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SOS Struggling to Find Gant-Era Documents for Federal Audit

“Gant Scam Continues!” hoots an eager reader in my inbox.

Why, yes, it does. Along with drafting reforms (and a couple deforms) to election and petition law, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs had the unpleasant duty Thursday of informing the Board of Elections that her predecessor Jason Gant’s contemptible mismanagement of the office is still causing trouble for the state, now in the form of a federal audit that is asking questions she can’t answer, due to Gant’s failure to keep records:

The audit is looking at how South Dakota had used hundreds of thousands of dollars received through the federal Help America Vote Act program that was established after the 2000 presidential election.

Documents from the past needed for the audit aren’t available in some instances, and some past spending is under question whether it was allowable, according to Krebs [Bob Mercer, “State Elections Office Struggling to Find Records for Federal Audit,” Rapid City Journal, 2016.10.15].

Secretary Krebs also reminded the board that the one program that might have redeemed Gant’s otherwise pathetic record of failures, his iOASIS overseas military absentee voting scheme, was itself a financial boondoggle:

Krebs said the Federal Voting Assistance Program paid for the Gant-era iOASIS program that he rolled into service in March 2014. Krebs shut it down last year.

She said the last submission for payment to the federal agency was denied and her staff is working on it.

Krebs said the substantiation of iOASIS expenses was questionable and there are questions whether the expenses were allowable.

She said South Dakota received a $648,000 grant for iOASIS and 27 military men and women used the program.

Krebs said the office is seeking more documentation for $43,000. “The state would need to be reimbursed for that,” Krebs said.

That expense left Viken flabbergasted.

“So we spent $648,000 for 27 people?” she asked Krebs.

“That is correct,” Krebs replied [Mercer, 2016.10.15].

Pat Powers, an integral part of Gant’s crony-driven failure, spends his weekend trying to make us think that Steve Hildebrand’s unsolicited advice to the Clinton campaign is somehow news. (He crafts his headline to suggest Hildebrand was anti-Sanders and thus pry Sanders voters away from Clinton and maybe from Hildebrand’s 36% payday-loan rate cap, but all Hildebrand says about Sanders is that he believes Clinton is “making a mistake by attacking Sanders in a personal way.”) Powers has predictable said nothing about the ongoing damage that he and Gant did to the integrity of the Secretary of State’s office.


  1. owen reitzel 2016-10-16 10:41

    Maybe Powers could grow a pair and come here and comment on this.

    Naw. I doubt it

  2. mike from iowa 2016-10-16 10:47

    Fed needs to subpoena Gant and Marty Jackley and question why Jackley hasn’t bothered to prosecute the prosecutable cronys and criminals under his watch.

    That includes the past and present jokes you have/had for governor.

  3. Rorschach 2016-10-16 11:23

    You mean Gant’s taxpayer funded tour of Germany wasn’t a reasonable and necessary expense?

  4. Porter Lansing 2016-10-16 11:27

    Don’t bother commenting, Mr. Powers. You’ve said it all before. “That wasn’t my department. I kept my head down and did my work and went straight home to my Dad’s basement. Really, I did.”

  5. oldguy7850 2016-10-16 12:32

    Grant was also a jerk as I used to see him going to work (10:00 AM) stopping for coffee at Schel’s in Pierre. He made sure everybody know who he was and just how important he was. He moved to SF like a year or more before his term was up. We should be proud of him….NOT! Steve H advice was right on I don’t see the problem with that.

  6. Eve Fisher 2016-10-16 14:41

    This isn’t exactly new news – our own Argus Leader reported on this back in 2015:
    “The Secretary of State’s office under former secretary Jason Gant used more than $500,000 in federal grant money to help 27 active military members vote last year.”
    So the general outrage – and attempt to get out of any culpability – seems pretty manufactured.

  7. Leo 2016-10-16 15:23

    Thanks Eve! Gant said: “The beauty of the system is that if in a few years there were thousands of South Dakotans overseas, they could be using it,”

    It’s a beauty! Sounds so much like the conartist Trump would use.

  8. Stace Nelson 2016-10-16 16:05

    This makes me disgusted and angrier than I can put into words. This also highlights why more government is not the answer.

