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Gov. Noem Gives Lobbyist McCaulley $129K Legal Contract, Forcing Rep. Hansen out of Redstone

Lobbyist and lawyer Matt McCaulley may not have remained in state government after his service on Kristi Noem’s transition team, but he’s still working on the taxpayer’s dime for Governor Noem. On January 5, 2019, Noem’s inauguration day, a contract took effect engaging McCaulley’s Redstone Law Firm to do $129,200 worth of lawyering for the Office of the Governor through June 30, 2019. The contract was signed January 9 by Noem campaign honcho turned chief of staff Herb Jones:

screen cap, Open.SD.Gov, 2019.02.07
screen cap, Open.SD.Gov, 2019.02.07
Signatures of Noem chief of staff Herb Jones, January 9, and Noem transition team leader, lobbyist, and private lawyer Matt McCaulley, January 5, SD state contract #19-0102-002.
Signatures of Noem chief of staff Herb Jones, January 9, and Noem transition team leader, lobbyist, and private lawyer Matt McCaulley, January 5, SD state contract #19-0102-002.

This contract could create a problem for Representative Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids). Hansen started attorneying for Redstone in 2016. He helped Redstone and Big Pharma destroy the prescription drug price cap initiative petition in 2018.

But South Dakota Constitution Article 3 Section 12 says that no “member of the Legislature during the term for which he shall have been elected, or within one year thereafter,” may “be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.”

Hmm… maybe that’s why the Redstone Law Firm no longer lists Hansen as one of its practitioners of dark legal arts:

Redstone Law Firm, online attorneys listing, screen cap 2019.02.07
Redstone Law Firm, online attorneys listing, screen cap 2019.02.07

…and have stuck their Jon Hansen page in “stash” mode:

Redstone Law Firm, Jon Hansen page, screen cap 2019.02.07.
Redstone Law Firm, Jon Hansen page, screen cap 2019.02.07.

…and why on January 9, Rep. Hansen said on his new elected official financial interest statement that, contrary to the employment at Redstone that he declared on his candidate financial interest statement last March, he now works for the Dell Rapids law firm Dell Rapids Law Firm (whose web master still hasn’t added Jon to the head shots).

Note that he can’t go back and work for Redstone right away this spring when Session is done. Hansen would have to sit out from Redstone until at least July 1, when the current contract runs out. But if Governor Noem keeps writing checks to her friend Matt’s law firm after that, Rep. Hansen can’t go to work until at least a year after he leaves the Legislature.

6 Comments

  1. Kal Lis 2019-02-07

    Why does the office of the governor need private legal counsel?

    Official actions by state officials enjoy solid legal protections under South Dakota law. The attorney general should be able to answer questions about legality of a policy or an action.

    There’s the issue about the Sioux Falls event with Trump, but the campaign not the governor’s office should be footing the bill for legal advice for that instance.

    It seems odd that a person who ran on honest government and transparency would see the need for private counsel as governor.

  2. Jenny 2019-02-07

    The SD GOP gravy train is alive and thriving in SD.

  3. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-02-07

    Even Noem realizes that Jason Ravnsborg will be of no legal assistance if anyone in her family gets caught dipping into the cookie jar. Of course, the cookie jar dipping is being done openly as far as we can tell, so far.

  4. mike from iowa 2019-02-07

    129k must be only the retainer fee. A good lawyer (?) could burn through 129k before breakfast with any imagination.

  5. leslie 2019-02-10

    Funny- cird can’t be an anti-grdz any more (inflates).

    But seriously, many law firms, until they get burned, are secular not declaring dem or Republican alliegence and even install an associate in the legislature or boards, just so they can get such contracts from the state. Little state. Few clients. The state is a biggie. Republicans hand out contracts to their buddies (Janklow surrogates). Just look at eb5.

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