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Campbell Names Abdallah as Harassing Legislator

On Monday, Attorney General Marty Jackley appointed former lawman and legislator Gene Abdallah to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Before Abdallah takes that seat, perhaps he should beg Tiffany Campbell’s pardon for crude behavior she says he committed the last time her served in Pierre.

Campbell is one of the women sharing stories of sexist behavior during our Legislature’s annual business in Pierre. Here’s the account Campbell shared in the DFP comment section yesterday in response to my post on hiring outside parties to investigate sexual harassment in Pierre:

This is needed in Pierre. When I was a lobbyist a lawmaker asked if he could watch me pee. Lobbyists are not given a crash course on procedure and certainly not told who to contact or file a report if harassed. I thought telling the speaker of the House would mean my harasser would be talked to by leadership. I was wrong, the speaker said he couldn’t do anything since it didn’t happen at the Capitol. He then asked what night it happened, when I told him he replied, “Yea, I heard he was pretty bad that night (I assumed he meant my harasser was really drunk). I know for a fact that the speaker never spoke to him [Tiffany Campbell, comment, Dakota Free Press, 2017.10.26].

Campbell told reporters Dana Ferguson and Megan Raposa that she didn’t pursue the issue further because, as a lobbyist, she was working on three bills and “felt she needed to ‘tread lightly.’” Campbell says the legislator in question was Abdallah, who in 2012 was in his last Session. According to Campbell, Abdallah has denied to reporters that he ever knew Campbell, and Val Rausch, Speaker of the House at the time of Campbell’s reported incident, has not returned reporters’ calls.

Abdallah’s appointment to the Board of Pardons and Parole is subject to confirmation by the South Dakota Senate. Members of the board are expected to undergo annual training on and demonstrate understanding of, among other things, Corrections programs for female offenders and “gender responsivity”. Perhaps the Senate will want to take testimony and inquire about whether Abdallah has offended females and can respond appropriately to gender issues.


  1. Bob Newland 2017-10-27 08:55

    While Abdallah was Superintendent of the Highway Patrol, I saw him leave the Long Branch in Pierre in the middle of an afternoon with a full glass of beer, walk across the street, get into his car and drive off.

    While he was a legislator, I saw him in another bar in downtown Pierre, late at night, so drunk he was lurching into tables as he made his way to the restroom (once) or to the door to leave (the other time). On one of those occasions, he also hung on two young women whom I recognized as either interns or aides in the capitol, and squealed in imitation of a pig.

    Val Rausch, naturally, will continue his role as an enabler, since he was worthless for any other role in the legislature.

  2. Bob Newland 2017-10-27 08:56

    I didn’t make it clear above that I was speaking of two different evenings that I observed Abdallah in the same bar, lurching around.

  3. Jenny 2017-10-27 08:59

    When is the US going to stop electing and appointing old, very old men to positions?
    Of all the accomplished hardworking SD people out there, Jackley chooses Abdallah. This after it has come out that he has been known to drink heavily and harass women during his years in Pierre.

    And men think they’re discriminated against. Look at the statistics.

  4. Jenny 2017-10-27 09:01

    They don’t call it a good ol boys club in Pierre for nothing.

  5. Tiffany Campbell 2017-10-27 09:11

    I believe you Bob. Before Gene harassed me he had told me we were going to the Longbranch for dinner. Rep. Justin Cronin joined us. Gene was so drunk he pushed the credit card receipt in front of me and mumbled something, I assumed he wanted me to put the tip in and sign it. Then without saying goodbye he grabbed his keys off the table and left. I said to Cronin, “Should he be driving?”. Cronin replied, “That man will never be picked up in this town.”. I wasn’t concerned he would get a DUI, I was worried he would kill someone.

  6. Tiffany Campbell 2017-10-27 09:17

    Jenny, I should add that when a reporter told Jackley about Gene’s drinking and driving and what he said to me, Jackley didn’t pause, he just repeated Gene’s resume. Does SD really want someone that over looks drunk driving and sexual harassment as governor?

  7. Jenny 2017-10-27 09:56

    Men as accomplished as Jackley should know better and it is disturbing he doesn’t seem to have any worries at all that he’s appointing a drunk old fart that harasses women. But frankly, it’s SD and this is the way it’s always been in SD. You appoint your friends and people with power and it’s hard to break that.
    This would be a good moment for the Sutton team and also the Noem team to call Jackley out on this.

