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Schoenbeck Calls Haeder Stupid and Spineless for Blocking Summit Pipeline

Senator Julie Frye-Mueller (R-30/Rapid City) got suspended and censured for making unprofessional comments about sex and lactation to a Legislative Research Council employee. Can Senate President Pro-Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) now get suspended and censured for making unprofessional comments insulting the State Treasurer and ad hoc Public Utilities Commissioner?

On September 11, the Public Utilities Commission rejected Summit Carbon Solutions’ application to build a pipeline network that would ship carbon dioxide from ethanol plants to underground sequestration in North Dakota. Just days earlier, the PUC blocked a similar CO2 pipeline proposal by Navigator CO2 Ventures, which has since canceled its project.

Treasurer Josh Haeder filled in for Commissioner Kristie Fiegen on the PUC on the Summit docket after Fiegen recused herself for a conflict of interest. Haeder joined regular Commissioners Gary Hansen and Chris Nelson in voting against Summit’s proposal, saying county ordinances blocking pipeline construction made the proposed route unworkable.

Back in February 2022, Senator Lee Schoenbeck threatened to kill the Summit pipeline himself when he thought the route was going to plow through the Benedictine Sisters’ Harmony Hill housing development. Senator Schoenbeck was looking at an old map; Summit had already changed its route to swing wide of Harmony Hill and Lake Kampeska in its last stretch toward the Glacial Lakes Energy ethanol plant. Senator Schoenbeck then became a keen advocate for Summit’s pipeline and its use of eminent domain.

But evidently the Senate President Pro-Tempore Schoenbeck felt Commissioner pro tempore Haeder’s rejection of a legally impossible pipeline makes Haeder a spineless lunkhead:

Screen cap of text conversation between Senator Lee Schoenbeck and Treasurer Joshua Haeder, 2023.09.14, evidently archived by Haeder and posted to the PUC Summit docket. Retrieved 2023.10.27.
Screen cap of text conversation between Senator Lee Schoenbeck and Treasurer Joshua Haeder, 2023.09.13, evidently archived by Haeder and posted to the PUC Summit docket. Retrieved 2023.10.27.

The above screen cap shows a text conversation between Schoenbeck and Haeder. The message itself is labeled “Today 5:31 p.m.”; Haeder emailed it to himself on September 14 at 8:42 a.m. It appears Schoenbeck sent the above insults to Haeder after the PUC’s Monday morning vote on September 11, but it’s not clear whether he thumbed his noogies to Haeder on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. But on Thursday of that week, Haeder evidently decided Schoenbeck’s comments were worth memorializing. The conversation does not mention the Summit CO2 pipeline, but Haeder felt that was the real subject, as he had it posted on the PUC’s archive of comments received on the Summit project. All of the other comments posted since the September 11 hearing so far are thanks and keep fighting the pipeline; Schoenbeck is the only commenter taking the commission—or at least Haeder—to task.

We should note that Haeder has made no public comments against ethanol. My interactions with Haeder have provided evidence that he has a higher IQ than the average South Dakota Republican voter and possibly equal to that of the average Democratic voter. And if we’re counting vertebrae, it took more political courage for Haeder and his fellow Republican commissioners to vote against a pipeline backed by Schoenbeck, the SDGOP mainstream, and rich Iowa Republicans represented by recent SDGOP chairman and lobbyist Dan Lederman and instead side with a less powerful coalition of landowners and elements of the mostly feckless radical right fringe of the Republican Legislative caucus.

Landowners who oppose (keep that present tense; Summit is still scheming!) the Summit pipeline say Schoenbeck should resign for calling Haeder stupid and spineless:

South Dakota Landowners Thursday have called on Senator Lee Schoenbeck to resign following a series of inappropriate texts he sent to South Dakota Treasurer Josh Haeder.

…Landowner Ed Fischbach released the following statement:

“This is intimidation and totally unacceptable behavior from a sitting senator in a leadership position.  Because of this, our landowner group is calling for Senator Schoenbeck to resign” [staff, “Landowners Now Calling for Senator Lee Schoenbeck to Resign Following a Series of Malicious Texts,” Hub City Radio, 2023.10.26].

Schoenbeck darn near resigned from the Legislature once before after calling his House Majority Leader Brian Gosch all sorts of fun names for voting against the sales-tax-for-teacher-pay plan that Schoenbeck saved.

The Senate doesn’t convene until January, so no members (like a perhaps vengeful Frye-Mueller, who pals around with the radical GOP fringe who spoke up against the pipeline) can file a formal resolution against Schoenbeck until then. But we should thank the PUC for taking the position that texts sent between legislators and other state officials ought to be public record and thus allowing us to consider whether Schoenbeck’s criticism of Haeder constitutes proper behavior from our elected officials.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-10-27

    I love this! Earth haters hating Earth haters! Wheeeeee!

