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“Great” God Foils Another Jackley GEAR UP Case

Stacy Phelps is not guilty of any wrongdoing in the GEAR UP scandal. Phelps’s lawyer Dana Hanna appears to accuse some divine being of jury tampering:

“We’ve always maintained his innocence, and we proved it,” Hanna said. “God is great. That’s all I have to say” [James Nord, “South Dakota Jury Clears Ex-Nonprofit CEO in Contracts Case,” AP, 2018.10.12].

Hanna’s deity of choice may be great, but godly man Scott Westerhuis, who stole over a million dollars in GEAR UP grant money that Education Secretaries Rick Melmer and Meoldy Schopp had entrusted to the tiny, rural Mid-Central Educational Cooperative for a decade without rigorous oversight, was thieving scum:

Throughout Phelps’ trial as well as Hubers’ trial, their attorneys made the case that the two trusted Westerhuis and were played by him.

“This case is about an innocent man who finds himself in this courtroom because one day three years ago, he got played by a criminal and a con man,” Phelps’ lawyer Dana Hanna told the jury earlier this week. “Stacy Phelps is here today because he had a secret enemy, Westerhuis” [Dana Ferguson and Danielle Ferguson, “Gear Up Trials Are Over but Scandal’s Legacy to Linger in South Dakota,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2018.10.12].

Attorney General Marty Jackley isn’t great, either. He can stumble to victory in big court cases to take more tax dollars out of our pockets, but he can’t convince a jury to bust anyone for participating in the theft of our tax dollars. In failing to secure the conviction of Stacy Phelps for any wrongdoing in the GEAR UP scandal, our Attorney General also blames the dead guy:

The challenge of this case as always been the lack of Scott Westerhuis. The fact is that the state is unable to present some of the co-conspirators in the cases. That makes it challenging [A.G. Marty Jackley, comments to reporters, in video from that Sioux Falls paper, 2018.10.12].

Jackley says that the justice he can’t secure in the courtroom may be achieved to some degree by supporting transparency and good journalism:

The courtroom isn’t the place to necessarily solve some of these financial type corruption cases. And we talk about transparency—the media has a role. You heard it, some of the trial testimony that when Bob Mercer was poking and prodding, people were noticing. And I think that if we look at these cases, I think the lesson learned is our state needs to look at its transparency, what can we do as a state to be more transparent about that the financial dealings are [Jackley, 2018.10.12].

On transparency, Jackley sounds like his former colleague and imminent successor, Randy Seiler, who recognizes that we need more open government but who also vigorously prosecuted public corruption and promises to do so as our A.G. “from top to bottom.”

15 Comments

  1. Donald Pay 2018-10-13

    Jackley: “The courtroom isn’t the place to necessarily solve some of these financial type corruption cases. And we talk about transparency—the media has a role. You heard it, some of the trial testimony that when Bob Mercer was poking and prodding, people were noticing. And I think that if we look at these cases, I think the lesson learned is our state needs to look at its transparency, what can we do as a state to be more transparent about that the financial dealings are.”

    What he is saying is that corruption has become systematized in South Dakota. No one can be held accountable because it is so much a part of the system that only a few people recognize it as deviant. South Dakota, mainly the Republican leadership of which Jackley has been a large part, has defined deviance down to the point that people expect corruption and scandal as a way of life in South Dakota.

    I used to call what Janklow did in many instances as “drawing an iron curtain of secrecy” around corruption. Everything was hidden, nothing was open and honest. And the sad part was few people stood up and demanded uncorrupt government. You would have thought the Legislature would have done its constitutional duty, but they were drawn deeply into the corruption, too.

    Mercer is a good journalist, but as Janklow’s press person, I doubt he blew much of a whistle, at least publicly, about any shenanigans. That takes people from the outside, and that’s why they don’t want Amendment W to pass.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-13

    I’ll bet Jackley could help with that transparency by telling us what he knows about Richard Benda’s autopsy, the EB-5 meetings, the dealings at Northern Beef Packers, and all the insider horse-trading going on among his Republican Party friends. Marty, call me….

  3. jerry 2018-10-13

    The Benda autopsy indeed. Then show us why Jackley and NOem did not attack one another over the EB5 so much, as they were both involved up to their eyebrows. Somethings are best left underground.

  4. Rorschach 2018-10-13

    If Marty, an experienced trial lawyer, is having trouble winning convictions, imagine how tough it would be for Rvnsbtt, the inexperienced hobby lawyer who has never tried a case to a jury. And you thought he was out of place standing in front of a warthog? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

  5. Debbo 2018-10-13

    Somehow god just doesn’t fit the image of protector of scandal mongers, scandal creators or simply scandalous people.

  6. leslie 2018-10-13

    Debbo i’m not sure Phelps was a crook, from an insider; and HRC is certainly no crook just because it is repeated of course.

    Cory what if the autopsy just shows horrible details that family might have nightmares for the next several decades?
    I choose to believe Jackley cannot be trusted to lawyer for any but as the GOP’s lackey. That is a complete violation to his ethical responsibility to SD residents welfare if I have that right. Perhaps lack of transparency as Doctor David alludes to in a diff thread, is Jackley’s excuse which he now hides behind. BTW I assume his staff won the SCOTUS case more so.

    Blaming the press is trumpism garbage.

  7. Francis Schaffer 2018-10-14

    I wonder why Marty has decided not to begin a process of investigating the catholic diocese of sioux falls and rapid city? I think it is time. Leaving that to the next Attorney General?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-14

    Under Ravnsborg, no one loyal to Dan Lederman would be prosecuted. But no one else would be prosecuted effectively.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-14

    Leslie, the family has already seen the autopsy. Jackley’s opening that autopsy to the press would not add to their nightmares. To the good, opening that document would give the public the facts and could lay to rest unhelpful rumors.

  10. Debbo 2018-10-14

    I know Leslie. I didn’t say they were. I was referring more to the weird idea that god follows every court case and is responsible for who wins, loses, sentencing, etc. Seems more than a bit of a stretch to me.

  11. leslie 2018-10-15

    Debbo, I just wanted to emphasize the questionable nature of the prosecutions. Hard to get a conviction “when the investigation is limited by politics”. I think SD politicians are, oddly, teachers rather than followers of Don the Con.

  12. o 2018-10-15

    I have to wonder what poor athletic team had to loose so God could give his winning push to Dana Hanna.

  13. mike from iowa 2018-10-15

    I’m not up to date on the whole god thingy, but wouldn’t it have been more prudent for a god to stop Westerhuis from killing his entire family? I mean why not be a hero people could really approve of instead of a Drumpf like character on the golf course when all hell breaks loose?

    I find it hard to believe all these bad things happened just so the guilty go free. What other reason could there be?

  14. Debbo 2018-10-15

    Okay Leslie.

    I know Mike!

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-15

    Mike, that’s why I would suggest Attorney Hanna stick with law and not theology. Ascribing greatness to God for the outcomes of human affairs invites exactly your critique, for which there is no satisfying answer. Sparing an innocent man from conviction is pretty cool; saving four innocent children from murder at the hands of their thieving, selfish, and cowardly father would have been really great.

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