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Gosch Bans Schoenbeck from Caucus in Pierre!

In political baseball, Rep. Lee Schoenbeck’s support for the Blue Ribbon plan to raise South Dakota teacher pay has made him the new Stace Nelson of the Legislature:

Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, Twitter, 2016.02.22, ~13:06 CST.
Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, Twitter, 2016.02.22, ~13:06 CST.

Rep. Schoenbeck says Majority Leader Brian Gosch has barred him from the GOP caucus. Well, that should make for fun debate on sales tax and teacher pay when the House convenes at 2 p.m. Central.

This incident comes after Rep. Schoenbeck continued to lambaste Rep. Gosch over the weekend as “pond scum” who “lied” to the “group of clowns” who followed Rep. Gosch in voting against House Bill 1182, the Governor’s funding mechanism for raising teacher pay. Rep. Schoenbeck also appears to have called Rep. Gosch something even stiffer in a Thursday evening text message that Rep. Gosch was reportedly sharing with his fellow Republicans in the Capitol Friday. (In the 9:08 p.m. conversation, Gosch’s text is in blue to the right; Schoenbeck’s is in grey to the left… and oh, aren’t those colors and directions symbolic on this dispute?):

Rep. Brian Gosch phone screen cap, reported to come from 2016.02.18 text conversation with Rep. Lee Schoenbeck.
Rep. Brian Gosch phone screen cap [censored], reported to come from 2016.02.18 text conversation with Rep. Lee Schoenbeck.
In 2012, Schoenbeck noted Rep. Stace Nelson’s banishment from caucus for bucking the leadership by calling Nelson’s antics a circus act and saying of Nelson “the S.O.B. just has it coming.” Rep. Nelson was a freshman legislators operating from a bellicose minority position; Rep. Schoenbeck is a respected veteran lawmaker who is catching heck for vociferous defense of a sales tax bill that a majority of the GOP caucus and the Republican Governor support.

Is Rep. Schoenbeck’s banishment mere personal spite from Rep. Gosch? Does the Majority Leader just think the man who wanted to be his lieutenant (and was passed over in favor of Rep. Steve Westra, who’s playing nicely and backing his leader’s opposition to HB 1182) just needs another day to “cool & come back with a better attitude”? Could it be a larger political maneuver to cast HB 1182 as Schoenbeck’s bill and pressure vacillating GOP caucus members to swing back against HB 1182 as a show of support for their insulted and wrathful Majority Leader? Find out this afternoon at 2 p.m. Central when the House convenes.

Update 14:01 CST: Rep. Gosch tells AP he expects HB 1182 will pass today. Dana Ferguson confirms that Gosch called the House heat on Schoenbeck:

Dana Ferguson, Twitter, 2016.02.22, ~13:50 CST.
Dana Ferguson, Twitter, 2016.02.22, ~13:50 CST.


  1. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-22

    My apologies, eager readers: this post took four comments, then locked up. I had to repost and lost the comments. I regret the loss and encourage your continued conversation!

  2. Straight outta ridge 2016-02-22

    This is an example of the problems the GOP is facing on a national scale.
    Could there be some common sense in the GOP?
    The big picture of the GOP reminds me of that Zip grain elevator in Sioux Falls that was supposed to be demolished. (and eventually was)
    Still standing but useless and not safe or trustworthy!!

  3. mike from iowa 2016-02-22

    Sterling example of why wingnuts need to re-do kindergarten and watch Sesame Street as prerequisites to holding political office. Any corners in a Rotunda for whiny,childish lawmakers to go stand in?

  4. Roger Cornelius 2016-02-22

    Schoenbeck needed security?

    Time to pass that capital gun toting bill. Maybe there will be a duel.

  5. Rorschach 2016-02-22

    Rep. Schoenbeck’s behavior is over the top. I can’t imagine him as a lawyer acting like that in a courtroom or any other professional setting. I believe he has a legitimate beef, but the way he’s handling it isn’t appropriate or mature. A judge would hold him in contempt and have him removed from the courtroom for behavior of this nature. Rep. Gosch is justified in doing the same.

  6. Thomas 2016-02-22

    A non partisan unicameral doesn’t sound all that bad.

  7. Bob Newland 2016-02-22

    Did I hear the sound of a pistol slide being racked as it chambered a round?

