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Schoenbeck Torpedoes Gosch’s Excuse for Impeachment Delay by Releasing House Petitioners’ Names

On Thursday, Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch blamed his lackadaisical prosecution of the Ravnsborg impeachment investigation on the media, saying that journalists’ lawsuits to get him to release the names of House members who called for the Special Session on impeachment were taking up “a ton of our time.”

On Saturday, Senate President Pro-Tempore Lee Schoenbeck mooted that excuse by releasing the House impeachment-Session-callers’ names himself:

South Dakotans now have a complete record of lawmakers who did and did not support a special session of the Legislature to consider the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck has released to the Argus Leader the petitions formally calling for the special meeting that took place Nov. 9 and established a nine-member panel to investigate Ravnsborg’s conduct surrounding a fatal crash in 2020 [Joe Sneve, “South Dakota Senator Defies House Speaker, Releases Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg Impeachment Petitions,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2021.12.11].

Schoenbeck released the names of the 27 Senators who called for the impeachment Session back in October, thus demonstrating his commitment to transparency and assuring the voters that the Special Session has the constitutionally mandated two-thirds support from his chamber. Schoenbeck now provides us the same assurance that the House convened legitimately, as 49 out of 70 Representatives signed the Special Session petition:

Aylward, Bartels, Barthel, Blare, Bordeaux, Chaffee, Cwach, Davis, Dennert, Derby, Deutsch, Drury, Duba, Finck, Fitzgerald, Goodwin, Gosch, Hansen, Healy, Hoffman, Johnson, Keintz, Koth, Ladner, Lesmeister, May, Milstead, Mortenson, Mulally, Olson, Overweg, Perry, Peterson (Kent), Pischke, Pourier, Reed, Rehfeldt, Reimer, Schneider, Smith, St. John, Thomason, Tidemann, Vasgaard, Weis, Weisgram, Wiese, Willadsen, and York.

Thus, these 21 Representatives did not sign the petition:

Anderson, Beal, Chase, Greenfield (Lana), Gross, Haugaard, Howard, Jamison, Jensen (Kevin), Jensen (Phil), Karr, Marty, Mills, Miskimins, Odenbach, Otten (Ernie), Peterson (Sue), Randolph, Soye, Stevens, and Wink.

All of the abstainers were Republicans. The abstainers include the two Republican House members who have announced primary challenges of statewide GOP incumbents; Steven Haugaard is challenging Kristi Noem for Governor, and Taffy Howard is challenging Dusty Johnson for South Dakota’s U.S. House seat. When the House met for its Special Session on impeachment, the nine of the ten votes against investigating killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg came from non-signers—Gross, Haugaard, Howard, Phil Jensen, Karr, Marty, Mills, Odenbach, and Soye. Overweg was the only Representative to call for the Special Session but vote against investigating Ravnsborg. Eleven of the non-signers still voted for the investigation—Anderson, Beal, Chase, Lana Greenfield, Jamison, Kevin Jensen, Miskimins, Ernie Otten, Randolph, Stevens, and Wink. (Republican Sue Peterson skipped the impeachment Special Session on November 9, as did Democrat Peri Pourier.)

The nine-member committee that Gosch named and leads to lead the impeachment investigation includes three members who did not sign the call petition—Haugaard, Kevin Jensen, and Stevens—and two members who voted against the investigation—Haugaard and Jensen.

Senator Schoenbeck’s release of the impeachment Special Session petitions may not end the lawsuits. The Argus and the South Dakota Newspaper Association also asked for petitions from past Special Sessions, and the Legislative Research Council is still hiding those documents.

But Senator Schoenbeck’s intervention sends a clear message to Speaker Gosch that the Senate (and Senator Schoenbeck is sitting in his Louis XIV chateau on Lake Kampeska whispering, “Le Sénat, c’est moi!“) will not tolerate Speaker Gosch’s dilly-dallying on impeachment. That doesn’t necessarily signal that the Senate will cook Ravnsborg’s goose if/when the House impeaches and sends Ravnsborg to the upper chamber for trial, but it does signal that Senator Schoenbeck plans to deliver swift justice and get on with the Senate’s regular business, and he expects the House to do the same.

22 Comments

  1. grudznick 2021-12-12 10:14

    Mr. Gosch is not equipped to do the speaking in the legislatures. He should be ousted.

  2. Misty 2021-12-12 10:42

    Gosch should not be Speaker. Everything he does is underhanded and dishonest.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-12 11:03

    Perhaps Schoenbeck’s next move is to propose an amendment to make South Dakota’s Legislature unicameral. There’s still time to put amendments on the November 2022 ballot… and since eliminating the House wouldn’t require spending more than $10M, a unicameral amendment wouldn’t be subject to Schoenbeck’s pending 60% rule.

