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GOAC Would Like to Issue Subpoenas Without Asking Executive Board’s Permission

The Government Operations and Audit Committee is considering taking back some of its power from Legislative leaders. At their October meeting (minutes to be approved at their next meeting December 5), GOAC received and approved a draft bill from Representative Ernie Otten (R-6/Tea) that would strike from SDCL 2-6-4 the recent requirement that GOAC get approval from the Legislative Executive Board to subpoena any documents or witnesses.

That curious subjugation of GOAC’s investigative power to the E-Board came about in 2018 when GOP mainstreamers had an allergic reaction to the efforts of troublemakers like Republican Stace Nelson to use GOAC to investigate Republican shenanigans. GOAC’s October minutes refer to “member disagreements” that led to GOAC’s losing its subpoena authority:

Representation [sic] Otten stated the Committee should not have to ask another Legislative Committee permission to do what it was assigned to do. Representative Peterson stated GOAC is a separate, statutorily created Committee that is not subject to oversight by the Executive Board.… Representative Gross and Senator Schoenfish both agreed that it would be more efficient if the process did not need to be ratified by the Executive Board. Representative Karr believes this draft legislation is a step in the right direction [GOAC, draft minutes, 2022.10.18–19].

GOAC unanimously approved submitting Draft Bill 101 as a committee bill.

While GOAC is making this small stand for its authority, it is not  taking back all of the authority it lost in 2018. The subordination of GOAC to the E-Board was only part of 2018 Senate Bill 125; that legislation also hamstrung GOAC’s subpoena power by prohibiting GOAC from subpoenaing any person or documents to get information “that may be used for a criminal proceeding or to legislatively determine guilt or inflict punishment upon an identifiable person” [see SDCL 2-6-4.2, enacted 2018]. Almost anything that might arouse the interest of a truly diligent investigative GOAC—EB-5, GEAR UP, the state plane, nepotism—will have some potential overlap with questions of whether any laws were broken. Committee hearings on actual bad behavior will inevitably determine that certain identifiable persons are guilty of some bad behavior. Otten’s draft bill leaves in place that broad restriction of GOAC’s subpoena power.

As Rep. Karr said, Otten’s draft bill is a step in the right direction, but it needs to go further to restore GOAC’s power to audit government operations.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-12-01 17:35

    The only transparency in the SDGOP is the ironclad truth that transparency is a myth.

  2. Stace Nelson 2022-12-02 02:56

    As the great Paul Harvey used to say, “and now for the rest the story:” Deb Peters and a corrupt member of the LRC Repeatedly told the Press that they GOAC did not have the statutory authority to issue summons and subpoenas. Despite the fact that I repeatedly provided the then statute, Or press continued to print those lies. The next session she brought this bill to repeal it and throw that roadblock in of the executive board. For those who wish to listen to some entertaining ass chewing, pull up the Senate debate on the bill and you’ll hear myself and send to Russell blasting them for the dishonesty and their cover-up efforts at the corruption. While I was speaking on the Senate floor she was throwing a temper tantrum literally crying and standing up and motioning to Matt Michels to gavel me down and cut me off. After the debate she and a handful of other RINOs met with Michels to discuss throwing me out of the Senate for my opposition to the bill. Michels pointed out that I was not gavel down for being out of order, because I was not out of order, and if they then try to throw me out of the legislature for my floor speech that they would make a bigger martyr out of me then I already was and the news media would be all over the points that myself and Senator Russell made during the floor debate.

    Both Otten and Schoenfish voted for the bill and helped pass the very bill that they now acknowledge was unconstitutional and defeated the purpose of the GOAC.

    I am happy my civic duty is done and It is good to be out of politics and away from such stupidity, rampant corruption, and the poisonous RINOs.

    On a happier note, the weather here in Bangkok is gorgeous.

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