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.