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KSFY Refused to Comply with Select Committee Subpoena in Wollmann Affair

In an undercard to the South Dakota Legislature’s sex scandal, KSFY took a stand for journalists’ First Amendment rights against the state.

KSFY recorded an interview with a former intern revealing disgraced former Representative Mathew Wollmann’s sexual misconduct with Legislative interns during his two years in the Legislature. So far, KSFY has only released an audio clip from this interview, with the source’s voice disguised. However, KSFY reporter Bridget Bennett’s statement to Wollmann that KSFY had this video drive Wollmann to finally end his denials and admit at least some sexual misconduct.

On Monday, January 23, Representative Timothy Johns, chairman of the House Select Committee empaneled to investigate and discipline Wollmann, signed a subpoena demanding that KSFY “immediately produce… any electronic video or audio recording in its unedited form of any interview of Intern John or Jane Doe discussing any alleged misconduct by Representative Mathew Wollmann or other members of the Legislature….”

KSFY refused to comply. Attorney Steven W. Sanford sent this reply to Chairman Johns Monday evening:

As an initial matter, the House Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion does not have the authority to subpoena KSFY. The House Rules, which the subpoena invokes, governs [sic] the conduct and operations of House Members during each session. Undoubtedly, the Select Committee can require Members and staff to comply with legislative subpoena. However, nothing in the rules, South Dakota statutes, or the South Dakota Constitution provides the House or this Select Committee with the authority to compel citizens not employed by the House to appear and surrender their property in response to a subpoena issued under the House Rules [Steven Sanford, representing KSFY, e-mail to Rep. Timothy Johns, 2017.01.23].

Senator Larry Tidemann might agree with attorney Sanford; those of us who thought the Legislature should have subpoenaed Joop Bollen’s EB-5 records might disagree.

Much more fun is Sanford’s stand for journalistic freedom:

Moreover, the subpoena specifically seeks a journalist’s unpublished information from a confidential source. The right of journalists to protect their sources from compelled disclosure to the government is clearly established under South Dakota law and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. See Hopewell v. Midcontinent Broad. Corp., 538 N.W.2d 780 (S.D. 1995). The subpoena threatens the independence of the… free press, and its ability to provide information to the public without government impediment, that the journalist’s privilege is designed to protect [Sanford to Johns, 2017.01.23].

Hopewell established a “qualified privilege” for journalists to protect their sources in South Dakota, depending on five criteria:

  1. NATURE OF THE LITIGATION. Disclosure is more appropriate if the news person is a party (not merely a witness), particularly in libel cases.
  2. RELEVANCE. The information must go to the heart of the lawsuit.
  3. ALTERNATIVE SOURCES. The plaintiff must exhaust all alternative methods of getting the information.
  4. IMPORTANCE OF CONFIDENTIALITY. In matters of great public importance where the risk of harm is substantial, the court should protect confidential informants who fear exposure and retaliation if they reveal criminal and unethical conduct to the public even if the plaintiff has no other way to obtain the information.
  5. THE STATEMENT IS FALSE. The plaintiff must make a prima facie showing that the statement is false [Hopewell v. Midcontinent Broadcasting, 1995].

In an apparent appeal to Hopewell‘s third criterion, Sanford contended that the Select Committee already had “complete access to all people who may have knowledge of the matters under investigation.” This access is demonstrated by LRC Director Jason Hancock’s January 19 letter to all 2015 and 2016 interns inviting them to testify before the Select Committee. The Select Committee did not subpoena any intern; it thus seems odd that the Select Committee would try to compel one intern’s testimony via the KSFY subpoena.

KSFY requested the Select Committee withdraw the subpoena; absent that withdrawal, KSFY signaled it would fight the subpoena in court. The Select Committee certified Wollmann’s violation of Legislative Joint Rules and dissolved itself without resolving the subpoena.


  1. Francis Schaffer 2017-01-26 09:57

    Curious why Mr. Johns doesn’t subpoena current legislature members. Of course maybe he has. I believe the legislature has lost control of the high ground. It will be interesting to see who cracks first. I think the national media will be coming to town. Cory, thank you for the fantastic job of reporting on this, you are our ‘Spotlight’.

