VA Whistleblower claims Hot Springs Call Center is just a ruse

From the Rapid City Journal, apparently a VA Department whistleblower is calling out the VA and claiming that the VA call center being proposed was just a ruse to ease the sting of shutting down the facility:

The Atlanta, Ga., man, who works as a spokesman for the VA Health Eligibility Center, has testified before Congress about previous alleged misdeeds within the department.

On March 10, Davis dropped a new allegation against the VA regarding the proposed Hot Springs Member Services Call Center, with his boss, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin.

Davis contends that the call center and promises of 120 new jobs is more ruse than reality. He said it was the VA’s way of creating a good news story about what was happening to the Hot Springs VA hospital, and was a way to ease the pain of losing some 300 hospital jobs that will be shifted to Rapid City or elsewhere due to the department’s planned reconfiguration of the Black Hills Health Care System.

In a letter to Shulkin dated March 10, Davis explains how the Hot Springs Call Center was supposed to help the Atlanta Health Eligibility Center provide service to veterans seeking VA health care. The Health Eligibility Center helps veterans find care and enroll in VA programs.

He tells Shulkin in the letter that no computer equipment was ordered through the VA’s Office of Information and Technology for employees in Hot Springs to use prior to being hired. Call center staff members claim this is an ongoing problem, Davis says, and he wonders how people can do their jobs without computers.

Read the entire story here at the Rapid City Journal

There are not a lot of call center jobs that don’t require computers, so this gentleman may be on to something. This might be a good one for our Delegation to take up with the Department.

Jim Entenman in for SF Mayoral Race… How is the rest of the region doing?

Mike Huether confederate Jim Entenman announced this morning that he’s running for Sioux Falls Mayor, which gave me a thought of doing a chart for some of the other cities in South Dakota as well.

So, here’s the tape of the tape for the mayoral races in South Dakota via media reports, and people I’ve spoken with. Obviously, we’re missing Rapid City, and I suspect there are others mulling over the 2018 Mayoral Race in Sioux Falls. Fill in any blanks via the comment section if you’re so inclined:


Lt. Governor Matt Michels to announce decision on Governor next week

Lt. Governor Matt Michels has often been mentioned in that rarified air of people who could conceivably run for governor and be a legitimate contender.

Prior to the legislative session, Michels teased us with a notation that he would be making a decision after session as to the status of whether he intended to run or not.

And, from a note I had from the Lt. Governor, he’s being really literal with that after session thing. Meaning, after the conclusion of the session after veto day, not after the main run of the session. When asked, Michels noted to me that “Yes I/we have made up our minds and will let all know later next week.

So, a decision is coming quickly as to whether we’re going to have another entrant into the race for the highest state office.  Maybe not soon enough for me, but quickly!

Stay tuned!

Lies, Damned Lies, and Senator Nelson’s Statistics.

This morning over at KELO AM, Todd Epp, Greg Belfrage show producer has a story on legislative success statistics, as prompted by a chart provided to him by State Senator Stace Nelson. Nelson, of course, has always exhibited a tendency towards self-aggrandizement. Not unexpected in a politician, but even in this instance, there comes a point where it’s a bit much:

The main run of the South Dakota Legislature recently ended and now we’re starting to see some report cards about their performance.

One survey (see bottom of page) that state Sen. Stace Nelson (R-Fulton) shared with KELO News takes the approach of “How many of your bills or resolutions passed?” or is it “How many bills and resolutions did you introduce?” or is it the opposite, “How many bills or resolutions did you not introduce?”

For example, the aforementioned Sen. Nelson introduced 38 total bills or resolutions, three passed one chamber, five measures passed both chambers, two concurrent resolutions passed, and 13 commemorations passed. So, 20 of 38 bills or resolutions Nelson was main sponsor on passed for a 53% pass rate. On the other hand, 15 of these were commemorations, which seldom face opposition.

In the same chamber, Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls) “only” sponsored seven bills, six of which passed both chambers and one was a concurrent resolution. That gave him a perfect 100 percent batting average.

Read it here.

Mark Twain once quipped “Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'”  

In the instance of Senator Nelson’s “chart of awesomeness”  where he counted a Kloucekian number of resolutions for himself as a sign of legislative excellence, shockingly, the sheer numbers of resolutions managed to skew his rating.

