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Loetscher Complains of Campaign Hacking; TenHaken Doesn’t Deny Intimidating Phone Call

The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office and the Division of Criminal Investigation are investigating mayoral candidate Jolene Loetscher’s complaint of hacking against her online campaign resources. Loetcher’s opponent, Paul TenHaken, a social media guru with a proven record of engaging in dirty tricks online to challenge political opponents, denies that he was involved, but his denial is darned peculiar:

At their mayoral debate Monday at the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club, Paul TenHaken strongly denied he has hacked Jolene Loetscher’s campaign.

Loetscher reminded him that he once left her a voice mail, claiming he had the tools to do it.

“That is not what I would have expected of you, to say that and to do that.  So I just stand here, saying these are the facts.”

TenHaken acknowledged that he has the skills to do it, but is against negative campaigning.

“When I talk about tools in the toolbox, what I mean is, negative campaign tools. I had dirt on every single candidate, all seven candidates. I don’t do that” [Mark Russo, “TenHaken Denies Hacking Loetscher Campaign,” KELO Radio, 2018.04.23].

The story may not be the hacking—we can let law enforcement study the evidence and present its conclusions. The story may be TenHaken’s weird and disingenuous response. His supporters are out there swinging away at Loetscher, calling her “desperate,” “anti-business,” and unsuccessful, so he must not mind negative attacks that much. Apparently he was willing to threaten Loetscher himself on the phone—did you notice he didn’t deny recording that voicemail to her?—with negative attacks. In yesterday’s denial, he tries to have his goody-two-shoes cake and eat it, too, claiming he doesn’t throw dirt but openly bragging about the piles of dirt he has collected on all of his opponents and could throw if he weren’t such a righteous dude.

Scott Ehrisman throws the BS flag at that sleazy ploy:

But what was more revealing during the exchange was when Paul said, “I have dirt on all seven of the mayoral candidates, but I’m not going to go there, it’s not my style.”

Then why do you have this ‘dirt’?

As I have told people in the past, I get tons of tips about the candidates running for office, and I have been very impressed that I have not heard ONE negative thing about Jo, except the fact that she is a strong outspoken woman, and IMO that is an asset. All we have to look towards is other local female politicians with strong personalities that have done superb jobs like Loila Hunking, Anne Hajek, Pam Nelson, Karen Soli, Theresa Stehly and soon to be councilor Janet Brekke. We expect this from a leader, and today Jolene showed just what kind of leader she would be. Bravo [Scott Ehrisman, “‘You May Say It’s Negative, But I Call It the Truth.’ Loetscher,” South DaCola, 2018.04.23].

TenHaken sounds a lot like my neighbor and District 3 Senate opponent Al Novstrup. Criticize their policies or public statements, and they play Mr. Clean and try deriding such honest criticism as “negative campaigning.” But they do not restrain themselves or their supporters from personally intimidating their opponents and launching personal attacks on the good people who stand between them and power.


  1. Porter Lansing 2018-04-24

    Classic distracting, double-speak. Saying, “I’m not going to go there.” isn’t saying “This information will not be used or hasn’t been used by anyone on my campaign or given to anyone else, to go there.”

  2. Lori 2018-04-24

    Terry LaFleur has also been hacked or a former duplicate fb profile that he closed out has now been re-opened and the hackster endorsed Marty Jackley. So now DWC is claiming that Terry dropped out of the race and endorsed Jackley.

    Terry claims this started after chatting with a group regarding the mayoral race and has some type of tie to it. PP refuses to take his post down. A journalist can’t falsely report that a candidate has dropped out of a race. Of course, PP is not a journalist but subject to the same types of charges. Terry has contacted the FBI and SD DCI to investigate.

  3. chris 2018-04-24

    If TenHaken announces he has “dirt” on the other candidates, he doesn’t need to say what it is to pressure any of them to endorse him. It is an implicit form of blackmail.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2018-04-24

    Sioux Falls voters should find these hacking charges very concerning.
    If TenHaken has all this dirt on other mayoral candidates, what dirt does he have or will he get on Sioux Falls residents that oppose him if he is elected mayor?

