The South Dakota Legislature has finally caught up with other states and decided to offer training on “legislative ethics, professionalism, and sexual harassment.” All legislators and legislative staff “are expected to attend” this new training on Wednesday afternoon, January 17, the sixth day of the 2018 Session.
In the press release announcing this step, Senate Majority Leader R. Blake Curd (R-12/Sioux Falls) says, “The Legislature takes sexual harassment seriously and it will not be tolerated.” To demonstrate his commitment to that declaration, Senator Curd should ensure that Senate Judiciary does not hold its confirmation hearing for Gene Abdallah until January 18, when members can apply their training to ask Abdallah about his brutish response to a public accusation of sexual harassment against him. Perhaps that hearing will also give Senators a chance to question Abdallah’s nominator, Attorney General Marty Jackley, about why he allowed staff in his DCI to punish a female agent who reported sexual harassment in 2011 and who just won a $1.2-million lawsuit against the current DCI chief and a former agent.
Other legislators quoted in the LRC press release:
- Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D-21/Burke): “South Dakotans expect and deserve a government that is honorable and respectable. This training is the first step in the right direction to help ensure we have a culture of integrity and professionalism in Pierre that we can all be proud of. As elected officials, we must be held to the highest standards of good and ethical conduct. We must continually be listening to the people we represent and taking action to ensure we are doing all we can to promote a principled state government that supports equality and opportunity for everyone.”
- House Majority Leader Lee Qualm (R-21/Platte): “In light of the current national allegations regarding sexual harassment, I am excited the leadership of the South Dakota Legislature is moving pro-actively to ensure all elected legislators and legislative staff have an opportunity to participate in this training. As leaders, we take this topic seriously and expect all members and staff to attend. Integrity, ethical conduct, respect and professionalism are demonstrated every day in legislators and staff. This training will strengthen these great qualities.”
- House Minority Leader Spencer Hawley (D-7/Brookings): “Everyone expects to be able to work in a safe, harassment-free environment. This training is an important step for the SD Legislature to take to help ensure the professionalism and highest ethical standards from our elected officials and staff.”