  2. O 2023-10-27

    It does remind me of the adage that you should never put in writing anything you don’t want to become public.

    I say this demonstrates the issue with one-party rule: the majority gets so used to being the ultimate decider, that anything contrary to that becomes unimaginable, inconceivable. If the GOP had to work to persuade or overcome legitimate opposition, their tenor would change (or their leadership status would).

  3. Neal 2023-10-27

    Lee is the worst. Even his own family hates him.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-10-27

    It looks like porker Pat Powers is ignoring the Earth hater feud.

  5. Ben Cerwinske 2023-10-27

    “R u that stupid” – I’m guessing he wrote that unironically…

  6. larry kurtz 2023-10-27

    Mr. Schoenbeck is a notorious tippler so no doubt he was well into his cups while composing that flurry of adolescent spittle.

  7. jkl 2023-10-27

    larry kurtz, I had the same first impression that LS texts were influenced by alcohol.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2023-10-27

    It sounds like Senator Schoenbeck had been drinking. These fellows, who fashion themselves as in control of the “Big Picture” in South Dakota, take it personally when the people of South Dakota pull the plug on their pipedreams. Then, they pout, tantrum, and plot. Egomania is a driving force within the Republican Party.

  9. grudznick 2023-10-27

    Perhaps it was the younger fellow, Mr. Haeder, who was swilling from the jug. We may never know.

  10. P. Aitch 2023-10-27

    I know a “deep fake” when I see one. Sen. Schoenbeck didn’t compose that.

  11. grudznick 2023-10-27

    Mr. P.h, are you suggesting what grudznick is thinking…that this Mr. Haeder fellow pretended to have a texting war with some buddy of his and point it back at Mr. Shoenbeck, or even used those fancy programs to doctor up a picture? You are one devious fellow, Mr. P.h

  12. grudznick 2023-10-27

    The bloggings about Mr. Haeder suggest he is a cyber spook guru. He would be adept at deep fakes. Hmmm.

  13. larry kurtz 2023-10-27

    Lee Schoenbeck is a shameless power addict with delusions of pertinency garnished with olives and a paper parasol.

  14. larry kurtz 2023-10-27

    Josh Haeder is a self-important, christianic, ladder-climbing gigalo with horrible friends.

  15. grudznick 2023-10-27

    grudznick’s good friend Lar is a highly perceptive fellow, according to some.

  16. P. Aitch 2023-10-27

    If those texts are from Senator Schoenbeck why did Josh Haeder not show the heading that would show Senator Schoenbeck’s text name and contact icon, Why would he send the text to himself? Even if Josh Haeder deleted the original it’s still in his deleted text file. If it’s real show it. It’s easy to create a text account with someone else’s name on it.
    Who are Schoenie’s enemies? Well, Governor Noem and Ian Fury are two.

  17. grudznick 2023-10-27

    Indeed. Mr. P.h is probably onto something with his evolving analysis here. Mr. Nesiba is probably Mr. Schoenbeck’s most direct and antagonistic nemesis, so we should put his name in the mix also. Mr. Nesiba is, by most accounts, technologically inept, but he has student fellow who can pull off these deep fakes. Augustana is a rich school with children whose parents have big bucks to back Mr. Nesiba’s nefarious dark deep faking. So I throw that out there for consideration.

  18. Ed 2023-10-28

    Some of these comments are astounding. Schoenbeck confirmed he wrote it to Dakota News Now. Haeder was required by statute to post it on the PUC docket. Any attempted communication with a commissioner while the docket is still open must be put up on the public docket. Let’s not miss the point here! Schoenbeck is an egotistic bully who has done this kind of behavior to others because he thinks his position of power allows him to do so. There are no excuses for this kind of behavior from someone who is supposed to be a legislative leader. He should resign. If not, fellow legislators should show some courage and remove him. Enough is enough!

  19. larry kurtz 2023-10-28

    Buying bullets for the SDGOP circular firing squad in on my to-do list.

  20. larry kurtz 2023-10-28

    Our pal LCJ took on Pat Powers’ multiple personalities about Mr. Schoenbeck only to be slapped down so the hypocrisy over there still connive and hell.

  21. Scott Ehrisman 2023-10-29

    Hey, Lee, did you also hear that Jenny’s cousin, Mandy talked to her stepsister, Cindy and Cindy said that Corky caught Josh and Katie under the bleachers necking :)

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