Press "Enter" to skip to content

Nelson Wants Four Badges: Milbrandt, Lunzman, Erickson, and Wollmann

Sheriff Mark Milbrandt, campaign Facebook post, 2018.04.23.
Sheriff Mark Milbrandt, campaign Facebook post, 2018.04.23.

Holy cow: Senator and former military law enforcement officer Stace Nelson is seeking the “immediate and permanent revocation of law enforcement certifications” of four South Dakota law enforcement officers. Senator Nelson says he has filed four complaints with the Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training Commission seeking to take the badges of these cops:

  • Brown County Sheriff Mark Milbrandt

    Dave Lunzman, not speaking up about sexual harassment.
    Dave Lunzman, not speaking up about sexual harassment.
  • Brown County Chief Deputy David Lunzman
  • Former Brown County Deputy Ross Erickson
  • Madison City Police Officer Mathew Wollmann

Milbrandt, Lunzman, and Erickson were all involved in the improper retaliation against former Division of Criminal Investigations officer and sexual harassment whistleblower Laura Zylstra Kaiser. That misconduct cost the state $1.2 million. Wollmann abused his power as a state legislator by boinking Legislative interns. That sexual misconduct cost Wollmann his District 8 House seat.

Officer Mathew Wollmann, Madison PD, posted to MPD Twitter, 2018.11.07.
Officer Mathew Wollmann, Madison PD, posted to MPD Twitter, 2018.11.07.

Nelson poignantly and appropriately compares the grave misconduct of these four policemen with the sexually inappropriate behavior that cost Marshall County Sheriff Dale Elsen his law enforcement certification last December. Elsen is fighting that revocation.

I publish in full Senator Nelson’s full press release on his effort to strip the badges of these four cops, plus his links to each complaint and press reports surrounding the officers’ past misconduct:

Four sworn complaints were recently filed with the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office Law Enforcement Officer Standards & Training Commission seeking the immediate and permanent revocation of law enforcement certifications of Brown County Sheriff Mark Milbrandt (R), Brown County Chief Deputy David Lunzman (R), former Brown County Deputy Ross Erickson, and recently hired Madison police officer Mathew Wollman (R).

The Commission made news in December 2018 when it charged and subsequently revoked Marshall County’s Sheriff Dale Elsen’s (D) SD law enforcement certification for making inappropriate sexual comments.  In December 2017, a U.S. Court judge awarded former DCI Special Agent Laura Kaiser over $1.5 Million in damages and costs against the state of South Dakota in a verdict stemming from sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation suffered by Kaiser while working jointly with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.  Governor Noem’s 2018 Republican primary win over former Attorney General Marty Jackley is credited by many to Noem’s negative campaign TV ads in which Noem used the Kaiser court judgement to mock Jackley being tough on crime and attacked Jackley for dismissing and ignoring Kaiser’s complaints.  Despite these facts, neither the Commission nor Governor Noem filed complaints with the Commission to address the notorious illegal and unethical conduct of the offending officers who cost the state of South Dakota over $1.5 Million.

The Commission was the subject of recent Legislative hearings in SB127.  Legislators and former law enforcement officers expressed concerns publicly and in private that there appears to be a double set of standards in how the Commission deals with persons who are politically connected.

“The illegal actions highlighted in these four filed complaints make the misconduct Sheriff Elsen’s was accused of, pale in comparison.” Said Senator Stace Nelson (R-Fulton) who filed the complaints.  “There is nothing worse in law enforcement than bad cops.  Allowing people who have been proven to be dishonest and unethical, to remain in authority over the public as law enforcement officers, defeats the whole purpose of the Commission and is a massive failure to protect South Dakotans.”  South Dakota has witnessed some significant criminal cases involving law enforcement officers in the news over the last several years.  Some are concerned that it is a symptom of failings in our Commission to police the police and of ensuring SD’s law enforcement employment standards are properly adhered to. “We have a new Attorney General with Jason Ravnsborg and the Commission under him will be staffed with his new appointments.  We briefly discussed concerns about these problems and he expressed willingness to review the Commission to see where it can be improved upon to ensure efficient, fair, and consistent high law enforcement standards of conduct are being equally enforced across South Dakota.”

