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Mickelson Crafted Legislation to Exempt Self from Conflict-of-Interest Laws

Speaker G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) is using his Legislative authority to push CAFOs while partnering with former state ag development director Paul Kostboth in a consulting company that helps businesspeople obtain CAFO permits. I mused yesterday that Mickelson’s business thus poses a conflict of interest with his Legislative agenda. But is it?

Following the revelations of the Bollen/Benda/EB-5 scandal, Rep. Mickelson himself pushed legislation to clarify our conflict-of-interest laws and stiffen penalties for self-dealing. Mickelson’s 2015 House Bill 1064 wrote into statute (SDCL 5-18A-17) a one-year sit-out period that appears to prevent Kostboth from getting a private consulting contract from the state… unless Kostboth’s old employer, the Department of Agriculture, decides such a contract would be “fair, reasonable, and not contrary to the public interest” (SDCL 5-18A-17.2… and yes, the word you’re thinking of to describe such “protection” is tepid, or perhaps toothless).

But Mickelson also made sure his anti-corruption bill does not apply to himself:

Definitions applicable to §§ 5-18A-17 to 5-18A-17.5. The terms used in §§ 5-18A-17 to 5-18A-17.5, inclusive, mean…
(1)      “State agency,” each board, commission, committee, council, department, division, office, task force, or agency of state government. The term, state agency, does not include any authority created by the Legislature or executive order;
(2)      “State officer,” a person who is elected or appointed to serve a state agency. The term does not include a member of the Legislature, a person who serves without compensation, or a person who is only paid per diem in accordance with § 4-7-10.4;… [emphasis mine; SDCL 5-18A-17.6, enacted 2015].

Rep. Dan Ahlers (D-25/Dell Rapids) offered House Bill 1128 in 2017 to prohibit legislators from voting on legislation when legislators have “has substantial financial interest by reason of ownership, control, or the exercise of power over any interest greater than five percent of the value of any corporation, company, association or firm, partnership, proprietorship that is uniquely affected by the proposed legislation.” Rep. Ahlers withdrew that bill before it got a hearing.

Rep. Karen Soli (D-15/Sioux Falls) brought House Bill 1076 in 2017 to kinda-sorta make up for the Mickelson-driven Legislature’s repeal of Initiated Measure 22. Mickelson co-sponsored 2017 HB 1076, which created the State Government Accountability Board, but he hoghoused it in House State Affairs to make sure the new board could only investigate statewide officeholders and employees of the Executive Branch, not the Legislature.

So just as Donald Trump can’t obstruct justice, Mark Mickelson can’t have a conflict of interest.


  1. Donald Pay 2017-12-14 09:33

    Bah-bye, G Marky. You should resign immediately. You’re a crook.

    Hijacking South Dakota’s legislative process and negating South Dakotans initiative to reign in corruption to make sure your criminal enterprise can prosper is even lower than the sewage ash scam your father refused to stop.

  2. mike from iowa 2017-12-14 09:39

    What’s next? Making sure your pay isn’t limited by statute so you can accept bribes and spend campaign cash as yer own?

    Nice work if you can get it. Maybe it is who he knows.

  3. Jenny 2017-12-14 10:10

    You guys don’t get it, in SD it doesn’t matter especially when one is the State’s Golden Boy. The Golden Boy can do no wrong because of who is Daddy was.

  4. mike from iowa 2017-12-14 10:19

    Paging Molly Ivins. Your “chutzpah” comment is sorely needed in Aisle 1` in Pierre, South Dakota.

  5. John 2017-12-14 10:25

    I think that Daddy would take G Mark to the woodshed or otherwise disown him.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2017-12-14 14:04

    When I read about Mickelson type of blatant corruption, it makes it difficult to support an increase in legislative pay.
    Combined with their salary, kickbacks, state contracts they maybe party to, don’t they make enough damn money?

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-14 22:31

    An apt parallel, Porter.

    Roger, right! Who needs a pay increase when the private sector already offers so many perks for ambitious legislators who know how to combine their business interests with a legislative agenda?

    But maybe Mickelson can now make the argument, “Hey! If you folks paid us legislators more, Al and I wouldn’t feel the need to use our votes to improve our business plans.”

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