  8. truthteller 2017-10-27 10:39

    human trafficking is deplorable and universally people are furious about it

    Its interesting what a huge media hype there was made for how vigorously the human trafficking was pursued – of course it was being used politically to make some people look like heroes – and take attention from other scandals etc.

    it would be remarkable to see attention given to other issues that are not as one-sided and have meaningful discussions about issues like harassment – but it can not happen here – Pierre it seems is as immune to being questioned as Moscow or Beijing.

    is there is no active journalism that isn’t corrupted or biased in our state ?

    does our governor or officials have to answer tough questions to scrutinizing journalists?

  9. mike from iowa 2017-10-27 10:56

    Sounds like the newest nominee for corrections could use a few hizownself. Preferably with a rolled up newspaper and a “bad doggy.”

  10. Rorschach 2017-10-27 12:54

    I believe Tiffany. And so does everyone else. I have no doubt this happened.

  11. Steve Hickey 2017-10-27 15:09

    I believe Tiffany, for sure. Thanks Tiffany for naming this pig who would even think that let alone say it.

    Next, let’s name the Capitol rapist. No shame in it. Out the guy. Time for justice which really helps toward healing.

    As long as it’s okay to booze at night these behaviors will continue. Women should beware, especially as a rapist is working at the Capitol.

    Anyone know the number of sexual harassment complaints from employees to the HR people Citibank in Sioux Falls? Or Sanford Health? I know a couple incidents there. Also, my wife came home and told me some comments that came her way when she was a teacher nearly twenty years ago at Harrisburg High a School. I was so mad I called the Superintendant. I’m not convinced we have escalated sexism in Session as the Argus articles suggest. It’s not acceptable anywhere but I was there and I’d think it’s no different than behavior business trips, ball games and any bar. Id also like to know the number of legislators in bars at night. Probably far more lobbyists . All my cronies there read bill’s at night and loved being in bed early and enjoyed a chat with the spouse and kids at home.

    Also, some of the behavior I saw in Pierre looked to me like carry over immaturity and stupidness from folks not that far removed from USD or SDSU. It’s prolonged post adolescence and booze and sex are fine in college these days, especially SD schools.

    Hope this is the end of political involvement for Gene. I tweeted a few days back I hope this appointment isn’t foretaste of a Jackley administration type appointment. Picking Abdallah was putting the car in reverse, not forward for SD.

    Don’t need more law enforcement types on the parole board, people with the eye for and eye mentality. Need people who understand the place of mercy in redeeming fallen human beings. I used to say I don’t get all bent out of shape about the Ten Commandments in courtrooms but would rather have judges walk by plaques every day that say blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.

  12. Steve Hickey 2017-10-27 15:18

    And Tiffany, he knows who you are. That was the year you worked with me on something, you were with the ACLU, and I got into a spat on the House floor with Gene over the bill. He accused me of taking my cues from you/ACLU. I’m sure it is all recorded if someone did the digging. Trust me, the Republican legislators know who is walking the halls for the ACLU.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2017-10-27 18:11

    From Angie Buhl O’Donnell’s Facebook page, Oct. 23, 2017.
    Steve Hickey Twitter comment:
    “Bizzare only Dem women have these experiences. Go boozing, get ogled. During day I saw infrequent flirtatiousness and rolled my eyes at M&F”.
    Steve added the extra Z to bizarre.

  14. Tiffany Campbell 2017-10-27 19:16

    Yes, that’s the bill Hickey is referring to, but I wasn’t married to that bill, so I wasn’t upset when Abdallah spoke out against it even though he was a co-sponsor. I was also disturbed by Hickey’s tweet, but like I told a reporter I think female republican legislators have felt discriminated against, but they refuse to speak out against their own party. I also think legislators harass democratic legislators like Angie Buhl O’Donnell and liberal lobbyists like myself because they know they won’t be held accountable. Who are they going to tell? I thought I did the right thing by discreetly telling Rep. Val Rausch about what Abdallah said. I am very disappointed he refuses to call the reporter back and verify my story. I thought Val was a man of integrity, I was wrong. Rep. Justin Cronin is also not returning a reporters repeated calls. They are cowards. I hope this post is read by someone in the governor’s office and the governor will stand by his words that men who harass women should be held accountable. Abdallah being appointed to the Board of Pardons and Paroles is not holding him accountable. I wasn’t surprised when Abdallah said he never met me, I knew he would lie to save face, but Jackley not even pausing when told about Abdallah’s behavior is inexcusable. How can you hear about such disgusting behavior against women and drunk driving allegations and just reiterate someone’s resume? I expect more from our AG and gubernatorial candidate and I hope all of you do as well.