  8. Bob Newland 2016-02-22

    Seriously, neither Gosch nor Schoenbeck is probably someone you’d want watching the rear approach to your foxhole.

  9. Nick Nemec 2016-02-22

    Majority Leader (de jure) Gosch found out today that Schoenbeck is the de facto Majority Leader.

    If Gosch had an alternative plan to raise the funds for increasing teacher salaries he missed his chance to bring it forward. He had nothing from the beginning and drastically overplayed his hand.

    Money talks bulls#!+ walks. Or maybe in this case chickens#!+.

  10. Daniel Buresh 2016-02-22

    Gosch based his refusal to support on the presumption that the money was already there and a new tax was not needed. If this were true, why did it take the threat of a new tax before they even began speaking about it? Sorry if I don’t feel bad that they wasted 10-20 years not providing a solution and then when someones does, they seem to think we can do it some other way. Do your job or gtfo of the way. Without the threat of implementing a new tax, they would have spent another year sitting on their hands and doing nothing. Just goes to show their real interests that the people didn’t buy into.

  11. owen reitzel 2016-02-22

    I think my comment was taken out. My apologizes Cory. Let me try again with better language.
    Gosch is a jerk.

  12. Curt 2016-02-22

    I’ll wager that Schoenbeck is allowed back into the caucus tomorrow.

  13. Laura Donat 2016-02-22

    Looks like Gosch should step down and let the real leader take over. Good job Lee!

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-22

    Owen! I apologize. My WordPress ate three quarters of the original post and shut down comments around 2 p.m. I had to post a new version and lost those first comments in the first place. My bad, not yours! The comment section is open to analysis and criticism of both Gosch’s and Schoenbeck’s behavior.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-22

    Rep. Schoenbeck hasn’t chilled and out decided to play apology monkey. He appears to prefer his role as gorilla. Here’s his first Tweet after the successful vote on HB 1182:

    As GOP it is critical that we never let Brian Gosch ever get elected or nominated to any other position. Sometimes you just have to say NO [Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, Twitter, 2016.02.22 ~16:30 CST]

    Nick, any sense of how this fight might affect passage of other legislation this Session? Is there any reconciling for Lee and Brian after comments like this?

  16. grudznick 2016-02-22

    Mr. H, if you can get the old posts out of the press I hope you share them with us.

    I think Messrs. Gosch and Schoenbeck need a bit of a time out. Al Novstrup for the leadership!

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-22

    Don’t forget, Rep. Gosch is term-limited, so if he wants to remain in the Legislature, he has to nudge Alan Solano out of District 32 Senate. Watch for Solano and Schoenbeck wining and dining back at the hotel.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-22

    Novstrup is too busy prepping his campaign against eager District 3 Democrats. He can’t afford to get tangled up in a political squabble.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-22

    Daniel, that’s an apt assessment of the situation. Dems have offered a variety of plans for raising teacher pay and have consistently been shot down. I’m going to hypothesize that Lee, who is no dummy, realized that I’m right: being on the wrong side of the Blue Ribbon steam train is a ticket to losing in November. He’s insulating himself from that electoral pressure and amplifying the pressure that will fall on naysaying politicos whom he doesn’t like.

  20. Sam@ 2016-02-22

    Gosch is in the right on this one. Regardless of how bitter the battle is you do not resort to obnoxious behavior. Lee is nothing more that a a bulley who met his match. You can not have someone in a cacucus that does not repeat the opinions of other.

    Lee is a embarrassment to District 5 and thank god he is not running for re election. Hopefully he elects to leave sooner. Any two year old is more mature tha. Lee. What a brat?

    Lee has shown his true colors and not being a very nice person.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-22

    Sam, I’m confused: “met his match”? Schoenbeck got a popular bill passed for the Governor. Schoenbeck sure isn’t talking as if he has met his match. Schoenbeck sounds like he is pressing an advantage.

    Clarify for me where you see the obnoxious behavior starting. If it’s the moment he privately called Gosch chickenshingles, I’d disagree: team members can be frank with each other in private and still maintain a united front in public. Gosch then went displaying a private conversation to fellow caucus members to embarrass and weaken another caucus member—that sounds obnoxious and unteamplayerly to me, so should Gosch throw himself out of caucus?

    Arguably, Gosch and Schoenbeck are both being obnoxious. Such is the nature of civil wars.

    I just wish Gosch used Twitter.

