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State Settlement Violates Constitution—Castleberry Must Wait Until 2026, Not August 2024, to Take State Contracts

The state went after former District 35 Senator Jessica Castleberry from Rapid City for taking $603K in coronavirus relief funds under a state contract while she was in office. Article 3 Section 12 of the South Dakota Constitution says a legislator may not “during the term for which he [pronoun fix coming in 2024] shall have been elected, or within one year thereafter, be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.” Castleberry violated that constitutional provision and resigned in disgrace last week, agreeing to pay back, with interest, the $499K that Attorney General Marty Jackley found directly benefited Castleberry’s daycare business.

But wait a minute—the state’s settlement with Castleberry said she could seek state contracts again after she has been out of the Legislature for one year. That phrasing suggests the state would let her seek state contracts one year after her resignation, which she tendered on Thursday, August 17. But Article 3 Section 12 doesn’t mention resignation or other non-fatal removal from office. Article 3 Section 12 prohibits state contracts with legislators for one year after the term for which the legislator has been elected. The no-contract clock starts ticking when legislators are sworn in for their first Session in January, runs the full two years of that term, and runs another year past that. Effectively, Article 3 Section 12 requires every legislator elected in 2022 and sworn in on January 10, 2023, to refrain from taking state contracts until January 14, 2026. That state-contract wait lasts that long whether current legislators serve out their full current terms but don’t run for reëlection in 2024 or choose to resign prior to the beginning of the 2025 Session.

Jessica Castleberry was elected last November to a Legislative term that began on January 10 of this year and was to run until January 14, 2025. Even if she had resigned on January 11 of this year, before she voted on anything in the 2023 Session, she still can’t sign any contract with the state until one full year after the end of the term for which she was elected. That’s not August 17, 2024, as the settlement published by the Attorney General suggests. That’s January 14, 2026.

Attorney General Jackley, like Jessica Castleberry, has sworn an oath to support the state Constitution. But Attorney General Jackley has signed off on a settlement attempts to short-circuit the constitutional prohibition of state contracts with legislators elected in 2022 until 2026. No legal settlement can override the South Dakota Constitution. Jessica Castleberry has to sit out of the hunt for state pork for two years and five months.


  1. grudznick 2023-08-20 08:53

    Isn’t Ms. Castleberry’s signed contract to pay back the money in violation of these very same laws?
    A conundrum, which will be debated in length at the Conservatives with Common Sense Breakfasting, along with an open floor to toss people’s names in the hat for possible replacement suggestions to Governor Noem.

  2. All Mammal 2023-08-20 08:58

    How very privileged of them. Just really white South Dakotans doing really white South Dakota things. That is all.

    Thanks to the long, strong tradition of these sort of actions, folks will soon use the term, “SoDak white,” in other places to describe systemic dickheadedry.

    MJ and JC, stop being so SD white and follow the rules like you expect the rest of us to.

  3. Richard Schriever 2023-08-20 08:59

    I had the same impression Mr. grudz, that is that Jackley and Mrs. Castleberry have negotiated a “contract” between herself and the state, in lieu of her being charged for the actual crime she committed. I suppose, so long as it is within the ONE PARTY ruling class, contracts are an optional solution to crime.

  4. Jake Kammerer 2023-08-20 09:08

    “Tick Tock, Tick Tock” goes the clock, Mr. Jackley! Odd is it not how a member of the free press has to “ferret” out these little mistakes of your elected position decisions?

    Question is sir; “Do you work for us the citizens or are you a servant of the legislature when they trip up?

  5. Donald Pay 2023-08-20 16:27

    Wasn’t legal incompetence in the AG’s office supposed to end when Ravnesborg left the building? Good grief. This corrupt settlement might be good as long as the incompetent AG refuses to follow the state constitution. Time to impeach Jackley?

  6. Richard Schriever 2023-08-20 20:34

    So, several years ago, I made an inquiry to Jackley’s office about prosecution of an elected official for committing a crime. The (paraphrased) response was that it is the AG’s job to defend the government, not to prosecute it.

  7. grudznick 2023-08-20 20:52

    What if it turns out Ms. Castleberry is next hired by a state government department, not the Attorney’s, but another? Probably with a really big salary that affords $3,000 extra walking around money a month. Wouldn’t that really be a stick in the craw for some?

  8. jerry 2023-08-23 11:34

    Now the Feds are going after about a billion in covid corruption. “In one of the largest national crackdowns on fraud targeting federal coronavirus aid, the Justice Department on Wednesday said it had brought 718 law enforcement actions in connection with the alleged theft of more than $836 million.” WAPO 8/23/23

  9. Justin Van Ormer 2023-08-24 20:11

    Haha, my son goes to one of the locations, got an email Aug 6, saying tuition was going up $10/week, now tonight, got an email that’s it’s going up $25/week….. coincidence? Haha

  10. Justin Van Ormer 2023-08-24 20:14

    The newest email even says “post -COVID recovery” as a reason too haha.

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