Republican Secretary of State Shantel Krebs previews (pre-empts?) the campaign message you’ll hear from South Dakota Democrats in every campaign in 2016:
“I’d heard from bankers, I’d heard from individuals, constituents, saying there’s something going on, something needs to happen and that’s the first order of business. There needs to be some accountability here and there needs to be oversight and transparency,” Krebs said [Angela Kennecke, “Gant Admits to ‘Mistakes’ While in Office,” KELO-TV, 2015.10.29].
Secretary Krebs is discussing the errors revealed in an Auditor General’s investigation of the mess her predecessor Jason Gant made in the office, including leaving a bank account over $43,000 short of what the in-house books said, losing three iPad Minis out of thirty purchased for his over-hyped military voting program, misappropriating tens of thousands of federal Help America Vote Act dollars, failing his statutory duty to print a legislative manual, and letting an employee walk off with a historic state flag.
Gant concedes every one of these charges. He tells Angela Kennecke that his people were just too busy with other projects to get to reconciling the bank accounts. He says that his staff were too busy to turn in invoices relating to the federal HAVA money. Of the iPads, he says, “Unfortunately, three of them were misplaced or left at one of the facilities.” Naturally, if a guy is too busy to inventory expensive tablets, he’s too busy to follow-up on an old flag he stuck in a closet:
He says his office took it off a flag pole because it was ripping. He says he put it in an office closet with the intention of putting it in a case to preserve it.
Angela Kennecke: “As you were leaving office you could have given it to the archives.”
Gant: “Yes I could have, but I didn’t. I didn’t even check when I left if it was still on the shelf” [Kennecke, 2015.10.29].
Gant tries to minimize his errors and says he’s glad the audit found them:
“I think it’s wonderful information. I wish I’d had this before I’d left office so those accounting errors could be fixed,” Gant said [Dana Ferguson and Jonathan Ellis, “Gant Defends Himself After Audit: ‘I’m Telling the Truth’,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.10.29].
Fixed—yeah, that’s the word.
Krebs says fixing Gant’s errors could cost the state $100,000. South Dakota could lose even more if the feds follow the route they have laid out for our EB-5 program and decide South Dakota state government is too inept or too corrupt to receive HAVA funds or GEAR UP money.
Secretary of State Shantel Krebs must now scramble to demonstrate that South Dakotans can trust a Republican to clean up the corruption and incompetence that has blossomed like algae under two generations of one-party rule. But as sloppy accounting, theft, financial misconduct, cronyism, and crime pile up, South Dakotans may finally reach a critical mass of disgust and recognition that the oversight and transparency Secretary Krebs says we’ve been lacking will require more than one good Republican apple in the Pierre barrel; it will require overturning the Republican Legislature in 2016, the Republican Executive in 2018, and the Republican-appointed long-time staff who fill state government and fear to tread on the corruption we’re finding in department after department.