  2. Nick Nemec 2017-01-26 11:11

    I suspect the knowledge of which interns or pages were targets of former representative Wollmann’s advances is widely known within legislative ranks. There are better ways to get to the bottom of this than forcing a reporter to reveal her sources.

  3. Porter Lansing 2017-01-26 11:44

    Hear, hear KSFY. Standing up to those that cuddle with USA’s constitution, only to wake in the wet spot of their own repression.

  4. Stace Nelson 2017-01-26 16:39

    An interesting ( telling?) Sidenote, none of those who apparently had pertinent information about the misconduct such as Senator Greenfield, former Speaker Wink, myself, and a legion of others, were asked or called to testify.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 17:06

    Indeed, Senator Nelson. Why only demand testimony from those in the weakest positions of power?

    What chances are there that the Legislature would form a committee to investigate who knew what when?

  6. Francis Schaffer 2017-01-26 17:14

    It seems obvious to me that many have violated the ethical rules of the Legislature so the committee should convene to sort out the entire situation on the non reporting and inaction on Mr. Wollman’s reported behavior.

  7. Porter Lansing 2017-01-26 17:24

    That Nelson fella’s got guts, huh? In Minnesota, snitches get stitches. Especially when he snitched just to pay back a fellow politician who told the truth about his unethical campaign attacks against his opponent. He must drive an old car to Pierre. lol

  8. grudznick 2017-01-26 18:02

    Mr. Lansing, he ratted out a fellow Marine in retaliation and for vengeance about those post cards that made him angry. Mr. Nelson probably has a highly elevated view of his self-importance and holiness and sleeps like a monkey at night.

  9. Porter Lansing 2017-01-26 18:13

    In the Marines, once it’s been determined you’re not “foxhole material” you’ve got two choices. Quit or become an M.P. Nelson wouldn’t quit.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 18:52

    Wrong, Grudz. Wollmann ratted himself out, after faced with evidence his lies could not withstand. Nelson now only points out conduct unbecoming a legislator and a fellow Marine.

  11. Francis Schaffer 2017-01-26 19:02

    Actually Mr. Wollman’s behavior has been know by many in the legislature, if something had been done earlier none of this may have become public. Now with the actions, inaction and cover up on the part of the Republican leadership at the state level; we will clearly know what ethics they have remaining – or not.

  12. grudznick 2017-01-26 19:07

    Mr. Nelson is all about Mr. Nelson. And all of the legislatures know it. Everything else he does is a sham.

  13. grudznick 2017-01-26 19:08

    Mr. H, who else besides Mr. Nelson sends anonymous letters and robocalls?

  14. Roger Cornelius 2017-01-26 19:50

    Stace maybe a lot of different things to different people, but he happens to be 100% right on this issue.
    Why don’t people that supposedly have high Christian values and preach morality support him?

  15. grudznick 2017-01-26 20:15

    Mr. C, it’s because he’s a self-backpatting @ssh0le

  16. Stace Nelson 2017-01-26 20:50

    Porter & Grudz, You two lecturing me about the Marines is like a blind man lecturing about the colors of the rainbow. Thanks for the laughs. You two enjoy canoodling your alter ego.

  17. Stace Nelson 2017-01-26 20:55

    @CAH slim to never gonna happen.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 21:26

    That’s what I’m afraid of, Stace. Do those guys really want to leave another scandal for us Democrats to run on next year? Does Al really want me asking him what he knew about Wollmann’s misconduct and when he knew it? Too bad the Select Committee didn’t subpoena Senator Novstrup.

    Grudz, you sound bitter. You also sound like you’d rather wallow in personal grievances than deal with the interesting First Amendment issues at hand. I will venture no further in cheap barroom psychoanalysis.

  19. Mike Boswell 2017-01-26 22:55

    Cory what about those individuals who have been shamed they have rights 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments. Those rights were violated by Stace Nelson by making this very public. It has caused those who are innocent and guilty to go to hiding.

    This is about drama, attention getting, and shaming. Something Stace Nelson excels in.

