South Dakota Republicans Declare State Of Emergency To Remove Ethics Commission
It would seem that our new Republican-controlled Congress set the tone by attempting to simply remove ethics as one of the first news stories for 2017. As Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.’ The new balance of power tipped to today’s Republicans, and now those in South Dakota are pushing to remove the trifling inconvenience of their own ethics commission too.
At the start of the New Year, Congressional Republicans thought it would totally fly to remove the role of the House’s only independent ethics office behind closed doors on a holiday. They suffered incredible backlash from angry Americans and managed to shock millions who were already reeling from the shock of the election results. Fortunately for our democracy, they turned tail and changed course. The Republican coup in North Carolina also shocked us all when Pat McCrory attempted to render newly-elected Governor Roy Cooper as powerless as he possibly could in a closed-door session barred from the public.
Nothing fascist there…
In this new climate, where the pendulum has swung so far right that we are now getting a clear look into the hideous eyes of fascism, South Dakota Republicans prepare to demolish their ethic commission by calling a ‘state of emergency.’ Nevermind that 51.6% of the South Dakota voters had approved new ethics commissions laws fittingly called the ‘Anti-corruption Act’ Measure 22 with a ballot initiative just this November -the same day of Trump’s election. The Republican Governor, Dennis Daugaard, proclaimed that voters had been ‘hoodwinked by scam artists who grossly misrepresented these proposed measures.’ A conservative lobbying group and 25 GOP lawmakers pushed to repeal it entirely and immediately, also thereby denying voters their right to vote on the measure again through a veto referendum. How convenient.
‘We are pretty squeaky clean, and I can say that with a great deal of pride in South Dakota; the ethics among the people that serve the state in the legislature, I would call impeccable,’ stated Rep. Larry Rhoden, who was leading the repeal effort.
This statement by Rhoden is in stark contrast with supporters of the ethics commission, who believe South Dakota deserves an ‘F’ rating for integrity. Perhaps Larry Rhoden used new-fangled ‘alternative facts.’ The state ranks 47th in the nation for accountability from the Center for Public Integrity, 2014 winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
South Dakota receives an ‘F’ in 2015 for the categories of:
- Public Access to Information,
- Political Financing
- Electoral Oversight
- Executive Accountability
- Legislative Accountability
- State Civil Service Management
- Ethics Enforcement Agencies
- State Pension Fund Management
- and most tellingly –Lobbying Disclosure
The backlash to this news is just beginning as well, but clearly, Trump’s election has given many a Republican the permission and carte blanche to simply remove oversight into their obvious corruption and the thousands of dollars special interests funnel to them.