Senator Nelson is a retired NCIS federal agent, and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The filed full complaints can be downloaded here:–huMVkjmacPs7X7LDQ4KXgNLfb8MIwd

Information about Kaiser lawsuit on Noem’s campaign site:

Noem’s TV ads attacking Jackley:

Some of the news coverage of scandal involving disgraced former legislator Mathew Wollman (see complaint):

[Senator Stace Nelson, press release, 2019.03.21]


  1. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-21 13:12

    Among some pointed statements in the Wollmann complaint: Senator Nelson says that immediately following a Legislative rules hearing on January 11, 2017, just days before Wollmann’s misconduct became public, Representative Don Haggar approached Senator Nelson “and reported that complaints were previously filed against Mathew Wollmann’s [sic] for sexual misconduct with interns and stated that Wollmann was a ‘sexual predator.’

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-21 13:16

    Senator Nelson also asserts that Wollmann’s misconduct hit the press, “several former interns” told him they “witnessed Wollmann illegally giving udnerage female interns alcoholic beverages (shots) while in the local Pierre bars with him and that Wollmann had sexual contact with one female intern when she was so intoxicated that she could not have legally consented.”

    These statements, of course, are hearsay. Senator Nelson says the interns are understandably concerned about retribution (just like Laura Zylstra Kaiser faced)… but to press these charges, beyond the offense of abusing his power to these specific allegations of illegal activity, Senator Nelson will need to bring these eyewitnesses out to speak on the record.

  3. El Rayo X 2019-03-21 13:32

    Maybe these four guys should have paid their victims some hush money, then Sen. Nelson would support them wholeheartedly.

  4. grudznick 2019-03-21 13:38

    Bah. Did anybody ask the interns if they wanted to boink? Maybe these interns liked to boink. If not where was the LRC on this? They run the show.

  5. DR 2019-03-21 14:37

    Not sure what Nelson’s beef with Wollman is. From my understanding, he was in a relationship with the intern before she became an intern. Its not like he grabbed her by the you know what. It was consensual and he violated no laws that I am aware of.

  6. Robin Friday 2019-03-21 15:25

    There is certainly a law (or laws) against anyone providing underage persons alcohol. Also very bad for the credibility of a legislator to be seen doing so in public. And if there isn’t a law against legislators sexually fraternizing with interns, there certainly should be. As for Madison hiring him as police chief, probably a catastrophe waiting to happen, but I suppose that’s up to them.

  7. Debbo 2019-03-21 15:39

    If the interns are underage of consent it’s a criminal act. In most states an intoxicated person cannot give consent. Of course we are talking SD here.

    Regardless of actual crimes, their behavior is reprehensible and does not belong in LE where they are supposed to protect ALL the public, not harass or rape some of them if they feel like it.

    This is an opportunity for the SDGOP to do the right thing or publicly flaunt its misogyny.

  8. Debbo 2019-03-21 15:40

    I applaud Sen. Nelson for doing this and I have a bad feeling about the outcome.

  9. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-03-21 16:23

    On wildy disparate occasions, Nelson can apparently think straight.

  10. David Newquist 2019-03-21 16:59

    The center of law enforcement misconduct was the DCI, which played a prominent role revealed in the Mette and subsequent Schwab-Taliaferro cases. That misconduct is a matter of court records, not just news reports and political advertisements.

  11. Shirley Schwab 2019-03-21 18:15

    Thank you David Newquist for your post and reminder of the facts.

    Stay focused on the current complaints. There will be more to come.

  12. Rorschach 2019-03-21 18:55

    It’s a shame that there still has been no accountability for those who perpetrated the Schwab/Taliaferro fiasco and the Kaiser discrimination. The only ones punished for anything are the victims and the taxpayers.

  13. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-03-21 20:01

    I have watched numerous actions and testimony by DCI agents. One shade away from professional criminals, and sometimes not that far away.

  14. Adam 2019-03-21 22:05

    This, again, proves that Stace Nelson has more investigative capacity, guts and integrity than nearly every other Republican in the South Dakota state legislature.

    Republicans in Pierre specialize in pretending to care about real issues and being lazy AF -while people like Stace actually CARE about doing the HARD work that truly NEEDS to be done.

    I support Sen. Stace Nelson 200% on revoking these officers’ badges. I’m a 200 percenter on this one!

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-21 22:49

    DR, it’s not the one he married that’s the problem. Read Nelson’s complaint: getting an underage intern drunk, trying to bed all of the interns, and having sexual relations with subordinates while holding elected office—all bad, and the alcohol part illegal.