  5. Donald Pay 2018-04-24

    Having that guy for mayor would be like having Nixon or Putin running the town. I’m not sure you want someone who would be a dirty trickster hacking your information if you had a beef with city hall.

    I’ve never been as big a believer in “success” as Pat Powers. I’d say Nixon or Putin were successful, but who wants them running government. I do think there is something to merit, experience and smarts, but “success” is often too much like “Suck-cess.” Trump was a success, supposedly, and he’s a pornstar chasing nincompoop who can’t do anything right. He had to have Putin’s hackers win him the election. Well, I guess TenHaken can at least do the hacking by himself. He’s a success at that, at least.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-24

    Blackmail—that’s a word we should perhaps be hearing more in this discussion.

    Lori, I’d think the alleged FB hacking against LaFleur would be entirely off TenHaken’s radar—LaFleur doesn’t affect TenHaken’s chances. But is interesting that the matter arises the same day that the Loetscher complaint goes public. It is also interesting that, when I checked before lunch, Powers had deleted both his original post on LaFleur’s supposed endorsement of Jackley and his subsequent post about LaFleur’s hacking claim.

    More relevantly, TenHaken’s pal Powers is trying to spin the hacking investigation as a fake story that KELO-TV is flogging for its former reporter, even though multiple other media outlets that never employed Loetscher are reporting the story vigorously.

  7. 96Tears 2018-04-24

    TenHaken’s sleazy threat takes on a chilling new layer when you see him on video:

    Boastful and self-righteous at the same time. This boy can compartmentalize!

    If this is the new face of the South Dakota Republican machine, you better not draw attention to yourself or step out of line. TenHaken is a wealthy, reckless cyber-spook who got recruited to run for mayor. He’s three steps up from Powers in sophistication. A black bag artist with marketable skills. My guess is there are a lot more like him in the state at various stages of development.

    To Don’s point, he’s more like Nixon and G. Gordon Liddy in one package.

  8. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-04-24

    Self-righteousnesss is often the Achilles heel of the fundamentalist; and I am afraid that what has most recently played out in the Sioux Falls mayoral race is further proof of it. But the question becomes whether the citizens of Sioux Falls will heed this lesson?….. And hopefully they will in time.

    I once read that the Y2K scare was originally Nixon’s fault, because he didn’t like computers and he dismissed the potential future problem when warned by aids. But just imagine Nixon with a love for computers and where that could have taken us……And next week, I am afraid, we may begin to experience that greater Nixonian reality, but hopefully not….

  9. Sam@ 2018-04-24

    Jolene needs to improve her internet security- a Mayor candidate in Sioux would be a target by many hackers. Did the Russians do it?

  10. Richard Schriever 2018-04-24

    Sam@ – are you aware that the city of SF does not allow access to its Internet presence from anywhere outside the US?

  11. Matthew Paulson 2018-04-24

    Here is the transcript of the voicemail (below). If this type of voice mail is intimidating and treating to you, you do not have enough fortitude to be mayor.

    “Hey Jo, Paul TenHaken calling um’ just was calling about the calling me out on social here um I was really hoping we weren’t going to go here with this sort of stuff, because I consider you a friend this is not even a story you know that I’m not invading people’s privacy. I was hired by a client to track down somebody who was libeling his family so I’m sorry that it’s gotten to this I obviously have these sorts of tools in my toolbox too but I’m choosing not to use them, ’cause I just don’t think a mayor’s race has to come to this, I’m a little disappointed to be honest with you but I understand that you want to do this, I’ll respond to your post here and post some comments um so just kind of bummed out wish we werent’ coming to this so um anyway I’ll see you later today at the debate.”

