Gant Fired Blue Book Printer; Attorney Contends SOS Delayed Project

Joop Bollen and EB-5, Scott Westerhuis and GEAR UP, Jason Gant and iOASIS and the filched flag—even the sober and serious Bob Mercer is compelled to cry, “Too many scandals!

There’s a lot to read this weekend about the corruption and incompetence running rampant in South Dakota government. Among the minor threads is the tale of former Secretary of State Jason Gant’s failure to fulfill his statutory duty to print the 2013 Legislative Manual—the “Blue Book“—in 2013. According to Auditor General Marty Guindon, the publication that usually appears in July of each odd-numbered year didn’t issue forth from Gant’s office until December 2014.

Then-Secretary Gant blamed the printer, Rushmore Productions, declared they had broken their contract, and demanded in this Halloween 2014 letter that Rushmore Productions honcho Matthew Samp send back the over $10,000 the state had already paid for the tardy Blue Book:

Jason Gant, South Dakota Secretary of State, letter to Matthew Samp, Rushmore Productions, 2014.10.31
Jason Gant, South Dakota Secretary of State, letter to Matthew Samp, Rushmore Productions, 2014.10.31

Matthew Samp… isn’t his dad Rollyn Samp, veteran Sioux Falls lawyer and long-time South Dakota Republican advisor?

Uh oh:

Rollyn Samp, attorney for Rushmore Productions, letter to Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, 2014.11.10.
Rollyn Samp, attorney for Rushmore Productions, letter to Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, 2014.11.10.

“[D]ecide whether the state really wants to litigate this”—that’s how Rollyn Samp challenges you to a duel.

Attorney Samp follows up on December 4, 2014, with this letter to Jackley (not to Gant) explaining that Rushmore Productions faithfully executed the Blue Book contract to the best of its ability but was fouled at every turn by Team Gant’s incompetence:

Rollyn Samp, attorney for Rushmore Productions, letter to Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, 2014.12.04, p. 1.
Rollyn Samp, attorney for Rushmore Productions, letter to Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, 2014.12.04, p. 1.
Rollyn Samp, attorney for Rushmore Productions, letter to Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, 2014.12.04, p. 2.
Rollyn Samp, attorney for Rushmore Productions, letter to Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, 2014.12.04, p. 2.

Wrong file formats, wrong photos, too many changes from too many cooks in Gant’s office—don’t blame us, says Rushmore Productions, blame Jason Gant! We’ll keep our $10K and take another $28,512.93 for services rendered, thank you.

The Secretary of State’s office is not aware of any further payments issued to Rushmore Productions since that unpleasant correspondence. I’ll keep checking to find out how this matter was settled.

But given all sloppy management that Jason Gant has admitted plagued his office, whose story here do you believe?


22 Responses to Gant Fired Blue Book Printer; Attorney Contends SOS Delayed Project

  1. Gant used $668K of federal funding to create a system that was used by 27 voters. That’s only $25K/vote. What a bargain!

  2. I doubt this correspondence was made available to the GOAC committee as it met yesterday. Typical modus operandi for the last few years: The administration and GOP committee members know, in most cases, what the conversation needs to be steered away from; the minority members are operating without critical information in a carefully groomed genteel environment of “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.”

  3. Bill Fleming

    Need to see a copy of the contract, Cory. But as a sidenote, both entities need new letterhead designs. they should call me. ?

  4. 90 Schilling

    I’m no expert but use pdf to great detail. I have to wonder about a production company that can only work in word.

    I’ve never doubted Gants inadequadcies or his role in Rounds game in Pierre. Incompetence of a yes man for the governor is one thing but to hand this fella the reigns is another.

  5. Douglas Wiken

    PDF seems to be most printers preferred format. Even free Jarte can export to PDF format. JPG is a whole nother can of worms. Libre Office Writer can also handle PDF files. Perhaps Rushmore was too cheap to buy Acrobat, but free options were also available.