The problem with the figures being used in the chart presented to Epp is that unless a resolution is controversial or offensive to some, it is passed with little or no opposition, as it’s viewed as a legislative thanks for service, or an “attaboy” for recognizable accomplishment.

Removing those numbers, we’re left to look at the actual legislation a member brought. Some people count bills introduced as those where you’re the prime sponsor in your own chamber, as well as legislation from the opposite chamber, where a person is in all actuality carrying another member’s bill.  And again, in that latter case, you’re really not doing more than standing on someone else’s shoulders, as the idea for – the genesis of the bill, if you will – was someone else’s.

In that case, if we’re legitimately to calculate a legislator’s worth based on what they do in Pierre, those numbers should be stripped from one’s own “rating of legislative awesomeness.”

So, for Senator Nelson, that takes the hyper-inflated success ratio he calculated for himself from a whopping 53% pass rate… down to reality, where only 1 of his 7 bills he authored and was the prime sponsor for met with the approval of his colleagues and the Governor.

One bill. So, we would say that in 2017, Senator Stace Nelson officially and undisputedly has a 14.3% success rate. If we’re rounding up.  Quite the difference from his self proclaimed 53% success rate.

Which kind of begs the question of why the Senator felt the need to put together his utterly manufactured “chart of awesomeness” in the first place, much less why he’s parading it around to the press. Even Todd Epp at KELO made a point to talk about how it doesn’t tell the entire story.

In fact, sometimes the best legislators make a point to keep legislation from passing.  (You know, the whole “the Government which governs the best, governs least” thing.) If scads of legislation are being brought simply to bolster legislative egos and feelings of self-worth, that’s a bad, bad thing.  And it should certainly bring into question when legislators parade the buffoonery of self-made charts about how awesome they are where they’ve intentionally skewed the numbers to maximize the appearance of their efforts whether real or contrived.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Senator Nelson’s statistics.  All things that should be avoided if we’re going to accurately formulate how effective our legislators truly are.

Rapid City Legislator attacks Governor in social media over Veto

Modeling School tycoon Lynn DiSanto must not offer classes on congeniality, as apparently KCCR radio is reporting she went on the attack against Republican governor Dennis Daugaard.

Why? Over the governor vetoing her permitless concealed carry legislation:

DiSanto went as far as saying “Daugaard has commented that he’s not going to be running for higher political office, which is good cause he couldn’t win dog catcher anywhere in South Dakota.”

DiSanto says frankly, Daugaard is out of touch with South Dakotans…

Read it here at Today’s KCCR.

And who says civility has gone by the wayside in politics?

Cynthia Mickelson Announcement for School Board featured in Argus Today

From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Cynthia Mickelson’s announcement has hit the paper, noting her background and qualifications for the open School Board seat in Sioux Falls:

Cynthia Mickelson, a Miller native who has spent more than 20 years living in Sioux Falls, is officially running for a seat on the board overseeing the largest school district in the state.

Mickelson, 46, works as a grant writer and independent contractor in Sioux Falls. She’s a member of the bar, though she’s not a practicing attorney, and she’s served for the past six years on the Children’s Home Society board.


She’s been heavily involved in parent groups, including the PTA, PTO and the Lincoln High School booster club. Mickelson has three boys — two attend Lincoln and one goes to Patrick Henry Middle School.


Read it all here.

Rounds Staffer Josh Haeder announces run for Office of the State Treasurer in 2018

Huron Resident Josh Haeder announces run for Office of the State Treasurer in 2018

Huron, SD – Josh Haeder of Huron has announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination to be South Dakota’s next State Treasurer.

“I am blessed to have my wife Amanda and two beautiful daughters, Maggie Mae (3 years old) and Laikyn Rae (10 months old) by my side as we embark on this incredible journey together. My family embodies my desire to serve and help create a better financial future for the next generation of South Dakotan’s.” 

Haeder has a wide-ranging and diverse involvement with the banking and lending industry having served as a personal banker and agriculture and business lending manager. Following his time as a banker Haeder served as the Chief Operating Officer and certified credit counselor for a nationally recognized credit counseling agency. 

Haeder says of his time in credit counseling, “Working in the credit counseling field and hearing thousands of stories about families struggling to meet their financial needs is something I’ll never forget, the impact of mismanaging money is significant. When you look at the Treasurer’s office, an important responsibility is financial education. There is a great need to help our young people in K-12 as well as college students and young families better understand how to take control of their financial future. I will make it a priority in my administration to help educate our young people and guide them on the right path early in life. Those fiscally responsible principles that work in our personal life work the same way in government. We do things right in South Dakota and I want to ensure that continues.”