  12. Donald Pay 2018-04-24

    Matthew: It is rather intimidating when he says, “I obviously have these sorts of tools in my toolbox, too, but I’m choosing not to use them, ’cause I just don’t think a mayor’s race has to come to this.”

    Of course, he could always choose to use them at another time. It’s pretty sick that he actually did use these sorts of “tools” to invade someone’s privacy. That would be illegal.

  13. Greg 2018-04-24

    It kind of looks Paul TenHaker is going to be another bully like Huether has been for his two terms.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2018-04-24

    Did Huether have the resources to dig up “dirt” on his opponents and the residents of Sioux Falls?

  15. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2018-04-24


    When Paul changed the means of his response via a potential Facebook comment to an actual phone call to Jo, then that is when what he said was no longer just a comment, but rather an intended threat……The change in the conveyance of the message speaks loudly of his intent….. It is what prosecutors would call an example of “consciousness of guilt.”

  16. chris 2018-04-25

    TenHaken really has a lot of micro-expressions going on in these debate forums.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-25

    I’d say his “dirt” comment in the public forum is more intimidating that his phone call. But his phone call is whininess, as he’s still trying to make it sound like Loetscher has committed some grave moral error by publicly criticizing TenHaken. How dare we?!

  18. Sam@ 2018-04-25


    Jolene is not on the city servers, hacks can come from anywhere.

  19. Dicta 2018-04-25

    Neither of the candidates comes out of this looking good.

  20. Steve Pearson 2018-04-26

    Pathetic how you lefties go along with Jolene’s campaign. What a joke. Seems pretty clear to me that she screams “I’ve been hacked” now right before the general election vote because she’s down. And now law enforcement states no sign of hacking. She should lose huge for this and the comments and Corey’s story above just demonstrates more bias when it comes to Democrats in SD. Win by any means necessary.

  21. Dicta 2018-04-26

    No, she comes out of this looking pretty bad. From selective release of segments of the voicemail to the voicemail not really sounding nearly as threatening as she originally made it out to be, she is taking some shots to the gut.

    Sorry to trash your sanctimonious tribalism by not stumping for her.

  22. Roger Cornelius 2018-04-26

    Who is more likely to gather “dirt” on private citizens in Sioux Falls, Jolene or Paul?

  23. mike from iowa 2018-04-26

    Steve P- don’t you just love the way Dems have gerrymandered the state? Don’t you just love the way they legislate new and illegal ways to suppress wingnut votes?

    Dems just now forced SD voters to get new identification to be eligible to vote. They make everyone salute the flag and say the pledge forward and backwards to be eligible to vote. They sure do everything to win, don’t they?

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-26

    “You lefties”—usually a sign that we’re getting a poorly reasoned ad hominem attack from someone not paying attention to things actually being said and projecting national Fox/talk-radio templates on much more complicated local issues.

    Steve Pearson completely ignores my statement in the original post that the voicemail may be a bigger story than the hacking complaint. The voicemail is the public statement, and it’s Paul TenHaken showing an unseemly character by bragging about having collected dirt on everyone but choosing not to use it. Steve, are yo able to square that statement with the kind of good character you want in a leader? That’s a moral question, not a lefty/righty question.

  25. Steve Pearson 2018-04-26

    If it was a Democrat that left that VM you wouldn’t view it that way. Take off your blue glasses because there is no reason to view it that way, you’re wrong. And Jolene has sunk herself with this stupid crap.

    Where do you hear him saying he collected dirt? He said he could use opposition research/tools is what he said. How is that bad? If it was Hillary Clinton saying it you’d be all in agreement.

  26. Roger Cornelius 2018-04-26

    “But Hillary” But Hillary” …………..

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-26

    Hypothetical arguments have no weight. TenHaken left the voicemail. We judge the instance we have before us, not the instances others wish they could imagine and talk about instead.

