Senate President Pro-Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Watertown) made public the names of the 27 Senators who signed the letter calling for the November 9 Special Session to consider impeaching killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham) continues to keep secret the names of the House members who supposedly called for that Special Session, thus leaving the public unable to confirm that Speaker Gosch received the written request of two thirds of his members that Article 3 Section 31 of the South Dakota Constitution requires to call a Special Session.
The South Dakota Newspaper Association and that Sioux Falls paper are taking Speaker Gosch to court—the South Dakota Supreme Court!—to rectify that error:
“It’s inexcusable for Speaker Gosch to continue hiding this information from the public,” Argus Leader News Director Cory Myers said, noting attempts to work with Gosch and his private attorney to resolve the matter were unsuccessful. “There’s a constitutional requirement to record legislative votes, and at the very least, an obligation of elected servants to be transparent about their processes.
“This is basic accountability, and that’s something we will always fight for,” he added.
…Following the filing of the lawsuit, SDNA executive director David Bordewyk said it’s imperative that basic government information be open for public inspection, including official votes that trigger Legislative action.
“That especially includes the action take by legislators to consider this special session,” he said. “These are unique circumstances — legislators considering impeachment proceedings. All the more reason why any and all official actions related to this must be public.”
The lawsuit being brought against Gosch requests the Supreme Court not only compel the release of the House vote on the impeachment special session, but also to halt the special session from going forward until the litigation is resolved [Joe Sneve, “South Dakota House Speaker Sued for Keeping Attorney General Special Session Vote Secret,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2021.10.13].
As Bordewyk says, the Legislature is convening to consider removing an elected official from office. Such a negation of the will of the people (yes, we really did elect that schmuck Ravnsborg) requires absolute transparency from the Legislature. The written requests that legislators signed to petition for a Special Session are not mere correspondence or behind-the-scenes chit-chat that Speaker Gosch can keep secret under South Dakota’s already overloaded exceptions to open records laws; they are vital public documents authorizing Legislative action. Such documents must be available to the public to prove the Legislature is acting constitutionally.