Dems: Government Corruption Not Political Football

Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communications Director, (605) 271-5405press@sddp.org

Dems: Government Corruption Not Political Football

Sioux Falls, SD (March 23, 2016)-

The South Dakota Democratic Party expressed its disappointment with Attorney General Marty Jackley and Representative Mark Mickelson (R-Sioux Falls) regarding recent comments made in an Argus Leader article. Both are presumed to be GOP gubernatorial candidates in 2018.

“We need to marshall our resources together to root out corruption, not use the issue as a political football,” said Michael Ewald, South Dakota Democratic Party Communications Director.

South Dakota’s state government has been marred by recent scandals—from EB-5 misconduct, to the mishandling of GEAR UP grant money. South Dakota received an “F” rating by the 2015 Public Integrity Study. South Dakota is ranked 3rd worst in government corruption.

“Democrats proposed four government accountability measures to improve transparency this session. Rep. Mickelson voted against the three that came before him and Attorney General Jackley certainly didn’t show up to testify in favor of the measures. When the Republicans are done squabbling about who gets to be on the soap box, the Democrats will be ready to get back to work to improve accountable government,” Ewald said.

The Democratic Party’s four accountability measures from the 91st legislative session.

HB 1155 would have prohibited members of state boards and commissions from entering into contracts in subject areas governed by the board. It was deferred to the 41st legislative day in House State Affairs on a party line vote. Rep. Mickelson voted in favor of deferring the measure to the 41st legislative day.

HB 1220 sought to rescind a scholarship waiver, restoring funds for scholarships that were diverted by questionable GEAR-UP contracts. The House defeated the measure on a mostly part line vote. Rep Mickelson voted against the measure on the House floor.

HB 1227 would have established a government accountability commission. It was deferred to the 41st legislative day in House State Affairs on a party line vote. Rep Mickelson voted in favor of killing the bill.

Sen. 163 provided a reporting mechanism when a company or individual receives multiple small, no-bid government contracts that exceed the bid threshold. It was tabled by the judiciary.

The only action Republicans took this session was HB 1214 introduced by Rep. Mickelson. The Rapid City Journal blasted the measure as doing “little to change the political culture that enabled Education Board members Kelly Duncan of Northern State University and Stacy Phelps of Rapid City to receive sizable contracts approved by fellow board members” in the Gear Up fiasco. It also only “applies to 22 of South Dakota’s 130 boards”.

“We’re dealing with corruption and graft so severe, you expect it out of Washington D.C., not South Dakota. Until we create an independent non-partisan body charged with prioritizing government accountability, these scandals will continue. It’s not complicated. When Republican legislators are investigating Republican state bureaucrats and cronies—nothing substantive will be done. More lives will be lost and taxpayer dollars will disappear,” Ewald concluded.

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