    If I accepted such hypotheticals, I could negate Steve’s point by saying, “If it was a Democrat that left that VM you wouldn’t be making up hypotheticals to distract us from the egg on the Dem’s face.” But I won’t make that argument, because I have no idea what Steve would do in that hypothetical situation. None of us do… any more than Steve knows what any of us would do in any of his fantasies (ew, gross—another reason not to accept hypothetical arguments).

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-26

    Steve also proves my point about people shouting “you lefties” being hung up on talk-radio tripe and unable to engage concretely on local issues. Hillary?! Really?! Why on green Gaia are we talking about the last Democratic Presidential nominee in a discussion of the 2018 Sioux Falls mayoral race, which is supposed to be a non-partisan office? This is what we get when the SDGOP decides to try taking over mayor’s offices with their flunkies: the SDGOP tries to drive everyone back to their safe Fox News corners instead of thinking about what’s really happening in their local communities.

  29. Roger Cornelius 2018-04-26

    The SDGOP got their marching orders from the RNC/Internet Research Group for the 2018 mid-terms and the 2020 presidential elections.
    Hillary is the cornerstone of both those campaigns even though she isn’t expected to be a candidate. republicans think that “lock her up” was a winning strategy in 2016 and want a redo, that is what we have to look forward to.

  30. Steve Pearson 2018-04-27

    Say what you want Corey and you lefties :) It was a comparison simply, that’s all. Put any Democrat name in and the outcome would be the same. You’d view it differently and not have an issue with it. The key here is the “context” of the situation, or said Voicemail. Jo and Paul are friends, hence the kind of voicemail left. But none of you will view that way because you so desperately want the (R) to hurt and lose you’ll do and say anything.

    At the end day, after all your comments, continued stories via blog page the other side will continue to win here. On election night I will smile when Jolene loses and you are all PO’d.

  31. mike from iowa 2018-04-27

    Steve, I am asking for a friend, do you condone, not condone or heartily condone wingnut party corruption in South Dakota?

    You misunderestimate Cory and many others here. They do not necessarily want Rs to lose, they want honest and open representation, something which your state has seen very little of since wingnuts took total control. If you blindly vote for Rs then you could be part of the problem.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I, mfi, will not vote for a wingnut above the township level. That way they can’t possibly do legislation that enriches the rich and keeps the poor knuckled under.

  32. Steve Pearson 2018-04-27

    SMH, wingnut party? Corruption is rampant in politics on both sides. If I had my way we’d have term limits, money out of politics, the end of “benefits” for public officials that make it a career. BUT NONE of you want that, you just want the progressives in charge. You hide behind this supposed outrage at Republican corruption while ignoring the other side of the coin.

  33. mike from iowa 2018-04-27

    Sorry, Steve, but both sides don’t do it, at least not at the level displayed in South Dakota.

    Take a good look at Drumpf’s cabinet and tell me how many members have sufficient qualifications to run the cabinet program.How many of the nominees perjured themselves before they were approved by wingnuts?

  34. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-27

    You really missed the point, didn’t you, Steve?

    The hypothetical based on human psychology carries no weight compared to the actual situation. None of us can say for sure how any individual will respond to any situation until it happens. You thus prove nothing by speculating about how we’d respond if the individual in question were a Democrat, an Australian, a turtle-lover, a Martian….

    Refuting people’s hypotheticals/fantasies is a fool’s errand, but I can offer some empirical evidence that suggests Steve is mistaken about my willingness to treat differently a Republican and a Democrat committing the same error. Did you read my Sunday post, Steve, about campaign finance transparency? (Probably not, since Steve just came to throw talk-radio punches at lefties and blow smoke for TenHaken, not really learn about a broad set of issues, but leave that aside.) I found Republican Kristi Noem and Democrat Billie Sutton playing the same dirty trick to make their campaign finance reports less transparent. If you were right, I’d have talked about Kristi but either ignored or made excuses for Billie. If I were clever, I’d have thought, “I don’t like Noem’s trick, but Sutton did the same thing, so I’d better just keep quiet about it and not upset members of my own party.” Instead, I posted, roasted Noem and Sutton equally, and praised Republican Marty Jackley for his superior transparency on his donor list.