  20. Spike 2017-01-26 22:56

    Cory, they subpoena KSFY? wow. Can’t make this stuff up!

    If trump wasn’t so bonkers… Pierre might have been able to reach the big time headlines at the apex of red state disfunctional political science.(although we are trying). But I’m sure, mike, Goeman, grudz, the deplorables etc would continue to say that poor Wolfman, I mean Wollman, is being victimized because boys will be boys, his R, Nelsons jealousy, your Al fixation etc.

    KSFY has just been inducted into the ranks of the evil enemy, the media.


  21. Stace Nelson 2017-01-26 23:28

    @Mike Boswell You accuse me of the serious offenses of violating someone’s Constitutional rights for reporting information provided by witnesses!? ?

    I’ll post those rights so you can see what they actually are as you explain to us all your asinine claim:

    IV Amendment:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    V Amendment:
    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    VI Amendment:
    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

  22. Mike Boswell 2017-01-26 23:42

    You sir disgraced yourself as a vet when you didn’t follow the guidelines by turning over your information and keeping it confidential. That would have protected the rights of everyone involved. It would have allowed an investigation to be done “behind closed doors” to assure that everyone’s information was given. Hopefully honestly and truthfully.
    It was not for you to decide that you weren’t being taking seriously enough. You should have addressed and readdressed your concerns with leadership. But then again you have issues dealing with the Legislative Leadership.

    You could have directed the Media to that leadership and you would have a clear conscience. You are not the Sheriff of the SD State Legislature, that is the job of the Legislative Leadership.

    You decided to take on the limelight and create drama rather than being a Professional and follow your directions. That’s what honor and integrity is about, but you already know that, sir.

    You are burning bridges and eventually you will have no support in the Legislature.

    What about the rights of the individuals that you didn’t name, but we have to listen to your hearsay evidence. Did you forget about that?

    You will get your limelight and attention, but you are term limited and will be done. That day can’t come soon enough.

  23. Mike Boswell 2017-01-26 23:53

    I did and I just did it again

  24. Mike Boswell 2017-01-26 23:54

    ““It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”
    – John Adams”

  25. Darin Larson 2017-01-27 00:15

    Mike, your quote relates to the common notion that under our system of criminal law we should allow a hundred guilty people go free before we convict one innocent person of a crime they didn’t commit. It has nothing to do with Wollmann as he confessed to his wrongdoing. Thus, he is not an innocent person. Maybe your point is that we should let a guilty person go on their merry way unscathed by justice.

  26. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 07:28

    Again Darin I am not specifically talking about the one guilty Stace has implicated others. You seem to be focused on beating the one (R).

  27. Stace Nelson 2017-01-27 08:13

    @Mike Boswell I turned over the information I had, to every person in the House. LRC made it crystal clear that the individual members were responsible. You don’t like that I didn’t help cover this up shows that YOU are just as dishonorable as those who protected this cad for two years.

    I did my duty, and will continue to do so. I have no intention of joining the scumbag club of going along to get ahead. You don’t like it? Tough. Feel free to take your excessive amount of free time from never having to worry about having such responsibilities, to continue to whine and spout your nonsense online and on the talk shows. You’ll help me break 80% across my whole district (not just one county) if I decide to run again.

    Better yet, how about you run for office and tell people that if you get to Pierre? You will dutifully do everything the governor and “leadership” tells you!? ?

    Cue excuses.

  28. Dicta 2017-01-27 08:20

    At first, Boswell tried to brush this off as nothing more than a kid being a kid, whatever the hell that means for a state legislator (mature enough to pass laws that impact 3/4 of a million people, not mature enough to keep his penis in his pants). THEN, Boswell says it should be handled behind closed doors, when the very damn issue is that leadership WAS NOT HANDLING IT. Now, Boswell has settled on “Hurr durr, you just wanna attack a republican.” I’m a registered republican and have been my entire life, you git. Stop making excuses and just admit people screwed up. Christ, you are just making it worse.

  29. Stace Nelson 2017-01-27 08:22

    @Darin If there was an actual violation of their Constitutional rights? The lawyers and judges appointed on the House panel would have lambasted me in a heartbeat. The only point Boswell has is under his hat. He was a big Rounds supporter and started throwing hissy fits about me 3 years ago.