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-12-12 14:30

    I looked up on a satellite image where Schoenbeck built. Bet his basement floods. When I lived in Watertown that land between Kampeska and Lake Pelican was just worthless swamp land. Oh, well. There’s one born every minute … in Webster, anyway.

  5. Allen Jeris 2021-12-12 15:58

    From increasing thresholds to voting against families…just seems like something a commie would do.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-12 17:27

    Allen, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but you do support Senator Schoenbeck’s decision to share information with the public and remove one of the problems that the Speaker was claiming was slowing down impeachment, don’t you?

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-12 17:31

    I disagree with Schoenbeck on various policies, but he plays the game well, and boldly. Schoenbeck exemplifies the kind of smart, interesting Republican the SDGOP used to give us before declining into the cesspool of slow-witted Gosch/Beal/Novstrup/Greenfield/Finck toadies.

  8. grudznick 2021-12-12 18:19

    Now, now, the Messrs. Greenfield and Novstrup, the elder, are interesting Republicans too.
    You just hate Mr. Novstrup, Mr. H, because he is an election machine and people in Aberdeen seem to love him bunches.

  9. Porter Lansing 2021-12-12 18:26

    grudznick psychoanalyzing Cory?

    Mr. Lansing is laughing at grudznick.

    Loud, insulting, and raucous laughing

  10. larry kurtz 2021-12-12 19:39

    Lee Schoenbeck continually reminds us that Catholicism’s a disease.

  11. larry kurtz 2021-12-12 19:57

    Hey Porter, the only reason Schoenbeck doesn’t run for governor is that Pierre is an even worse place to live than Watertown.

  12. Nick Nemec 2021-12-12 20:09

    It is a sad day when the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate has to do the job of the Speaker of the House because the Speaker is afraid of his own members.

  13. grudznick 2021-12-12 20:17

    This speaker, Mr. Nemec, is afraid of his own shadow.

  14. larry kurtz 2021-12-12 20:21

    A pseudonym calling an elected official afraid of his own shadow: priceless.

  15. grudznick 2021-12-12 20:44

    grudznick’s insight is worth more than most can afford, indeed.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-13 06:31

    Nick, also sad is the fact that we have to cheer for the Republican Senate Pro-Tem because he’s the only one in Pierre with the power and courage to do some of the things the state needs done.

    Schoenbeck needs to raise holy heck during Session, keep crushing the House’s nuts in his vise, then on April 1, after securing most of the Senate’s Legislative agenda, announce that he’s leaving the Legislature (like he did in 20216 after saving the teacher pay/sales tax bill) and launch an independent petition drive to run for Governor.

  17. MD 2021-12-13 07:40

    If there has to be a Republican in the governor’s office, Sen. Schoenbeck would be high on my list. True Republicans are hard to find in power these days – he has always struck me that way.

    Too bad South Dakota has voter registration for primaries. In ND, since we don’t have voter registration, your primary ballot has both Republican and democrats on it, and you can only vote within one party or the other. Therefore, a minority party can help form the majority’s candidate listing. I use it to vote against people I don’t like twice (primary and general election) but it can also be used to bring moderate candidates up against the crazy establishment.

  18. Allen Jeris 2021-12-13 09:54

    Cory- yes I do. I find his voting record against shared parenting troubling due to the safe guards in place. He seems to be easily persuaded by the trial lawyers association. I believe they only care about their best interests. Agree or disagree with me, i find it very personal and has cost me everything to keep both parents in my children’s lives. No thanks to him.

  19. O 2021-12-13 11:11

    Misty, so what does that say about the body that elected him? The more sane of the GOP COULD take their House back, but they would have to have the help of the Democrats. So it seems that the GOP has chosen its fate at the national level and state level that governance is not the pathway that party wishes to pursue.

  20. JO 2021-12-13 14:16

    Oh Cory! I appreciate this summation: “Schoenbeck exemplifies the kind of smart, interesting Republican the SDGOP used to give us before declining into the cesspool of slow-witted Gosch/Beal/Novstrup/Greenfield/Finck toadies.”
    After attending grade school and high school with one of those elected, nothing could be more true.

  21. Bob Newland 2021-12-13 18:02

    Oh, it is a sad day indeed when Lee Schoenbeck becomes the great honest-government hope.

  22. grudznick 2021-12-13 18:16

    Mr. Schoenbeck is a voice-of-reason sort, just like grudznick.

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