    So you see, Steve, I just refuted your hypothetical with actual evidence of an actual situation in which I actually dealt with actual equivalent actions taken by an actual Republican and an actual Democrat.

    One empirical example destroys any hypothetical. Your turn.

  35. Steve Pearson 2018-04-30

    Jolene will lose, her HRC mimic arrow designs are sad. She sends dog poop in for testing and claims to be a bio-tech guru and holds press conferences that no one goes to, she looks defeated and then posts it on her webpage. WOW, sad….

    Enjoy Tenhaken’s administration. I know I will.

  36. Dicta 2018-04-30

    She is going to lose, but what you wrote reads like an 8-year-old trying to pick a fight on a playground. Grow up, dude.

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-30

    Winning the endorsement of bullies like Steve makes TenHaken look that much less appealing.

    Maybe that should be our voting paradigm: find out who the bullies like, then vote for the other person.

  38. Steve Pearson 2018-04-30

    Bullies? HA. We already all vote polar opposite, so if you were so smart as you state you would’ve known that already.

    My enjoyment will be mostly like I enjoy Trumps. No HRC. Soon to be no Jolene the HRC wannabe.

  39. Porter Lansing 2018-04-30

    That’s just what Steve Thorson thought. And Steve’s a nice guy. Just got carried away with driving the town’s hot Camaro. This Ten-Hookers guy doesn’t seem to be nice at all. The phone message he left was absolutely intimidating and probably legal blackmail. We’ll see if Sioux Falls is the liberal river town it’s always been, huh Steve Pearson.

  40. Dicta 2018-04-30

    It was not legally blackmailing, come on. First, if I recall correctly South Dakota repealed its extortion law and the law applicable is now Theft by Threat and I don’t know how it is relevant here.

  41. Porter Lansing 2018-04-30

    You, come on. :) Blackmail aka extortion is illegal. If South Dakota Supreme Court took the day off and didn’t rule that removing extortion in favor of some watered down thing was unconstitutional, then that’s what makes it “legal” blackmail.
    The phone message was attempting to make the recipient do something that she had decided not to do. It cited an action that could be taken if she didn’t do as requested. That action is illegal, intimidating and illegitimate. That’s implied extortion.

  42. Dicta 2018-04-30

    What is “implied extortion?” You are making up terms for a behavior that, while gross, isn’t illegal. Here is the applicable SDCL:

    22-30A-4. Theft by threat. A person is guilty of theft if the person obtains property of another by threatening to:
    (1) Inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any criminal offense;
    (2) Accuse anyone of a criminal offense;
    (3) Expose any secret tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or to impair any person’s credit or business repute;
    (4) Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
    (5) Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective unofficial action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
    (6) Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
    (7) Inflict any other harm which would not benefit the person making the threat.

    Apply it to the fact of this case. Or keep just making stuff up, I guess.

  43. Porter Lansing 2018-04-30

    Nice try. No prize. That’s the law that would make it illegal extortion. But, the law’s been bastardized to what you posted above. I’m sure you know what implied means. It means Ten-Hookers was sneaky enough not to get caught but the lady certainly got the drift of what he meant. Don’t mess with me or I’ll ruin you!!
    ~ As the days pass we get closer and closer to the answer of the question, “Why aren’t outsiders welcomed by Republicans?”
    ~ Is it because an outsider will eventually discover how far the legal system in South Dakota has been unconstitutionally moved far away from true, honest and legal center? That there’re laws that smell like the bottom floor of an outhouse? That minorities rights have been pushed under that big rug in Pierre that covers so many injustices and corruption? That something must be done nationally to right these wrongs?
    ~ I think we’re approaching the crux of the biscuit.

  44. Dicta 2018-04-30


    That’s you right now.

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