    “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
    Franklin D. Roosevelt

    A lifetime full of convicted criminals, frustrated foreign operatives/ terrorists, Dishonest policiticians, and Mike Boswell. ?

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-27 08:49

    Lots of noise about Stace, but Stace wasn’t the legislator trying to strongarm journalists into giving up their confidential sources. Stace wasn’t the legislator trying to smoke out a relatively powerless intern for possible shaming and political retribution while shielding any powerful legislator or their poor disgraced golden boy from any public questioning.

    And Stace Nelson wasn’t the one banging interns and lying about it.

  31. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 09:40

    Stace was told to keep it confidential and he decided to jump into the limelight for himself

  32. Jana 2017-01-27 09:43

    Mr. Boswell, so what your saying is that what happens in Pierre stays in Pierre. Not to mention that covering things up is standard operating procedure.

    Drain the swamp.

  33. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 09:49

    No I never said that and if you think that you are listening to what you want too. I said let the Leadership do the investigation and be held accountable to it.

  34. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 09:51

    Stace that last line is the kind of drama that everyone expects from you. You are wondering why you can’t get support out of your district well there you are.

  35. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 09:53

    I find it funny that one of District 5’s (now retired) oldest and respected legislators calls you a “Drama Queen”.

  36. Darin Larson 2017-01-27 09:58

    Mike B., You keep saying it should have gone to the leadership and they would take care of it confidentially. IT DID GO TO THE LEADERSHIP A YEAR EARLIER AND THEY DID NOT TAKE CARE OF IT.

    And why do you keep saying this should have been kept confidential when THE HEARING IN FRONT OF THE COMMITTEE WAS GOING TO BE A PUBLIC HEARING AND STREAMED LIVE TO THE INTERNET.

    Apparently, you can not hear very well, so I WILL TYPE SLOW AND LOUD!

  37. Stace Nelson 2017-01-27 10:15

    @Boswell The fact that you insist on remaining ignorant as to abosorbing the sequence of events, AND that “leadership” is NOT an authority or chain of command I am obligated to defer to? Does not make me then responsible for the nonsense you spout.

    Get it through your thick damn head that “Leadership” sat on this for two years and encouraged the misconduct by making light of it! Then? When I gave them the information? They assisted the young man in lying to the public about it and in fact lied to the public about their own knowledge.

    You have shown you are so thick as to follow failed leadership blindly. I sure the hell am not. You don’t like my leadership on this? Look deep into my brownish-green eyes and see if there is a remote spect of any part of me that gives one milli-second concern over your ignorance of this matter.

    Put up or shut up. Run for office and let’s see how many people are foolish enough to give your ignorance a vote. Me? As long as I am in office, I will continue to serve my constituents exactly as I told them I would when get overwhelmingly elected me. You dont like that I won’t be part of your RINO team? Check those eyes again, same lack of concern.

    I look forward to seeing your campaign material when you run for office “Vote for Mike Boswell, he’ll follow bad corrupt “leadership” blindly!”

  38. Darin Larson 2017-01-27 10:25

    Mike Boswell, given your incessant and blind support for sexual misconduct and your unceasing attacks on Stace Nelson for being the messenger, I can only conclude that you are a political lackey for someone that doesn’t get along with Stace.

  39. Stace Nelson 2017-01-27 10:27

    @Boswell not that you give two cents about the actual facts, it was “leadership” that disclosed misconduct to the press AND The existence of the email information in their claims to the media that they heard about misconduct “yesterday” from emails I sent them. The media then asked for those emails. They were official correspondence. Blame the “Leadership” you so blindly follow and pledge your fealty to.

  40. Jenny 2017-01-27 10:36

    Why don’t run along over to the War Toilet, you’d have people that would support your accusations over there, Bos.

  41. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 10:52

    Stace Nelson it is not on you to Sherriff the Legislature. That is the job of the Leadership. You show your irresponsibility when you say they encouraged. That’s opinion. You have shown time and time again your unwilliness to work with Leadership. I know that didn’t come from your time in the Marines. You would have gotten your butt booted.