    These clowns could have flown every service member home, and their family members, and put them up in a hotel for two days and still would have had better results AND wouldn’t have spent as much!

  9. Porter Lansing 2016-10-16 16:31

    Mr. Nelson … conflating big government and poor government is a false equivalency. Things are cheaper when you buy them as a group and run properly government saves everyone money.

  10. Leo 2016-10-16 16:40

    Eff your false equivalency PL, it is overused. More GOP government officials of Gant’s ilk in South Dakota is not the answer, obviously, because the corruption within is not being properly investigated and challenged by its own members.

  11. Leo 2016-10-16 16:50

    Please excuse me Porter. What I mean by my outburst is that we have an adversarial legal system in order to get to the TRUTH.

  12. Darin Larson 2016-10-16 17:10

    Stace Nelson blames this crap on big government. What a hoot! I blame this crap on corrupt one-party rule by the GOP. There is a culture of arrogance in the SD GOP that breeds corruption and abuse in Pierre. They don’t have to answer to anybody so on with the show. Nothing to see here. Your tax money at work.

    We’re not going to take federal money to get healthcare for 50,000 South Dakota citizens, but heck yes we will take it to facilitate Republican corruption.

  13. Mark Winegar 2016-10-16 17:29

    As I said before, those in power were/are either incompetent, criminal, or both. We obviously need to rotate the legislators and government officials but we also need IM 22.

  14. Leo 2016-10-16 17:41

    @Mark Winegar Bless you. In the spirit of Douglas Adams: “It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

    Douglas Adams
    Read more at:

  15. Porter Lansing 2016-10-16 18:14

    Mr. Leo,
    You suffer from an angry, negativity bias that makes our discussion unnecessary.

  16. Leo 2016-10-16 19:10

    Porter, thanks for your unwanted diagnosis. Have you ever heard of a thing called BREXIT? None of your ilk across the Pond thought it possible. Your highbrow fellows thought everything was just fine, Porter Lansing (for emphasis, might as well be called Biff!). Guess what, your ilk failed. Sorry you do not believe in Democracy, the righteous anger and the negative bias that is unworthy of the your limited attention, nor discussion with your inattentive intellectual class.

    So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!

  17. mike from iowa 2016-10-16 19:13

    anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

    Sounds like wingnut gospel of the last 8 years.

  18. Steve Sanchez 2016-10-16 19:13

    Mr. Hidebrand is not a fan of HRC using Washington speak on the campaign trail. It puts distance between the candidate and regular Americans. PP is wrong to criticize Hildebrand for being correct.

    HRC admits, “And now, obviously, I’m kind of far removed (from the struggles of the middle class) because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy.”

  19. grudznick 2016-10-16 19:36

    Mr. Larson, you are incorrect. There are studies that show it.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-16 20:30

    I agree with Darin and Porter: Gant-gate is a manifestation of the inevitable corruption fostered by one-party rule, not an object lesson in the ills of Stace’s favored bogeyman, “big government.” Elections don’t run themselves; government has to print, distribute, collect, and count ballots. The question here is not whether to have government act; the question is, how do we ensure government acts most effectively? Secretary Gant obvioulsy answered that question poorly. The answer is not less government; the answer is smart government that pays attention to voting rights and the bottom line.

  21. Nick Nemec 2016-10-16 20:56

    How many years could $648,000 funded early voting sites at Wanblee, Fort Thompson and other reservation communities? Talk about misplaced priorities.

  22. Stace Nelson 2016-10-16 23:38

    Our Founding Fathers understood that men corrupt government for personal power. They rebelled against the excess of government and enacted a blue print that allowed the USA to explode in wealth while allowing individual freedoms. When all Americans were finally freed from the worst type of government, one that allowed slavery, the USA’s success made earlier successes pale in comparison.

    Claiming there is one party rule (one dimensional politics) in SD shows a fundamental naïveté about the realities of politics in our state government.

    This attitude that more government is just not being done right is the reason why socialism/communism continues to be the leading cause of death in the history of man.

    This failure wasn’t “Republican.” It was the failure of good people unwilling to call a spade a spade because of a loyalty to voter registration letter over principles.

