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New Research: Noem Skipped 17 of 22 Indian Affairs Meetings

Some truly devastating, cited research has just surfaced showing that Congresswoman Kristi Noem has skipped 17 of 22 Indian Affairs committee hearings on top of skipping 16 of 20 Agriculture Committee hearings…

Makes you wonder how Congresswoman Noem can stand up for South Dakota if she won’t even show up for South Dakota in Congress?

Here’s the text of the press release from Matt Varilek’s campaign with citations for every meeting missed:

New Research: Noem Skipped 17 of 22 Indian Affairs Meetings

Completely absent for year-long stretch

(SIOUX FALLS, SD)—During yesterday’s Argus Leader Editorial Board forum between Rep. Kristi Noem and Matt Varilek, Noem was asked a question related to Native American issues. New research by the Varilek campaign shows Rep. Noem has skipped 77% of House Indian and Alaska Native Affairs subcommittee meetings.

Of the 22 meetings that have taken place since Rep. Noem took office in January of 2011, she only attended five. During one year-long stretch, Noem didn’t attend a single meeting (5/24/11-6/26/12).

Even on the rare occasions when she does show up, she fails to advocate for South Dakota’s interests. One notable moment occurred on July 24, 2011. Rep. Noem attended a subcommittee meeting but was scolded by fellow Republican, Subcommittee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), for typing on her phone during her opportunity to speak up for South Dakota at the meeting. Noem looked up from her phone and waved off the opportunity to speak. Watch the video here.

“Once again, the facts clearly demonstrate Congresswoman Noem’s unwillingness to show up and work hard on behalf of South Dakota when she’s in Washington,” said Varilek campaign manager David Benson. “It’s no wonder nothing is getting done — whether it’s not advocating for our Native American communities, the farm bill or the production tax credit for wind energy, Congresswoman Noem has failed to deliver for South Dakota. It’s time to elect someone who will show up and make sure South Dakota’s one voice in the House is heard once again.”

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BACKGROUND

Argus Leader Editorial Board Forum: “We have record levels of suicides on our reservations. We have inadequate job opportunities, we have underfunded Indian health services. We have continuing issues with BIA law enforcement on the reservations. What specific plans do you have that are geared toward resolving the problems on South Dakota’s reservations going forward?…And I want to be specific. Not necessarily money, but what efforts are you going to make if you’re elected over the next two years to deal with the issues that we have on South Dakota’s reservations?” (Question from Editorial Board, 9/24/12)

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “The effectiveness of federal spending on Native American programs, and on the President’s FY 2012 budget request for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians” [3/8/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Tribal development of energy resources and the creation of energy jobs on Indian lands.” [4/1/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 887. [4/5/11. Present]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Protecting Long-Term Tribal Energy Jobs and Keeping Arizona Water and Power Costs Affordable: The Current and Future Role of the Navajo Generating Station” [5/24/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1408. [5/26/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1158 and H.R. 1560. [6/22/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1291, H.R. 1234 and H.R. 1421 [7/12/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearings on H.R. 443, H.R. 444, H.R. 1461, H.R. 1556 and H.R. 2444. [9/22/11. Absent ]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 2938 [10/4/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 205 and H.R. 2362. [11/3/11. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 2467 and S. 292. [1/25/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3532. [2/7/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3973 [2/15/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1272. [3/1/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request of the Indian Health Service and of the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians” [3/6/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 4027 and H.R. 4194 [3/20/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Bureau of Land Management’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rule’s Impacts on Indian Tribal Energy Development” [4/19/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Federal Communications Commission’s rule on the Universal Service Fund and its impact on American Indians and Alaska Natives” [6/8/12. Absent]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Authorization, standards, and procedures for whether, how, and when Indian tribes should be newly recognized by the federal government” [6/27/12. Present]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Legislative Hearing on H.R. 726, H.R. 3319 and H.R. 6141. [7/24/12. Present]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Indian lands: exploring resolutions to disputes concerning Indian tribes, state and local governments, and private landowners over land use and development” [8/2/12. Present]

US House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Oversight Hearing on “Per Capita Act and Federal Treatment of Trust Per Capita Distributions.”  [9/14/12. Present]

 

 

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Johnson Seeking Solutions to Indian Housing Problems →

Chairman’s Note: Senator Tim Johnson continues to provide an example of real leadership for the state of South Dakota. After hearing “horror stories” from his constituents concerning housing issues in tribal areas, Johnson convened federal officials from various departments of government to find solutions for a growing housing crisis in Indian Country. South Dakota could use more leaders like Johnson who put the needs of their constituents before the wills of party leaders.

