In 2017, the Legislature created the Government Accountability Board as one of its sops to an electorate outraged by the Republican leaderships repeal of Initiated Measure 22. The Government Accountability Board, a pale substitute for IM 22’s statewide ethics commission, is required by SDCL 3-24-10 to “annually report to the people, the Governor, and the Legislature on its activities. The report shall include data regarding any allegations of violations of subdivisions of § 3-24-3, including the number of reports filed, complaints received, number of unique persons filing complaints or reports, and hearings conducted by the board. The board may not disclose information that is not subject to disclosure under chapter 1-27 or pursuant to § 3-24-4.” That latter controlling statute says, “The information, reports, or complaints and the investigative records and files of the board are confidential and not a public record according to chapter 1-27 until the board votes in favor of conducting a contested case hearing.”
So what do we get to hear from the GAB? Here’s their first annual report, approved at their January 22, 2018, meeting:
GAB members acknowledged at their January meeting that it’s a “bare-bones” report, but members felt they provided exactly what statute asks for and avoided “dressing up” their report as other boards do.
So far, GAB minutes show three complaints: GAB dismissed one as outside of its jurisdiction due to the alleged misconduct predating GAB’s statutory existence, delayed action on a second, and declared a third outside of its jurisdiction and referred it to DCI.
The GAB meets Wednesday morning, 9 a.m., in the Minnehaha County Commission chamber in the county admin building in Sioux Falls to discuss unitemized new business and confidential pending complaints.
Section 15 of Amendment W, on our November ballot, would nullify the Government Accountability Board and replace it with a new independent citizen ethics commission.