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Barth Defends Indian Voting Rights, Tells Jackson County to Surrender

Jeff Barth, Minnehaha County Commissioner
Jeff Barth, defender of Indian voting rights and taxpayer dollars

Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth digs Indian voting rights. He does not dig Jackson County’s effort to stifle Indian voting rights on Minnehaha County taxpayers’ dime. Commission Barth says Jackson County should stop burning up money from the statewide local government insurance pool to fight a Lakota lawsuit seeking a satellite early voting station in Wanblee:

Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth said “what’s going on is wasting the funds accrued by the assurance association, and that’s not good for Minnehaha County or Minnehaha County residents.”

“We need those funds to protect us, when we go to court on those kinds of issues, and the idea that someone would wantonly crash their car, or go into a lawsuit they are not going to win, and eventually going to have to pay out millions of dollars, it bothers me,” Barth said.

Barth believes what’s best for Minnehaha County could also be best for Jackson County.

“I’d like to see Jackson County stop their lawsuit, use federal funds to help Native Americans vote, there is no cost to Jackson County, to go ahead and do that,” Barth said [Mark Roper, “Absentee Ballot Lawsuit Could Cost Minnehaha County Taxpayers,” KSFY-TV, 2015.08.18].

Barth spoke up against the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance’s participation in an effort to shake down victorious Lakota plaintiffs in Brooks v. Gant, another Indian voting rights lawsuit. More county commissioners and other local officials around South Dakota should take up Barth’s call for Jackson County to pull the plug on its resistance to Indian voting rights, not just because it would save us all money, but because offering our Lakota neighbors equal access to the polls is the right thing to do.


  1. 96Tears 2015-08-19 09:38

    This isn’t another of my snarky digs but a serious question. Why is Jeff Barth the only county commissioner in South Dakota using his office appropriately to challenge his peers on the Jackson County Commission and the mismanagement of the public insurance program?

    This should be a calling for our Governor to step up and take action to stop the financial abuse of the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance and Jackson County Commission’s racist war against the half of the county’s population who are Native Americans.

  2. Rorschach 2015-08-19 11:56

    A leader not afraid to lead. Good job Mr. Barth.

    Now it’s ok for all of the overly cautious elected officials and the ones who don’t want to rock the Republican boat to quietly behind the scenes (because they’re too scared to do so publicly) ratchet up the pressure.

    This is why we need a viable two-party system. When everything is controlled by one party nobody is going to step up and call bull#$%^ when they see bull#$%*. Checks and balances are good for the public.

  3. John 2015-08-19 17:27

    Barth is spot-on. Where is the SD Association of County Commissioners screaming about the waste of money coming from Jackson County commissioners?! These fools are rhinos in name only.

    I hope this legal action drains the fund so that when it’s really needed the rhinos are forced to raise taxes.

  4. mike from iowa 2015-08-19 18:25

    No offense,but it would be nice to see Jeff Barth, or another pol, take the lead on voting rights instead of jumping in after Cory writes the story. I’m happy he feels the way he does,don’t get me wrong.

  5. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-19 19:48


  6. Roger Elgersma 2015-08-19 20:46

    Jeff is absolutely correct. Three reasons, Jackson county is extremely wrong on Indian rights, Jackson county is extremely wrong for wasting government money, and Jeff is correct for being against the system when the system is wrong. Not many leaders in South Dakota. When I testified on the shared parenting rights in the legislature the first time I had the most new information on that day. Not slighting all those who worked on it for years. The next hearing I was told be the same legislator that told me I had changed the mind of the Senate committee chair that I was to keep my mouth shut the next hearing. This state leadership(Republicans) think that no one should have an opinion because it should all be their ideas. Just like the blue ribbon task force telling people to back down now that they had a chance to say what they want. Speaking your mind in the legislature when they are wrong in this state gets stopped. That is why they changed the legislative lines to pit Kloucek against (sorry I can not remember his name but he was 6′ 6” and was a Republican legislator who would resist party leadership when they were wrong.) They were sure they could get rid of at least one person who would stand for what is right.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-19 23:01

    Mike, I’m willing to bet Jeff just hadn’t had the opportunity yet. Remember, he lived in South Africa. He knows discrimination when he sees it. He raised heck on this same issue in 2013. Focus your disappointment on all the other county officials who are remaining silent in the face of Jackson County’s voter suppression efforts.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-19 23:02

    (Roger, you’re thinking of Stace Nelson! How can you forget?!)

  9. 96Tears 2015-08-21 09:07

    This outrage still stands and days later, only Jeff Barth musters a protest. John is right about the state county governments’s association, and even if they won’t stand up against racism, at least they should speak up about the massive waste of public money.

    And the deadbeat governor is passing up an opportunity to launch a Year of Reconciliation campaign to unite our state against Jackson County Commission’s racist and wasteful actions.

    But what about us? Who says we, the people, can’t launch a Reconciliation Revisited effort to unite our state against raw, naked racism? Picket the Gunderson Palmer law office in Rapid City for fleecing a fortune from the state insurance program by perpetuating a racist agenda for their clients? Picket the S.D. County Commissioners Association office in Pierre for sitting on their hands and protecting racists. Call on county commissions in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Brookings, Aberdeen, Huron, Pierre, Rapid City, Yankton, Mitchell and Madison and petition them to join Reconciliation Revisited and stop the war on Native voters. Call on your church congregations and Dakota Rural Action and other community associations to join Reconciliation Revisited.

    Get the idea? We are not powerless.

  10. mike from iowa 2015-08-21 10:05

    Master.I wasn’t aware of Jeff’s history. I would focus disappointment on the others if I knew who they are. I meant no offense to anyone who doesn’t deserve it.

  11. Paul Seamans 2015-08-21 13:31

    There has been a group of concerned citizens that have been meeting in Rapid City on a regular basis and is discussing ways of bringing people together and trying to address the racism issue. The only way to defeat racism is for people to work together and get to know one another as friends.

    About four years ago various native grassroots organizations reached out to Dakota Rural Action in an effort to get us to work together to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. These alliances that have been formed have been very productive. DRA is working with these native groups on the racism problem also. DRA recognizes the importance of these alliances and has been working to strengthen them.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-22 20:28

    96, I’m curious: has anyone in South Dakota ever staged a protest in front of the office of the lawyers defending really nasty public officials?

  13. larry kurtz 2015-11-08 09:55

    Jeff Barth: call out your political party cowards and lead them from the wilderness!

  14. leslie 2015-11-08 11:59

    deb haddcock on the pennington county commission stood against the entire balance of the pennington county commissioners in their late, anti-name change formal action (harney). custer county commission, custer city council, and perhaps hill city took the same “racist/wasteful” action on “behalf” of constituents. i do not believe a majority of citizens are afraid of Indians.

    the best protest is to vote the bastards out. rock on jeff!

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