As of December South Dakota had nearly $345 million in Unclaimed Property assets. In the six months preceding that the state took in in-excess of $70 million in forgotten funds. This is an incredibly important role of the Treasurer’s office. “Returning unclaimed property to the citizens it belongs to will be at the forefront of all my service. This money is not the state’s – It is my duty as a public servant to return this money to the citizens it belongs to as urgently as possible,” said Haeder

In addition the State Treasurer is one of only eight voting members that serves on the South Dakota Investment Council. Those responsibilities include working to develop investment policy, establish asset allocation guidelines and to monitor implementation of the investment process. 

Haeder is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Intelligence and Global Security Studies from Point Park University and has a B.S. in Public Safety (Emergency Management).

“A key priority in the treasurer’s office is daily reconciliation of funds and ensuring we have a system that is resilient to outside hacking. It’s important to understand the risk posed by those who wish to steal our money, we must be diligent on a daily basis to defend this method of threat, as it’s real,” said Haeder

Haeder currently serves as the Northeast Director for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds. The experience working for a US Senator who serves on the influential Banking Committee has only expanded his interaction with the financial industry, community bankers and lenders. “I’ve seen first-hand from my travels and meetings the consequences federal legislation can have on these South Dakota family owned banks,” stated Haeder. 

Having served as the Republican Chairman for Beadle County from 2008-2014 Haeder said, “I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones as I meet with delegates and voters face to face in the near future as I travel the state to earn their trust and support.” 

He is a partner in Haeder Organization, LLC which is a property management company that provides affordable housing to residents in the Huron area. Haeder serves as the Vice President of Huron Kiwanis and he and his family attend Huron Christian Church.

The Office of State Treasurer is a Constitutional office and therefore nominated at the Republican State Convention by delegates from representing the 66 counties in June of 2018 in Pierre, SD. Current State Treasurer Rich Sattgast is term limited.

Dusty Johnson seeking campaign volunteers to help spread the word

Coming this afternoon, an e-mail went out from the Dusty Johnson Campaign seeking volunteers to help spread the word about his campaign:


It has been a whirlwind few months since I decided to run for Congress. In between working my day job and looking after Max, Ben, and Owen, I’ve made time to visit with a lot of South Dakotans. I’ve been blessed to receive a lot of support. People are looking for a tireless worker to get our federal government back on track. I hope to be that person for you. 

While we haven’t had our formal announcement or campaign kick-off yet, I wanted to give you an update on what Team Dusty has been doing in the last couple months:

  1. Received endorsements from state and local leaders, including Governor Daugaard
  2. Headlined the Hughes County Lincoln Day Dinner
  3. Launched our website, (check it out!)
  4. Launched our Facebook page, (“Like” the page for frequent updates)
  5. Raised funds from large and small donors (if you haven’t yet, please consider helping us get off and running by Donating)

With your help, I want to join the battle for Washington, DC. I want to limit the reach of our federal government, and take care of a national debt that will saddle my children and yours. I can’t do it alone. I appreciate your support and help so far.

You’ll be hearing more from us in the weeks and months to come.

Your Friend,


PS:  If you’d like to volunteer to write a letter to the editor, walk in a parade, or receive a DJ for Congress t-shirt or yard sign, send a note to!

Our mailing address is:

Dusty Johnson for Congress
PO Box 278
Mitchell, SD 57301

Women’s PAC supporting Krebs in Primary over Dusty Johnson

From the Argus Leader, Conservative Women’s PAC Maggie’s List announced today that they are supporting the female in the 2018 South Dakota Congressional Race:

Conservative political action committee Maggie’s List announced its endorsement Monday of Republican U.S. House candidate and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs.

In a statement, the federal PAC’s chair Sandra B. Mortham said the group that backs conservative women for elected office was throwing its support behind Krebs in her contest against former Republican public utilities commissioner Dusty Johnson.


Johnson, a former chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, has already received the endorsement of the Republican governor and has racked up a strong war chest heading into the 2018 GOP primary.

Read it all here.

I’m not sure that comes as a surprise, and I’m sure both sides are going to rack up more endorsements in the coming months.

Stay tuned.