    As Cory has already stated that some of your comments are specifically hearsay. Which means he is legally covering the DFP on this issue.

    So Sir either you give exact details and names, so you can be held accountable to your words and actions. Don’t hide behind hearsay, so you can scream scandal and not prove it. While Wollmann took care of his issue on his own by resigning, that doesn’t cover the others you haven’t named but slandered anyway. That makes you wrong and your acts unprofessional. If you had an ounce of integrity, you would spill the whole can publically as you are attempting to claim “Whistle Blower” status. Let you be head accountable or do we have another Joesph McCarthy here. That’s what your Drama equates too.

  42. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 10:58

    I am going to repost what Don Coyote posted in another thread.

    “@cah:”What’s worse: Stace Nelson playing drama queen, or Mathew Wollmann playing soap-opera stud?”

    It appears that you are ok with the lack of due process, the right to face witnesses, and the use of hearsay and innuendo with the prosecution of this “goat rope” in the court of public opinion instead of allowing the House to discipline it’s own membership.”

  43. Stace Nelson 2017-01-27 11:06

    @Boswell remind us all who is the one with 23 1/2 years law enforcement experience, nationally recognized as an expert on rape & sexual assault investigations, and who actually has the knowledge of the events being discussed?

    The emails I released to the press, after “leadership” reported their existence, refute your continued ignorant recital of the entirety of the situation.

    It is not your place to tell me what my duties are to my constituents. Like I said, put up or shut up. I challenge you to run on this platform of ignorance that you are preaching here! Go ahead and tell South Dakota is that you’ll run for office and that you would be a good boy and do everything that corrupt politicians tell you to do!

    You’d be well to know that the United States Marine Corps gave me medals for going above and beyond the call of duty, and repeatedly warned me metals for my commendable service. So stuff your idiot comments about my beloved Corps, which you didn’t have the balls to join.

  44. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 11:14

    Someone needs to tell you Stace. If it is another vet of OIF to do that so be it.

  45. Mike Boswell 2017-01-27 11:18

    Maybe Stace ask Spencer Hawley or Jason Kettwig and ask them if what you are doing is above board or not. They are Vets I respect ask them.

  46. Stace Nelson 2017-01-27 11:39

    @Boswell feel free to have those to get out of the current age to come to my face and say something. Ask Rep Hawley why he didn’t take action on the complaint that he told me that he received about this misconduct. If you’re done his duty as required by the rules of the legislature, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    All this ignorance that you continue to push, does? His twin Kerge me to make sure that the Akron information continues to get pushed to the public. Thanks to you and your ignorance? You will see Further interviews and news about this.

  47. Stace Nelson 2017-01-27 11:41

    iPhone dictation! ?

    Thanks for the motivation Mike Boswell! You just showed me what I have to do!

  48. Don Coyote 2017-01-27 12:09

    @Nelson: “So stuff your idiot comments about my beloved Corps, which you didn’t have the balls to join.”

    You seem like a man with some serious anger issues. In fact you seem unhinged at times which was one of the reasons I voted for Rhoden over you in the Republican primary in 2014. I look forward to you running for statewide office again so I can vote against you again. Peace out.

  49. Francis Schaffer 2017-01-27 14:04

    This thread seems to have lost focus on the ethical problem with the Republican leadership at the legislature and the predatory nature of at least one of their members. I am glad KSFY has a video of a dialogue with at least one intern affected by his actions. I hope the interns find the courage to come forward publicly expose everything and everyone who had knowledge and did nothing. Maybe there are more from prior years who would like to come forward which would establish a pattern of behavior. Who knows where this could lead? To help our state become more ethical, transparent, less corrupt is my hope.

  50. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-27 16:07

    Exactly, Francis. The primary problem here is a culture of corruption, fostered by unchecked one-party rule, that makes members of the majority party think they can get by with unethical behavior and makes leaders of that majority party unwilling to address unethical behavior lest their power and reputation be weakened in any way.

    Power is being misused. It is going to legislators’ heads. Those (e.g. Mike Boswell) who make excuses for these misuses of power and attack those who try to expose those misuses are barking up the wrong tree.

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