    Dale Elsen’s conduct is disqualifying, said the state board. Wollmann’s conduct is worse.

  16. leslie 2019-03-22 02:59

    Stace is acting kinda like Democratic hero Rep Adam Schiff, CA!

    Mueller is swimming upstream against every obstacle Trump thinks of while watching TV to obstruct election collusion investigation. Like these cops during the DCI investigation.

    Schiff is uncovering Trump’s motivations NOW as he manipulates national and foreign policy .NBC, Georgetown Prof Lederman, DailyKos,

  17. Daniel Buresh 2019-03-22 08:25

    A 22 year old having relations with a 19 yr old and then eventually marrying each other. Oh the horror! I am sure glad no one bought me beer at 19. Wait, my father did when I was 18 because as he put it, you can vote, you can die on the battlefield, by God you can have a beer. Sure, there are some ethical and legal questions but at what point do we forgive those young adult decisions? I’ve made mistakes that I hope don’t follow me forever. Should we not do the same for others? Has Wollmann not served his sentence being disgraced in the public eye and losing his position of power? Will you forever brand him for those choices? I think a lot of you sound very pompous and holier than thou and make it sound like you have never made a mistake at that age. This isn’t a 50 yr old taking advantage of college aged interns. These are young adults doing what most young adults do, just one happened to be an elected official. If he is a sexual predator, then about 90% of the people I went to college with could be classified as such. If your life at that age didn’t involve a few alcoholic beverages and some bad choices, I feel sorry for you.

  18. mike from iowa 2019-03-22 09:41

    but at what point do we forgive those young adult decisions? I’ve made mistakes that I hope don’t follow me forever.

    Henry Hyde and dumbass dubya’s youthful indiscretions lasted well into their 40s and William Jefferson Clinton got impeached for lying about an affair with a woman young enough to be his daughter, although she was well above the age of consent and her and Clinton’s affairs were nobody’s business.

  19. happy camper 2019-03-22 11:20

    Buresh makes the most sense is there no such thing as redemption? No second chances? He’s a cop not a Chief of Police that’s service to the public and not a million dollar salary by any means. He was too young to be in the legislature. Do you believe in science? The rational part of a teen’s brain does not develop until age 25 or so that prefrontal cortex thing.

  20. John Tsitrian 2019-03-22 11:40

    Is there any sense of how the residents in the jurisdictions of these officers feel about the situation?

  21. happy camper 2019-03-22 11:45

    Exactly Tsitrian why is Nelson making this his business? Wollman is a cop willing to serve in a small town this is a local matter.

  22. bearcreekbat 2019-03-22 12:03

    Daniel and hap offer a redemption argument that makes a great deal of sense. Trouble is, we tend to fall into a trap that causes us to overlook that argument. The superficially attractive, but easily misapplied, argument is that we must treat every offender the same.

    Here, that argument flows from the fact that “Marshall County Sheriff Dale Elsen [lost] his law enforcement certification last December” for similar misconduct. Hence, the argument goes, Wollman and the others identified in Nelson’s complaint, should suffer the same consequences.

    While on the surface that argument seems logical, there are at least two flaws in the premises.

    First, it is premised on the proposition that Elsen was treated fairly. In fact, that premise could easily be untrue or unsound. Two conflicting principles are at play – (1) we do not seek to impose excessive punishment for any offense; and (2) everyone should be treated the same under the law. It seems impossible to reconcile these two values – one must give way. Either when someone is punished excessively for an infraction everyone else who commits that infraction should receive excessive punishment, or when someone is punished excessively for an infraction, no one else should be subjected to such excessive punishment. The objection to excessive or unfair punishment is pretty much universal in our culture (see generally, e.g., the 8th Amendment, although I am not arguing that a violation has occurred in this case), hence the the 1st premise seems to fall apart as self-contradictory.

    Second, it is premised on the proposition that the offenses are identical, and the culpability of each offender is identical. Again, we all know that neither premise is sound as there are always differences in what occurs and in the reasons that led up to the occurance, or followed it, as well as in the history and characteristics of the people involved. Imposing identical sanctions without considering individual circumstances is a classic recipe for causing an unfair result.