    We don’t need more of those type in Pierre regardless of whether their loyalty is to the D or the R.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-10-17 07:43

    Stace, the distinction you make is not a practical, actionable distinction. That’s not the distinction voters made when they automatically checked Jason Gant’s name in 2010 just because he had the R beside his name. The problem here is complacent and corrupt one-party rule.

  24. mike from iowa 2016-10-17 07:57

    Claiming there is one party rule (one dimensional politics) in SD shows a fundamental naïveté about the realities of politics in our state government.

    Every state office is occupied bt wingnuts. The Gov and both houses of Congress in your state are controlled by wingnuts. Sounds like one party rule to me.

    All the oppressive rules passed are draconian wingnut measures designed to further a wingnut agenda and keep wingnuts in power-the way it has been for close to forty years.

    But the victims of Dakota’s one party kingdom are wingnuts because Libs can’t gain control of anything.

  25. Darin Larson 2016-10-17 08:13

    Stace says “Claiming there is one party rule (one dimensional politics) in SD shows a fundamental naïveté about the realities of politics in our state government.”

    Holy Cow! South Dakota is the definition of one party rule. Every Congressional statewide office is held by a Republican. The Governor has been a Republican for 40 years. The legislature has been Republican controlled for what? 70 years? The entire PUC is Republican controlled. The statewide constitutional offices are all held by Republicans. There is not even enough Democrats in the legislature to require a roll call vote. The Republicans changed the rules to require a 2/3 vote on spending measures and they don’t even have to seek out Democrats for support.

    We have major corruption scandals in state government and the legislature whitewashes them and the attorney general’s office takes years to finally investigate them. We have a former governor who has his friend get a no-bid contract to run a government program handling millions of dollars that are misappropriated. The investigation of this matter is swept under the rug until after we elect this former governor to the US Senate.

    Stace, I thought you were supposed to be a straight shooter?

  26. Stace Nelson 2016-10-17 08:36

    ALCON, politics are much more complex than what is represented by the simple “R” and “D” distinctions.

    Many of you claim this in your support of V, while others use the converse to defeat your candidates.

    While many “R’s” claim to be conservatives to get elected, and many of those on the Left attempt to castigate the shortcomings of these faux “R’s” as conservatives, their actions define them as anything but.

  27. Eve Fisher 2016-10-17 09:22

    I’ve heard this argument before: “Corruption / problems / etc. in SD are all the fault of Democrats because you guys can’t get elected, so no wonder things go badly! The only way to solve this is for you Dems to join the Republicans and work from within!” Let’s unravel the layers of BS here:
    (1) So you’re saying that the reason for Gant, EB-5, and Gear Up, among other scandals, is because the Republican supermajority isn’t challenged by opposition? In other words, our SD politicians can’t just be honest? Interesting.
    (2) So you’re saying that SD Republicans aren’t responsible for what happens in Pierre because Democrats aren’t getting elected? (Talk about tails I win, heads you lose…) And that SD Republicans have no responsibility for their own actions… Interesting.
    (3) So you’re saying that while you believe in the concept of an opposition party, there really shouldn’t be an opposition party, but instead, there should only be one party and we should all join it and work from within to make it better? So much for democracy. Etc.

    It’s always interesting to hear people in power – and their defendants – discuss why they are not responsible for any of the decisions of any of the people in power, and how those people who are not in power are the ones truly responsible for how the people in power behave. BTW, this is the classic rationale / rap of an abuser. “You made me do this. It’s not my fault. If you were only [fill in the blank].”

  28. Jenny 2016-10-17 09:39

    Stace has it mostly correct.
    Remember, we need people like Stace and Cory to get elected so they can shake up Pierre. Stace isn’t a member of the State GOP brotherhood. He would fight the corruption as much as Cory would. Those two would be a force to reckon with in Pierre :)

  29. mike from iowa 2016-10-17 11:07

    Knowing the wasteful spending habits of wingnut pols, it would not surprise me if they decided to keep the newer system that serves 2 dozen-it sounds more elitist. Thanks for the link, Mr Santema.

  30. Darrell Solberg 2016-10-17 13:56

    See what having the WEAKEST transparency and oversight laws in the country net us? Amazing howl hard this party is fighting to stave off the measures on the ballot this fall. I don’t understand why the KOCH Brothers have so much interest in South Dakota? Could it be that a rigged system, continued power, influence, and corruption benefits them?

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