  15. Ken 2017-10-27 19:27

    The bottom line is this. Until the stupid electorate here smartens up enough to realize Republicans are nothing but pure vermin and vote them ALL out of Pierre, nothing will ever change. The good ol’ boys network needs to GO and people need some genuine representation in SD for once. I don’t know why people think Republicans are their friend because THEY ARE NOT. They are beholden ONLY to their billionaire owners and masters. They’ll never police themselves, come ON, people! They’be been getting away with murder for years. How many times do you have to have your nose rubbed in thing before you realize those things STINK?!

  16. leslie 2017-10-27 20:04

    ken, ” nothing will ever change.” I am doing everything I can to resist, and an active democrat so please join us and help us change misery to respect and ethics and protection for the lower and middle classes. If yah like the view, yah better own it.

    If we can do it in SD we can do it anywhere. Black Elk Peak! Trump has offered to rename Denali to McKinley. Over and over again we have to remake what Republicans tear down. Any vote for them is a vote for the Koch brothers and the Mercers and Mitch McConnel’s denial of a hearing for Obama’s supreme court nominee Merrick Garland, a reasonable middle of the road highly qualified Justice to replace dead Scalia. Instead we have Gorsuch: “he interprets the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause as the Supreme Court never has, to entitle churches to public money on the same basis as secular institutions”

    This guy was a known assaulter of young women in 1973-4 in his dental office, … yet here he is still operating unethically. I am so mad at him STILL I just wanna punch him if I ever see him again, 45 years later. Look at his resume: boards, council memberships, on and on and on… the city loved him, rewarded him.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-10-28 18:12

    Steve Hickey, I appreciate your support of Campbell’s statement.

    I disagree with your faint whataboutism, your statement that the sexism in the Capitol may not differ significantly from the sexism to which women are subject on business trips and at ball games or bars. Sexually inappropriate behavior in the Capitol differs because it takes place in a temple, the highest secular temple in South Dakota, the people’s Church of Democracy. Even the behavior happening outside the Capitol building itself warrants heightened scrutiny because all those people are there to do the people’s business.

    Sexual harassment, rape, and sexism in general should not happen anywhere. But that horndogs would exploit our Legislative process to get their jollies (especially when so many people win election to be part of that process by swearing to their “family values” bona fides) is particularly offensive

  18. Bob Newland 2017-10-28 19:02

    That’s about as close as you’re going to get to seeing Steve Hickey having contributed anything to the glory of SoDak due to his pathetic reign as a legislator.

  19. Jason 2017-11-30 08:45

    Ken, your statement about Republicans being nothing but pure vermin tells us all we need to know about you and your intelligence. Let’s take a tally right now of left vs right when it comes to sexual harassment.

    Tiffany, I believe you, but your problem is your fellow Democrats are as bad or worse nationally and then you have your SD democrats making idiotic statements here.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-30 12:39

    Jason, why are whatever dumb words or actions you perceive coming from Democrats relevant to the question of whether Abdallah should be held accountable for the actions you believe he committed? Why are Democrats’ words and deeds or the “tally” relevant to the question of whether Abdallah should be confirmed to the Board of Pardons and Paroles?

  21. Jason 2017-11-30 19:23

    Cory, Abdallah should be held accountable for what he did if it’s true.

    As for Ken, he said what he said and I stand by what I said about his comments.

  22. Roger Cornelius 2017-11-30 19:38

    Always the “if” in defending sexual predators.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-04 10:02

    Jason dodged everything I really wanted him to answer about the relevance of his mostly distracting comment.

  24. Jason 2017-12-05 11:36


    I’m not defending anyone. I live in the USA where you are innocent until proven guilty.

  25. Roger Cornelius 2017-12-05 12:49

    I live in a country where there are two applications for “innocent until proven guilty”.
    Innocent until proven guilty is a long held standard of our judicial system, but does not apply to the court of public opinion.

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-05 15:59

    Roger, excellent point… especially since Jason seems perfectly content to prosecute Democrats in the court of public opinion and didn’t say anything about “innocent until proven guilty” in his original statement.

