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Neither Milbrandt Nor Kaiser Gets My Endorsement for Brown County Sheriff

I submitted the following letter to the Aberdeen American News on Wednesday; my local paper runs this letter on today’s opinion page. I copy the letter here, with links added for more Internet enjoyment.

A Rapid City PAC and an anonymous Aberdeen Facebook group have circulated the claim that I have endorsed Mark Milbrandt for Brown County sheriff. This claim is false. I endorse no one in the Brown County sheriff’s race.

I have not endorsed Mark Milbrandt and will not. Sworn testimony in court last December from Milbrandt and from DCI agents indicate loyalty to a good-old-boys network that treats sexually offensive conduct as joking around that women shouldn’t complain about. Former DCI agent Laura Zylstra Kaiser was sexually harassed by two Brown County deputies; Sheriff Milbrandt punished neither of his deputies, and after the second complaint, he pushed DCI to get rid of Zylstra Kaiser.

I have a wife and a daughter. I support equal rights for women. I thus cannot endorse a public figure who, far from taking sexual harassment seriously, treats the complaining victim as a lying trouble-maker.

However, I am not endorsing Dan Kaiser for sheriff, either. Kaiser promotes another ugly strain of discrimination, against new Americans. He proudly attends local anti-refugee hate rallies. At the May 9 candidates’ forum, Kaiser mischaracterized these ugly propaganda programs as “educational” and implied that Muslims threaten America with widespread support for pedophilia.

I am dedicated to promoting Brown County, telling the truth, and defending the Constitution. I thus cannot endorse a public figure whose religious and thinly disguised racial discrimination harms our community’s image and economic development and runs counter to fact and the 14th Amendment.

Both Milbrandt and Kaiser express regressive views that leave many of our neighbors wondering if local law enforcement will provide them equal protection under the law. Neither candidate deserves our votes for sheriff.


  1. mike fom iowa 2018-06-01

    Damn well said. Now watchout for the koyote kerfluffle attack from resident trolls.

  2. Jason 2018-06-01

    Not wanting refugees in your city is not hate.

  3. bearcreekbat 2018-06-01

    For once I think I almost agree with a comment by Jason: “Not wanting refugees in your city is not hate.” Rather than “hate” such attitudes are based upon irrational fear, absence of empathy, and a general disregard of the humanity of others. I had to qualify by saying “almost,” however, as many people can be led to develop a hatred for what they are told to fear.

    Basing decisions on irrational fear and these other factors has had tragic consequences in the past, and will likely hurt many innocent people down the road. See e.g.

  4. Jason 2018-06-01

    It’s not fear. It’s about fiscal responsibility.

  5. mike fom iowa 2018-06-01

    Refugees settle down, get jobs, pay taxes, contribute to their communities, leave others alone, work hard and piss of wingnuts to no end. What’s not to like?

  6. Jason 2018-06-01

    I don’t see Cory or Mike offering to pay for them. They expect other people to. Each city can decide what they want to do with their money.

  7. bearcreekbat 2018-06-01

    Selfishness is often a product of fear that by helping others you might not have as much for yourself. A city unwilling to spend resources to help those in need is acting out of fear.

  8. Jason 2018-06-01

    Are you offering to pay Bear?

  9. bearcreekbat 2018-06-01

    I am not feeding any trolls today. I will consider comments addressing whether my suggestions are accurate. In my view, most people who spread hate and selfishness are acting out of irrational fear.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-01

    I agree with BCB’s characterization of Kaiser’s resistance to refugees as selfish. I will also contend that it really is hate. Not wanting refugees in Aberdeen is not only code for racist and bigoted hate but also un-American, un-Christian, and, within Kaiser’s own worldview, illogical. There are most certainly oppressive, violent, theocratic regimes. Refugees evidently share Kaiser’s loathing of that oppression, violence, and theocracy and want to come to America, yet Kaiser and the Aberdeen hate group would shut America’s doors to those refugees who share the core American values under discussion.

    Selfish. Un-American. Un-Christian. Illogical. That’s Kaiser and Aberdeen’s hate group.

  11. Nick Nemec 2018-06-01

    The employers of those refugees will pay them a wage. I get sick of the logical disconnect of people complaining there aren’t enough people to fill all the jobs available and with the next breath complaining about new people coming to the community.

  12. Jason 2018-06-01

    Why are refugees getting money from the State then Nick?

  13. Roger Cornelius 2018-06-01

    What department of the state is giving refugees money?

  14. bearcreekbat 2018-06-01

    Cory may be right about hate, yet mentally fit people don’t hate others for no reason.

    Since these are refugees who the haters have never met and who have never harmed the haters, it seems to suggest anger isn’t the root cause of the hatred.

    And it is likely that the hated refugees are worse off financially than most haters, so jealousy seems absent as the source of hate. Even selfishness doesn’t provide a rational reason to hate anyone else.

    If not irrational fear, then what would be the reason for the hatred of other groups, Cory?

