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Justice for Frye-Mueller: Hoghouse SB 96 to Redirect Recall Campaign from School Board Members to Legislators

Republican Senators Casey Crabtree and Lee Schoenbeck are justifying the Senate’s suspension of Senator Julie-Frye-Mueller by likening it to the action any employer would take against inappropriate workplace behavior. That analogy fails, of course, because Crabtree, Schoenbeck, and the Senate as a whole are not the employers of Frye-Mueller; the people of South Dakota are. The voters of District 30 hired Frye-Mueller (albeit by a slim, recounted primary majority last June); absent some pretty solid, documented, and published proof, the voters of District 30 ought to be the ones to fire her.

Alas, voters would have to wait until the 2024 elections to fire Frye-Mueller, since the Legislature does not trust the voters with recall power. South Dakota currently only allows voters to recall municipal officials.

But wait—legislators have a splendid opportunity to give up that mistrust and empower the people to decide Frye-Mueller’s fate right now. Senators Crabtree and Schoenbeck could propose emergency legislation to allow voters to recall legislators. There’s even a bill coming up for hearing Tuesday that they could use as a convenient vehicle for this useful reform.

Senate Bill 96 seeks to allow the recall of school board members. SB 96 says a recall petition must state that the targeted school board member has committed misconduct, malfeasance, nonfeasance, crime, impropriety, gross incompetency, corruption, theft, oppression (like banning books?), gross partiality, or conflict of interest in the conduct of official duties. A recall petition would require signatures from 15% of district voters and trigger a recall vote 45 to 60 days after certification.

SB 96 is the only item on the agenda of Senate Education on Tuesday at 9 a.m. There thus would be plenty of time for Crabtree or Schoenbeck to come to committee to hoghouse SB 96 to cover legislators. Replace “board member” with “legislator”, “business manager of the school district” with “county auditor” or Secretary of State”, tidy up a few other details, and we’re in business! Plus, the GOP leaders could add an emergency clause so District 30 voters outraged by Frye-Mueller’s alleged misconduct could start circulating a petition to recall their Senator the moment Governor Noem signs the hoghoused bill. Y’all want due process? What process could be more due than a public referendum on Frye-Mueller’s conduct in office?

Making this hoghouse all the more appealing is the fact that SB 96’s two Senate sponsors are Freedom Caucus pals Tom Pischke and Julie Frye-Mueller.


  1. All Mammal 2023-01-29 12:19

    They are all as phony as the time I skinned a roadkill skunk and used the pelt for cover wherever we snuck off to have our safety meetings. That smelly ol skunk sure followed me a lot back in the day;)

    Some of what makes our country the best is our guarantees for the accused. There are protections from tyrannical government so we’re not kidnapped and thrown into dungeons without due process. How in the heck can a person be punished without reason? The government accountability board set a bad precedent when they kept the governor’s punishment secret for her crime. After that farce, politicians don’t even have to share what a person did to be relieved of their elected post. Scandalously pungent.

    Ms. Frye-Mueller proves that if you bash the governor and her stink-loving flies, the law doesn’t protect you.

  2. Arlo Blundt 2023-01-29 12:59

    The Republicans should thank Providence for Julie Frye Mueller. Now, the can fritter away the entire legislative session, and accomplish nothing, by continuous prosecution of the loose lipped Senator. It’s another “look over there” shiny object ploy.

  3. Donald Pay 2023-01-29 13:43

    I think abuse of staff is an important issue. The staff person should be commended for bringing this up if she felt intimidated or threatened or demeaned by Frye-Muller. Schoenbeck, who I never particularly liked, did the right thing by suspending Frye-Mueller until the issue can be looked, the facts gathered, and appropriate measures taken, if necessary.

    I don’t think this should be looked at as a political matter. It’s important to protect staff, who are, actually, employees of the Legislative Branch.

    Regarding recall, make it apply to everyone.

  4. David Newquist 2023-01-29 14:52

    The irony board needs to get this in their minutes. While Noem and her sucklings are insisting that civics education needs upgrading to the standards of tizzy land (Hillsdale College), some legislative leaders show that they have little notion of who works for whom and what the line of authority is in a democracy. Like many magats, they conceive of officials in a democracy in terms of CEOs and their underlings who largely operate as feudal kings and lords with lots of peasants and serfs to rule (screw) over. Sometimes irony is not very amusing.

  5. grudznick 2023-01-29 19:20

    It seems we are all past the drama of this she-said/she-said mamogram/breast-feeding/covid-vaccine-in-a-baby/tin-foil-hat discussion. It is now a non-event. Take it up with Mr. Holwegener, who does not seem to have to respond to any media or blogger.

    But what is really interesting, is that while Mr. H’s bloggings grow less prolific and less focused on the great state of South Dakota, Mr. PP’s bloggings seem to ge growing in the 3rd-party postings and less original blogging than even Mr. H. He seems to have a cow of cash feeding him now, of which we should not be jealous.

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