SDGOP tool Pat Powers has studiously avoided discussing the greatest public health crisis and concomitant economic recession of our time, preferring as usual to merely parrot his dear leaders’ propaganda and engage in cheap political sniping. (Says one of Pat’s sponsors, “If we could just focus on important things, instead of playing politics all the time I think that we would be much better served by those in public office, the media, and out there on social media….”)
Even when he does find something interesting to report on, Powers manages to miss the most interesting part. For instance, Powers has been trying to politically capitalize on pandemic concerns by branding Republicans his establishment sponsors don’t like as anti-vaxxers. This week, Powers is featuring identical postcards attacking incumbents House Majority Leader Lee Qualm (R-21/Platte) and Representative Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea?) for their support for this year’s House Bill 1235, the radical and deadly repeal of school vaccination requirements that failed in House Health and Human Services 2–10. Qualm was prime sponsor; Latterell was a cosponsor.
Both postcards make statements that sound unbelievable coming from Trumpist/Noemist tools like Powers:
- “Legislation Should Be Based on FACTS not FEAR.”
- “Say NO to Anti-Vaxxers, Pseudoscience, Misinformation, Science Deniers… Nonsense, Scare Tactics….”
- “Don’t let disease disrupt our community. We need to stop the spread of fake health information.”
Qualm and Latterell both face primary challenges—Qualm faces nurse and political newcomer Erin Tobin in the District 21 GOP Senate primary, while Latterell is fighting fellow Rep. Herman Otten for the District 6 GOP Senate nomination. But these anti-vaxxer attacks aren’t coming from Qualm and Latterell’s ballot opponents. Powers says nothing about the source of these declarations that Qualm and Latterell constitute a “Public Health Alert”, but if you zoom in close to see the return address in Pat’s pix, there it is: PAC’n Heat, 705 N Sagehorn, Hartford, SD 57033.
PAC’n Heat—that’s former legislator Deb Peters’s political action committee. She quit the House less a month after winning reëlection in 2018. She went to work for the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations; originally she was directing communications, but according to the SDAHO website, Peters is now chief financial officer. Her boss, SDAHO CEO Tim Rave, went to Pierre in February to testify against HB 1235 on behalf of the organization.
Peters didn’t have a lot of money sitting in her PAC purse; her 2019 year-end report showed only $748.32 on hand. That’s less than the cost of one glossy mailing to 2,500 voters, so we should look for PAC’n Heat’s pre-primary report this month (due May 18!) to indicate who of Peters’s political pals and healthcare connections may be helping her wage war against anti-vaxxers in her own party.
One would think that a website dedicated to political sniping and inside baseball even amidst a serious national crisis would shine a light on the connections between Republican primary fights in separate districts being funded by a powerful former Republican legislator with connections to the state’s health-care industrial complex. But Pat’s focus is on doing his establishment sponsors’ bidding, not rooting out the real stories.