  23. Rorschach 2019-03-22 15:46

    Whatever Wollman did as a legislator happened before he earned his law enforcement certification and before he ever became a police officer. It was known when he got his LE certification and when he got hired. Unless Wollman has engaged in misconduct as a police officer, Sen. Nelson’s complaint against him is without merit. Sen. Nelson should have focused on the others instead of watering down his legitimate complaints with this illegitimate one.

  24. grudznick 2019-03-22 17:48

    Mr. Nelson hates the young Mr. Wollmann because the young fellow wouldn’t cow toe to Nelson’s demands and his required Oath of Fealty. Those who don’t take the Oath dare not use the stalls behind the chambers without an escort/witness.

  25. Adam 2019-03-23 00:22

    “Wollman is a cop willing to serve in a small town this is a local matter.” – happy camper

    Just simply being ‘willing’ to be a cop in a ‘small town’ makes this a ‘local matter’?

    Sometimes, some people don’t deserve a second chance – like rural Americans – abolish the Electoral College.

  26. mike from iowa 2019-03-23 08:39

    Will Wollman leopard cum policeman change his spots or will the leopard be a leopard?
    Seems to me whether you consider Wollman to have poor judgement or being a sexual predator, his past disqualifies him from serving every bit as much as being a woman disqualifies her from having an abortion- according to South Dakota.

  27. Lindsey Milbrandt 2019-03-23 17:48

    Seriously…get over the Kaiser BS she got her million and leave these men to do the job that they need to do…I not quite sure what Mr. Nelson has any business in Brown County anyway….go away

  28. Debbo 2019-03-23 21:07

    “leave these men to do the job that they need to do…”

    Well Lindsey, apparently that job was making life entirely miserable for women and even committing criminal acts against them. You’re okay with that? Or do you think Kaiser was the only one and they’ve never mistreated another woman before that and will never be so crude and cruel to another woman again? That was just a bizarre one off that all of them felt at once and then it was gone from all 3 at once?

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-23 22:38

    Ror, I dig what you’re saying about timeframe… but I’m not sure the rules on law enforcement certification does.
    See ARSD 02:01:02:01: Item 4 says “is of good moral character.” How do we know moral character? Do our past actions speak to our moral character? What is the statute of limitations on past actions serving as evidence of current moral character?

    See ARSD 02:01:02:02: No one convicted of a felony may be employed or certified as a police officer. People convicted of a misdemeanor (misdemeanants, a word I learn from this rule!) remains eligible but will be reviewed. I see no timeframe there saying the crimes in question only matter if committed while serving as a cop.

    Are complaints about law enforcement certification limited strictly to conduct while employed as a cop?

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-23 22:42

    Lindsey, the jury appears not to have considered Kaiser’s charges BS.

    As for Nelson’s interest, I am curious: are there any rules about who has standing to bring a complaint against a law enforcement officer in South Dakota?

    Consider Korey Ware’s situation: he committed assault in Brown County in October. He was Roberts County sheriff-elect. Could only a resident of Roberts County file a complaint to the standards board? Or could any person involved in the Brown County assault alert the standards board? Could any South Dakotans rightfully do so?

  31. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-23 22:47

    ARSD 02:01:11:03 says “A person may file a complaint requesting the revocation or suspension of the certification of a law enforcement officer.” The rule says nothing about the person’s residency or connection with the subject of the complaint other than knowing and presenting “relevant facts.”

  32. Adam 2019-03-23 23:46

    Majority of conservatives think justice is muck raking.

  33. mike from iowa 2019-03-24 17:13


  34. Francis Schaffer 2019-03-25 08:31

    Redemption and second chances. I believe in both, yet it really only works for me when I seek forgiveness from all those I have offended and change my behavior. Words matter, actions matter more; at least to me.

  35. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-25 12:23

    Do individuals empowered to act as agents of the state perhaps deserve limited redemption and forgiveness compared to what we offer the friends and relatives in our personal lives?

  36. Adam 2019-03-25 12:46

    Yes, Cory, they do.

    If while serving as law enforcement, you fundamentally break the law and abuse your authority – then your ability to enforce the law is extremely unreliable and limited at best.

  37. Francis Schaffer 2019-03-25 16:24

    Only if amends are made and a life is reformed, just like those in my personal life.

  38. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-25 21:06

    Francis, I can imagine forgiving an errant relative for some misdeed but also making darn sure he never carries a gun around me and never holds a public office. Grace has proper limits.

Comments are closed.