Gant Injects Politics into Secretary of State’s Office

Today, Secretary of State Jason Gant invited further partisanship into the non-partisan Secretary of State’s office.

In a letter to the editor published in today’s Argus Leader, Gant asked the public to recognize state Senator Todd Schlekeway (R-Sioux Falls) for passing Senate Bill 130, a measure to ensure election procedures in the case of an emergency.

“Gant first politicized the office when he hired a prominent conservative blogger as his director of operations,” Rep. Mitch Fargen (D-Flandreau) commented. “By praising a state senator who presumably is running for reelection, Gant put into further question his ability to keep politics out of South Dakota’s voting process.”

SB 130 was approved unanimously in the SD House of Representatives on March 1, 2011, and in the SD Senate on March 3, 2011.

Former allegations of partisanship in the non-partisan Secretary of State’s office first surfaced after Secretary Gant hired Pat Powers, the prominent conservative blogger of South Dakota War College, to serve as director of operations.

Republican State Senator Stan Adelstein (R-Rapid City) said Powers was dishonest as a blogger. Adelstein joined Democrats who expressed concerns over Powers’ access to sensitive information at the Secretary of State’s office as a result.

The Secretary of State, a non-partisan position, is charged with carrying out fair elections in South Dakota.

Contact Zach Crago at 605-271-5405 or zach@sddp.org.

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Background:

Law Ensures Integrity of Elections

“I want to publicly thank state Sen. Todd Schlekeway for his leadership this past session and for his efforts to make South Dakota government better…[SB 130] is an important step to maintaining the integrity of the ballot box, and South Dakotans have Schlekeway to thank for it.” [Argus Leader, 5.24.11]

Senate Bill 130 Passes Unanimously

SB 130, a measure to provide a procedure for the Secretary of State to conduct certain local elections when an emergency exists, passed the SD House, 68 to 0, on March 1, 2011, and the SD Senate, 33 to 0, on March 3, 2011. The Governor signed it into Law on March 28, 2011. [H.J 577, S.J. 611, S.J. 706; SD Legislature]

Secertary of State Invites Partisanship

“Shortly after the November election, Pat Powers, a prominent blogger, announced his retirement from political bomb-throwing and turned the keys of his South Dakota War College blog over to some newcomers…He’s back – set to become Secretary of State-elect Jason Gant’s director of operations…

“Adelstein thinks Powers was dishonest as a blogger. Now, the senator worries that Powers will have access to the sensitive business filings that are held at the secretary of state’s office. [Argus Leader, 1.2.11]

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