the names of any interns that may have had sexual contact with Rep. Wollmann from appearing in any public forum or record, if they do not wish to testify.”
But if enough interns do speak up, if they stake their claims in public, perhaps they can use the publicity of the hearing to insulate themselves from retribution. And if some Republicans do try to stick with Wollmann and punish those who have brought out the uncomfortable facts about his misconduct and the leadership’s moral laxity, they may find themselves in a minority, against a coalition of Republicans and Democrats with conscience, and no longer in a position of power from which to issue retribution for decency or rewards for silence.
House Majority Leader Lee Qualm says he called for an investigation of fellow Republican Representative Mathew Wollmann’s sexual misconduct after Wollmann brought the matter to his attention “in recent days“:
House Majority Leader Lee Qualm said on the House floor that Wollmann told him he had consensual sexual contact with an intern in 2015 and 2016.
…Wollmann said he decided to come forward after he was approached Tuesday by a television station and asked about the situation. Qualm said Wollmann discussed the issue with him and in the House Republican caucus.
But leadership may have known about Wollmann’s troubles well before Wollmann’s confession and the media eruption therearound. Senator Stace Nelson has released to the press an e-mail that he sent to the Legislative Research Council on November 25, 2016, inquiring about sexually predatory conduct by a sitting legislator:
#1 Are there still positions open? Was the notice sent out to all our schools?
#2 I am concerned about reports that a sitting legislator has been sexually preying on page/interns. It was my understanding that such misconduct was an explicit violation of legislator ethical Conduct. What has been done to rectify this disgraceful misconduct and what are the liabilities for SD and legislators for these past acts? For future violations?
S. Nelson [released to the press by Senator Stace Nelson, 2017.01.19]
Senator Nelson refers to “reports,” plural, indicating he had heard about sexual misconduct in the Legislature from multiple sources. Yet even with this information circulating about violations of the Joint Rules on ethical conduct and sexual harassment, House leaders seated Representative Wollmann in on January 10.
We may imagine a few logical scenarios:
Neither the rumors nor Senator Nelson’s e-mail to LRC reached Majority Leader Qualm or the rest of leadership, and they really knew nothing of Representative Wollmann’s improper conduct until after seating him.
Qualm and leadership heard about Wollmann’s improper conduct, received his assurances that his predatory days were over, and decided to seat Wollmann without pursuing any formal investigation or action under the rules. (Side note: was Wollmann’s December 22 proposal to his fiancée at the Capitol a shotgun engagement pushed by GOP leadership to prove he was off the market and thus not a threat to 2017’s interns and pages?)
Qualm and leadership ignored the rumors and the rules and took no action to protect young legislative staff from further sexual predations.
This committee must decide the proper punishment for Wollmann, but it has an even more important obligation to determine who knew what when and whether Legislative leadership properly acted on information of improper conduct and enforced its rules to protect young staffers from abuses of power.
Update 07:38 CST: KELO Radio’s Todd Epp says Senator Nelson’s November 25, 2016, e-mail to LRC may signal that the Fulton Senator has the “smoking gun” in this Legislative sex scandal.