  22. grudznick 2016-02-22

    Mr. H is learning the ways of the caucusing, and it will serve him well in the legislatures. Your cacucuses will swell with the ranks.

  23. Curtis Price 2016-02-22

    Or be rank with the swells — that’s what I’d like to see!

  24. drey samuelson 2016-02-23

    It’s worth noting that, in the nonpartisan Nebraska Legislature, members don’t get thrown out of political party caucuses… why? because they don’t have them! There is no party line, and hence no party line a legislator has to follow–each legislator follows his own conscience, rather then dictates of some party-elected official. The SD Nonpartisan Democracy Amendment will be voted on this fall, and if it passes, that’s the same system that we’ll have in Pierre–no party caucuses, no threats from party “leaders,” and legislators of both parties will be eligible to chair committees, dependent only on their strengths as leaders, not the strength of their political party.

    If you want to get involved, visit our and help us pass it!

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-23

    Drey, if we pass Amendment V, how quickly would South Dakota legislators unlearn their partisan practices? Non-partisan elections, independent redistricting, and the Anti-Corruption Act could produce a very different Legislature in 2018, but we’d still have some of the same Republican legislators we do now.

  26. O 2016-02-23

    Sam, I enjoyed your Freudian slip: “You can not have someone in a cacucus that does not repeat the opinions of other.”

    I believe there was a level of frustration during the whole 1182 debate (all four days) stemming from the validity and truthfulness of claims being made. One comment made was that a court would not tolerate Schoenbeck’s behavior, but I would offer that no court would allow the deliberate use of misinformation that Schoenbeck (and members of the Appropriations Committee) were so upset about.

  27. John Wrede 2016-02-23

    For some of us out here in never land that have had to endure Brian Gosch’s self righteousness and patented insensitive impudence, this feuding comes as no surprise. Brian Gosch and his followers on this end of the state have not done South Dakota any favors and they continue to be the “control freak” standard bearers of the GOP that isn’t interested in anyone else’s interests, concerns or facts…. On the other hand; I’ve been on the receiving end of some of Lee Schoenbeck’s crude criticisms and it isn’t pleasant and from that perspective, it isn’t easy to excuse the coarse vitriol he has a propensity to use whenever his passionate disagreement meter pegs out. The entire distraction from the legislative process is stark evidence that the GOP has lost necessary self control and decorum no differently than the Stace Nelson or even Lance Russell incidents that boiled over into infantile decision making. GOP dominance in SD politics is no longer based on statesmanship, honest factual debate, respect for other people, their disciplines and philosophies or any sincere interest in doing what is right for us. It has become a filthy, scheming, tactical insurgency to seize power and control of everything. In any circumstance, where logic, reason and facts challenge them, the response is and will always be, to overwhelm carefully researched and crafted arguments with number power. That is how street gangs in Chicago and Los Angeles operate. There no longer is what might appear to be a reasoned, rational and honest debate on any topic. Closed mindedness is a horrible thing to perpetuate.

  28. Nick Nemec 2016-02-23

    I see that Rep. Schoenbeck made a comment on a Facebook thread that he was going to resign from the Legislature on Wednesday.

  29. Roger Cornelius 2016-02-23


    Bob Mercer has a blog up on Lee’s resignation.

  30. Catherine Ratliff 2016-02-23

    Lee Schoenbeck is a grown-up. For a minute he was not. He needs to get back in there and do his professional grown-up thing to get funding for teachers.

  31. Mike Quinlivan 2016-02-23

    Man, screw both of them. Lee seems so full of himself I am surprised he doesn’t blow up like that guy in Monty Python and the meaning of life whenever He speaks. And Gosch seems like a typical a-hole. Its a match made in heaven. Let them eat there own. Just because Schoenbeck did one right thing in his legislative career does not make him a martyr.

  32. grudznick 2016-02-23

    They should Indian leg wrassel in the middle of the dome of the capitol building, with crowds hanging from the balconies smoking demon weed and throwing spitballs.

  33. Chris hesla 2016-02-24

    Lee schoenbeck is a terrible person who is against farmers and ranchers. Hopefully this embarrassing laughable stunt is the end of his political pipe dream. He needs to go back to Watertown with his tail between his legs and dispute traffic tickets in court like he always has.

  34. grudznick 2023-10-28

    Mr. Schoenbeck sure showed that large fellow Mr. Helsa.

Comments are closed.