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Nesselhuf Statement on Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf released the following statement after former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announced that she will not run for office in 2012:

“South Dakotans are calling for an alternative to Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it and to increase taxes on working families. Matt Varilek and Jeff Barth will continue to focus on solutions for South Dakota instead of obstruction in Washington. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will remain a source of leadership, insight, and determination through this election and many more to come.”

Matt Varilek, former Economic Development Director for Senator Tim Johnson, and Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth are seeking the Democratic nomination for South Dakota’s lone congressional seat. More information on both candidates can be found at www.mattforsd.com and www.jeffbarth.com or by following them on Facebook at Matt for SD and Jeff Barth for Congress.

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Tribal Heritage An Important Part of South Dakota →

Chairman’s Note: Recent national news stories have highlighted the many hardships faced by those living in Indian Country.  As we recognize National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month this November, I wanted to share Senator Tim Johnson’s piece and acknowledge his dedication to native people in South Dakota.  We do better when we all do better, and as Democrats, we are committed to making this state one that works for all.

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Tribes Question Foster Group’s Power And Influence →

Chairman’s Note: Many of you have shared this story with me since NPR’s investigation broke of South Dakota’s application of the Indian Child Welfare Act. This a serious issue that goes far beyond politics, but I did want to bring it to your attention.

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Potential House candidate Matt Varilek speaks →

Matt Varilek isn’t running for Congress. Yet.

Varilek, an aide to Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., spoke to 15 members of the Davison County Democratic Party on Tuesday night at LifeQuest in Mitchell. The former high school debater gave a brief but polished speech, fielded questions and then sipped coffee, munched on a brownie and chatted with the Democrats.

He is considering a race for the nomination to run against Rep. Kristi Noem, a first-term Republican, and said he will continue to meet with Democrats and talk with his wife before he makes an announcement.

“We don’t have a final timeframe,” he said.

But on Tuesday night, Varilek, of Sioux Falls, sounded like a candidate.

He took aim at Noem and leveled several broadsides at her, accusing the state’s lone member of the House of having been pulled into a “tea party frenzy” during her year in public life.

“Kristi Noem has not been on our side,” Varilek said.

He said she has supported continuing subsidies for big oil and gas in Congress and he wonders why, since there are no such businesses in South Dakota and the country is in need of tax revenue.

Varilek said a close look at Noem’s campaign finance reports shows she has received thousands of dollars from Exxon, Chevron, Halliburton and other oil and gas companies.

“All of a sudden that vote doesn’t look so mysterious anymore,” he said.

Varilek said he has also watched in dismay as Noem has done little to help South Dakotans who rely on Medicare, children who depend on Medicaid and students who seek financial aid through the federal Pell Grant program. He said she has also not helped towns in need of assistance to maintain and improve their water infrastructure.

“And that really stood out to me,” Varilek said. “I don’t know if she even thinks these are good ideas for South Dakota.”

Varilek said he would be the kind of congressman who reaches out to Republicans and works with them. The word bipartisanship isn’t something he shies away from, he said.

Varilek said he was struck by Noem’s words when he attended a speech she gave recently in which she said politics are too polarized.

“Well, I couldn’t agree more,” he said. “But that’s kind of like Goliath calling David the bully.”

Varilek said he was dismayed when Noem sided with House Republicans who threatened to shut down the government this summer. That would have caused severe economic hardships, he said, and he was surprised she adopted that stance.

“It just made no sense at all,” Varilek said. “And I think that’s reckless.”

He said he favors raising government revenue by closing tax loopholes for big companies while also investing in programs to help people. Varilek referred to that as “a balanced approach to a balanced budget” and said he would vote to reduce the deficit.

Veteran Democratic campaign consultant Steve Hildebrand, a Mitchell native who now lives in Sioux Falls, is one of the people behind a Facebook effort to draft Varilek into the race.

Hildebrand served as a deputy national campaign director for the 2008 Obama campaign and has also worked for President Bill Clinton, Vide President Al Gore, Sen. Johnson and former Sen. Tom Daschle.

Noem’s communications director, Joshua Shields, declined to comment directly on Varilek’s possible candidacy.

“Rep. Noem is focused on her work empowering South Dakota small businesses and reducing their regulatory burdens,” Shields said.

But Tony Post, executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party, said voters deserve to know how Varilek differs from Sen. Johnson or if he shares his views and political stances.

“My first thought is, if he has aspirations, he needs to quit the cushy government job and start campaigning or just keep on the job,” he said.

Davison County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Mitchell said he was impressed with Varilek’s presentation.

Mitchell, a Dakota Wesleyan University professor, said he has often been embarrassed by Noem and some of the things she says. He urged Varilek to run, as did others at the meeting.

Matt Korzan, a South Dakota native who recently returned home after living in Virginia, told Varilek to run and also said finding a way to retain the brightest young people in South Dakota should be a major concern. Varilek agreed.