  27. Jason 2017-12-08 07:53

    Great Roger.

    Let’s discuss the statutes surrounding what Clinton did with her server.

    You game for that?

  28. Jason 2017-12-08 07:56


    Most of the Democrats have admitted their guilt or we have picture proof. I’m not defending any Repub or Dem in these matters. I let the evidence or lack thereof speak for itself.

  29. Jenny 2017-12-08 08:09

    You’re really going to make this about which political party has more sexual harassers, Jason? Really? That’s what’s important to you? Good grief.
    It’s a problem on both sides so get over it. ‘Pubs can’t claim a high road on this and their Churches can’t either. Churches can be the worst places for sexual deviancy, take a look at the MPR investigation on the Catholic Church sex scandal called Betrayed By Silence. Priests have gotten away with sex crimes for decades upon decades.

  30. Darin Larson 2017-12-08 08:33


    I love your “most of the Democrats have admitted their guilt” argument, as if Trump and Roy Moore are shielded for their conduct by not owning up to it. Is this the Bart Simpson defense?

  31. Darin Larson 2017-12-08 08:35

    PS I’ve got two words for you, Jason: Dennis Hastert

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-08 08:44

    Oh no, Jason, let’s not discuss the Clinton server, since it is completely irrelevant to this topic. And Franken’s resignation speech yesterday fell well short of an admission of guilt.

    And I still haven’t heard the explanation of how any “tally” is relevant to weighing the merits of Campbell’s claim against Abdallah, the merits of Abdallah’s brutish public response to Campbell’s allegation (summarized: go to hell, you failed wife and mom), or the action the South Dakota Senate should take in considering Abdallah’s nomination.

    We all need to base our discussions less on national talk-radio noise and more on South Dakota specifics. Such South Dakota-grounded conversations will make us all better-informed citizens.

  33. Jason Hatzenbuhler 2017-12-08 12:23

    Franken said the picture taken by his brother was fake?

    Roger brought court of public opinion. The Clinton server falls under that also.

    So Cory, do you think people should lose their jobs based on accusations from years ago?

    I’m sure you remember the Duke Lacrosse team, etc. etc.

  34. Jason Hatzenbuhler 2017-12-08 12:27


    What do you think I meant when I said I’m not defending any repub or dem?

    I base my opinions on facts and evidence.

    People lie. In this case, I believe Tiffany but I can’t prove she’s not lying.

  35. Roger Cornelius 2017-12-08 17:00

    Jason and Jason Hatzenbuhler:
    Please free to discuss Hillary’s private server among yourselves. Given that she is no longer under any kind of federal investigation the server debate can’t be included in the court of public opinion or the judicial system.

  36. Roger Cornelius 2017-12-08 17:03

    Jason H.
    If you were raped 28 years ago by a teacher would you not bring up years later because you feared not being believed?
    There is no statute of limitations on making an accusations, but I’m certain you would want to be believed.

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-08 17:10

    Jason, I do believe there is a fair debate to be had about consequences for wrongdoing. Consider: I was fired 17 years ago from Madison High School for mishandling a bullying situation. Since then, at least six public school districts and the South Dakota Board of Regents have hired me to work with students, and I would contend that I have carried out the duties for which I’ve been hired reasonably well. I was held accountable in 2000–2001; I have since performed adequately in other jobs. Has my accountability been fulfilled?

    Abdallah stands accused of misconduct in a previous job. He appears not to have been held accountable then for that misconduct. At what point should he be held accountable? I would suggest it seems reasonable to say that now, as he stands to assume another position of power in government, seems a reasonable time to impose that accountability… or at least to have a very serious conversation (like the ones I’ve had with multiple interviewers for the last 17 years) along the lines of, “What did you do wrong, what have you learned, and what assurance can you give us now that you will never commit such wrong while doing the job we are thinking of giving you?”

    And don’t forget: as I note with my link in the comment above (because the statements on the record and the story as a whole have expanded significantly since I broke this story on October 27), Abdallah placed statements on the record at the end of November that by themselves are grounds for disqualification from a high public office requiring responsibility, empathy, and fairness.

  38. Kurt Woodard 2018-01-17 05:49

    I’m concerned that false accusations will become a trend in the future, used to destroy careers. I don’t know anything about Abdallah, but I thought Al Franken should’ve stayed to follow through on an outcome decision by the Senate Ethics Committee.

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