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-01

    BCB, may I overlap your “irrational” critique with my “illogical” critique? Kaiser and the hate-rally-goers are making claims that don’t make sense even within their own professed worldviews.

    There is anger down in their depths. Anger (anxiety?) about change, maybe anger about other economic stresses, maybe anger about losing privilege.

    Jealousy vs envy—we may make a useful distinction here. We get jealous about things we have; we get envious about things others have. The hatred directed at refugees certainly isn’t envy, because generally refugees are worse off than us “natives”: generally speaking, they’ve left their homes and families, left everything familiar, given up jobs and careers and social capital to start over here. The refugees aren’t living in big houses and driving Cadillacs… yet. But there is jealousy: we have America, and too many of my neighbors aren’t willing to share. They see America as a zero-sum game, thinking that if refugees come get a piece of America, the rest of us lose a piece. That zero-sum perspective is, of course, wrong: the only thing we lose by welcoming new Americans is seeing people who look just like us everywhere we go… and even that might be better characterized as a gain.

    I’m not saying any of the negative feelings Kaiser affirms among my neighbors are rational… but we can explain them and should definitely critique them.

  16. bearcreekbat 2018-06-01

    Perhaps “illogical” is a more precise and accurate term than “irrational,” since we don’t always come to logical conclusions by exercising our reason. And jealously seems to be one of the uglier heads on the selfishness Hydra.

  17. mike fom iowa 2018-06-01

    Haters watch too much Faske Noize, Drumpf, dead Breitbart, Alex Jones, etc.

  18. Roger Cornelius 2018-06-01

    How much of this ant-refugee movement based on white supremacy?
    In the past few weeks we have seen a rash of white people attacking people of color simply because they are a different color.
    The woman calling the police on a black family barbequing in a public park, another white woman telling a retired Asian military officer telling at him “to go back where you came from” while making fun of his eyes. The list of these assaults goes on and on.

  19. Donald Pay 2018-06-01

    Roger asks the question, “What department of the state is giving refugees money?” So far, crickets on that question. I’d also like Jason to address how much money each department is giving, out of what funds is that money coming, and what is the money going toward.

    A lot of what Jason and others say has a very tenuous connection to reality. They hear this stuff on righty media, and think it’s from the Good Book. They throw out a lot of incendiary opinions, but have no real facts to back them up. You would think, for all his concern on the fiscal impact of this issue, he would be able to come right back with all the facts.

    There are estimates that an average figure comes to around $64,000 per refugee. Many years we pay individual American welfare farmers considerably more than that. Maybe Jason should direct his ire at Kristi Noem and the like.

    Nearly all of the money spent on refugees is federal money and involves the cost of having an office to actually have a refugee program, the upfront costs for vetting, etc., not from actual cost of the refugee once they get here. Refugees may get the cost of a ticket, but they are supposed to repay it.

    I would expect most funds for any benefit programs are also passed through the state from federal sources. That would make refugees and immigrants like your average German American or Norwegian American person down on their luck. Maybe Jason thinks those people should go back from where they came, too, but most of us realize that today’s down and out person might be a future J.K. Rowling or Bruce Springsteen, both once on the dole.

    I look at immigrants and refugees as our society’s investment in a future that our children will benefit from. If we do it right, and try to build people up, take them out of trying times and poverty and let them reach for the American dream, they respond, just like our grandparents did. And we all are better for it.

  20. Debbo 2018-06-01

    Minnesota has more Hmong people than anywhere else in the US. We have a very large Somali population. There are many other immigrants. Those immigrants have saved several small towns by working at manufacturers that would have closed otherwise for lack of employees.

    Small towns are engaging entire willing white populations in classes about their immigrants’ cultures because those towns Really Want their immigrants to stay. They are fully cognizant of how badly those folks are needed. Immigrant children fill their classrooms so their schools stay open. Immigrant families shop in their local stores. Immigrants are famously entrepreneurial, opening small businesses, raising the tax base.

    I recently saw a breakdown of the stats in Minnesota, and immigrants spend less time on state and federal aid programs than US citizens. A drive down Lake Street in Minneapolis or University in St. Paul reveals business after business with a non-Anglo name. The number of empty store fronts has plummeted.

    The anti-immigrant extremists don’t want any of this known, but immigrants are still as good for the US as they always have been.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-06-02

    White supremacy, Roger? Yes, that’s part of the anti-refugee push. Trump has normalized white-supremacist behavior. He affirms it with his thuggish approach to public discourse. He brings out the worst in Americans. We need leaders who stand up to hate in all of its forms, not just to ensure they carry out their duties fairly, but so they set an example from their highly visible public position for everyone else in society. We really do need leaders to exhibit the highest moral character.

  22. Jason 2018-06-02

    Cory […continues to edit Jason’s posts because he isn’t adding anything constructive to discussion of the topic presented and instead keeps trying to pull us off-topic to his preferred handful of hobbyhorses. He’s like the typical political candidate who essentially ignores any specific question offered at a debate and turns the conversation back to one of his three rehearsed talking points. Boring, unenlightening, and lazy. —CAH]

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