    This whole thing looks like incompetent state agency meets incompetent printer and then both appear unable to communicate. Seems to be what happens when in-grown Republican administrations feed work to sycophant Republican business.

  6. The Blue Book has always (for probably 100 years) been hard-bound with a blue cover. For 2011, Jason Gant decided he wanted to do it differently and had it printed in paperback instead. Maybe that was Samp’s idea; I don’t know. But the belated 2013 Blue book and the new 2015 Blue Book are back to the standard hard-bound version. If you look at the whole set going back to the beginning there is now one oddball paperback book in the bunch.

  7. Gant couldn’t follow the trouble-free practices that Chris Nelson used?

  8. Joel H Severson

    I’ve known Rollie for a really really long time, and although we hardly agree about the direction in which the sun rises, my bet is that his version of the story is more trustworthy. Having been in the print production business for a long time, I can also sympathize with his description of a “client from hell.”

  9. This book gets published every two years, and there’s not much new in it from one printing to the next. There would be absolutely no reason for a printer to have to re-type everything. Sounds like this printer sees a deep pocket and just ran up the billable hours. Whatever problems there might have been should have been sorted out by both sides in the summer of 2013 and not the fall of 2014.

  10. Any good executive (how old was gant?) delegates authority to unpaid interns) while living two hundred miles away! watching his german video glad handing troops says it all.

    and yet the arrogance never stops. look at the current SOS web page. anything jump out?

  11. bf-my thought too. hilarious.

  12. Clearly another example of Mr. Gant hiring incompetents and derelicts. But we all need to ask ourselves, why must this book be printed at all? I say we change the laws and burn all these books and stop wasting money and time. There are probably a few employees in young Ms. Krebs’ office that could be put to better use typing something else.

  13. The printer was not incompetent. It is completely irrelevant what other printers do, or what this printer could have done, regarding .pdf files. This printed submitted a bit specifying in detail their requirements for data format. If Gant’s office was locked into using .pdfs, they should not have accepted the bid and entered the contract. The Printer placed their bid specifying Word format documents, which is their preference, and their prerogative.

    Incidentally, Gant’s letter shows he cannot compose an appropriately well written piece of business correspondence. The wording is awkward and cumbersome on many levels.

  14. Bill Fleming, I checked the revamped Open.SD.gov, but I couldn’t find any contract or vouchers for Rushmore Productions.

    As Rohr notes, given the unchanging nature of much of the Blue Book’s material, how changes could have delayed the printing of the book for over a year escapes me.

  15. Douglas Wiken

    Whatever were the bid request specifications or the actual bid, the printer and the SOS should have been able to work out conversion without great difficulty. This is not rocket science. After seeing what our local school board does with contracts and bids, I would not be a bit surprised if everything was signed and approved without anybody actually reading anything….and then the crap hit the fan.

  16. larry kurtz

    Doug: are you blocked from DWC or just don’t bother calling out Powers’ BS?

  17. Douglas Wiken

    Kurtz, I rarely look at DWC. Powers has blocked some of my comments, but it seems a waste of time to check it. Powers started off with his blog with practical information on things like printing signs, signs on trucks, etc. It has been downhill ever since.

  18. larry kurtz

    Thank you, Mr. Wiken. Love your post on the Blog Hunt, btw.

  19. yup. foto of CAH and Jackley-priceless!

  20. Are Messers. H and Jackley nose-to-nose with spittle flying?

  21. Douglas, the Attorney General and I could likely come to an agreement on formatting a major public document for printing. If Gant acted like your school board and didn’t look at the conditions of the contract, then that’s on Gant’s head. Make a deal, follow the rules—this isn’t hard stuff!

    And sorry, Grudz: no spittle.

  22. Former Page

    I have to say…I have been silently reading the chronicles of the Gant saga for quite some time and this comes as NO surprise. In high school, I served as a Page to our “esteemed” state senate and I can say without a doubt, I could’ve been 10 times more effective as a high school senior than he was as an elected official in any branch of our state government.