Kathryn Crockett said while she hopes he runs, she wants Varilek to take firm stands on issues. She said his speech was long on generalities.

Varilek, 36, grew up in Yankton and Tabor and studied at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where he earned two master’s degrees with an emphasis on economic development. A Carleton professor, Paul Wellstone, stunned the Minnesota political world in the 1990s when he ran a long-shot Senate campaign and unseated a wellfunded incumbent.

“Maybe there’s a lesson there for all challengers,” Varilek said.

He worked as a market analyst before joining Daschle’s staff in early 2004. After Daschle’s loss to John Thune in 2004, Varilek joined Johnson’s staff, where he has served as his economic development director while also writing some speeches for the three-term Democrat.

Varilek started working in Washington, D.C., but moved home to South Dakota in 2007 and now accompanies Johnson when he tours the state. He said he has learned a great deal about government and people by spending time around Johnson.

“Tim says, ‘A South Dakota leader has to put South Dakota first,’ ” Varilek said.

Varilek and his wife, Maggie, live in Sioux Falls with daughters Willa and Mae.

So far, Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth is the only Democrat to have declared his candidacy for the state’s sole House seat.

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, Tim Johnson’s son, is also considered a possible candidate, but Varilek said he didn’t “see any sign of that.”

Former congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who is now working as a lobbyist for a Washington, D.C., law firm, has said there’s a 50-50 chance she will run for her old seat in 2012.

“That’s not what I’m focused on,” Varilek said of her possible candidacy.

Barth will speak to the Davison County Democrats on Nov. 15. The event will be open to the public.

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Noem to SD: Donors First, Victims Second.

Earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding. Oh, My! Never fear, Kristi Noem is here! Well, actually, if you’re the victim of a natural disaster – ‘here’ is more of a relative term. You see, Kristi Noem isn’t actually here for you, she’s there, in Rapid City today, for donors to the Pennington County GOP.

South Dakota’s Congresswoman Noem is just more concerned about raising money for Republicans than about helping actual victims of her War on Working Families. And yes, we did just say Noem cares more about being a political puppet than putting people before her political games.

At a time when what we need is job creation, Noem and her fellow U.S. House Leadership cronies are holding hostage a bill that would fund 153 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) projects in South Dakota currently stalled due to the GOP’s albatross.

As Noem said of her leadership post:

The job of a liaison is to sit at the leadership table and tell them what the freshmen think.

Apparently, House Freshmen, including their Freshmen Liaison Kristi Noem, think South Dakota’s disaster victims, job creators, and those on the unemployment rolls deserve nothing less than political grandstanding and devastated communities. Oh, and we forgot to mention – according to Noem and her Washington friends, these folks deserve most of all for their Congresswoman to take vacations in order to fundraise for the next election.

So while Noem champions her ‘Do-Nothing’ leadership agenda, and uses words like ‘tough’ and ‘cut’; we’ll continue to champion everyday South Dakotans and use words like ‘truth’ and ‘jobs’. The fact of the matter is this – Noem can continue to do nothing, but come November 2012, we’re working to make sure it isn’t on behalf of the people of South Dakota.

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Thune Goes Washington…Again.

We hate to break this news; but moderation is not the new ‘black’. In fact, as Sen. Lamar Alexander exits his GOP leadership post, and Sen. John Thune clamors for the megaphone, it seems the hottest thing this season is Republican double-speak. (Say What?!)

We remember a day when Thune found leadership objectionable. We also remember the day Thune registered as a lobbyist. Oh, and the day he then served as a member of Congress and a lobbyist on behalf of his old clients.

What we’re not looking forward to is the day Thune steps into this new leadership role and then sells out South Dakota to the highest bidder. It’s been done before – we remember MetaBank too.

So, Sen. Thune – put Kristi Noem’s Tea Party aside, forget your 2014 Presidential Primary, and remember you represent more than Dan Nelson and his Iowa residency at the Federal Prison.

(Actually, whom are we kidding? What has John Thune ever done for South Dakota? Listen up – two words: Vote Democrat. Two more words: In 2012. Four more: Then Again In 2014.)

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Johnson Calls for More Collaboration between IHS, VA →

Native American veterans should be able to seek health care through either the Department of Veterans Affairs or Indian Health Service instead of being bounced between the two federal agencies, Sen. Tim Johnson said Tuesday. Continue Reading »

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Legislators plan redistricting meetings in Cheyenne River, Standing Rock areas →

Special subcommittee meetings will be held at three locations in northwestern South Dakota on Tuesday as part of the Legislature’s work to draw new boundary lines for the 35 legislative districts. Continue Reading »

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