Should the legislature investigate things on the basis of…… they feel like it?

There’s a story on the Rapid City Journal website today that State Representative Tim Goodwin wants the State Legislature to investigate the FDLS Compound near Pringle, South Dakota… because someone should investigate it?

A South Dakota lawmaker frustrated with what he views as inaction over a secretive polygamous sect’s outpost in his district wants legislators to look into the compound, including why no South Dakota birth or death records have been filed from there over the last decade.

Rep. Tim Goodwin is proposing lawmakers find out more about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ compound in the western part of the state, including what its population is, whether it has a home schooling program, and whether polygamy or sex trafficking are taking place there. Lawmakers will decide Tuesday on issues to study ahead of the 2018 legislative session.


“That is in my district. I’ve got to at least make an attempt to do something about it,” said Goodwin, a new Republican lawmaker who lives near Hill City. “If we would just enforce those minor infractions, then you could probably find the major infractions.”


South Dakota House Speaker Mark Mickelson is chairman of the Legislature’s Executive Board, which will decide what issues lawmakers should study. Mickelson said the compound is a “great potential issue,” but questioned what the Legislature’s role should be.

“If he thinks we need some laws, beautiful,” Mickelson said. “If he wants us to go investigate, I’m out.”

Read it here.

Why is it that some legislators, who claim to be among the most conservative, seem to have this troubling streak of wanting the biggest and most intrusive government possible?  Because it seems to me that he’s calling for a legislative witch hunt on the basis of the fact that no one has had probable cause to date to investigate, charge or prosecute activities connected with the compound yet?

I have suspicions that there might be some things going on, based on the FDLS’ track record. But, there’s a right way, and a wrong way to go about things. If Representative Goodwin has evidence of wrongdoing, why wouldn’t he turn it over to law enforcement? I’d certainly encourage him to do so. That’s their job, Not his.

Because what’s troubling in this matter is that Goodwin seems to be trying to get around some of those pesky constitutional rights against unreasonable searches & seizures.

If he values the rights conveyed to us in the bill of rights, such as the Constitutional amendments guaranteeing free speech (1st), and the right to bear arms (2nd), shouldn’t he give equal deference to the 4th Amendment, instead of trying to gin up a witch hunt?

Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t think that’s the legislature’s place.

Leave law enforcement to law enforcement.  And legislators can keep the witch hunts at home,

10 Replies to “Should the legislature investigate things on the basis of…… they feel like it?”

  1. Anne Beal

    That particular compound was featured in an episode (maybe more) of “Escaping Polygamy.”
    It’s a reality show, so you have to take everything with a grain of salt.
    But the show features young women who assist others in escaping these communities. Unfortunately, since by the time these girls are 18, they are already mothers so leaving is difficult.

  2. grudznick

    Who is the insanest: Mr. Goodwin or these peaceful and quiet people living out by Pringle?

  3. Ed Randazzo

    Ten years, ten years no birth records, no death records, children present, children gone, women escape, run by a known thief of taxpayer funds = probable cause. Support of local residents and the sheriff for just answers to legitimate questions and you want to question a lawmaker’s motives and conservative purity? Really???

    1. Pat Powers Post author

      Three words, Ed: Rule of law.

      It’s the way our system works. If there’s actual probable cause, then there’s plenty of reason for locals to investigate. Why would we need more government for one group, just because people have suspicions? This is a matter for the states atty, not a legislative committee.

      1. Ann

        Three more words for Ed, Separation of Powers. It’s not the legislatures job to enforce law, only make them.

      2. Ed Randazzo

        Seven words, Pat: Law enforcement has not gotten it done.
        I agree that this is primarily a state’s attorney issue but the state’s attorney hasn’t gotten it done. It’s not a witch hunt and it’s not more government. It’s legitimate questions of known thieves whose known history includes polygamy and sexual abuse of children.
        There’s smoke, big billowing clouds of smoke here…..maybe there’s fire.
        We have 3 coequal branches of government, if one is faltering on an issue, the others can shine a light in the darkness. Tim Goodwin is responding to his constituents’ concerns. I applaud his courage and initiative.

  4. Anne Beal

    there is no denying that there are really bad things going on in the FLDS but as long as the women put up with it,it will continue.
    One problem is getting girls out before they have children. It is easier if no children are involved, but the girls are minors and treated like runaways everywhere: they are returned to their parents. By the time they turn 18 they already have kids.

  5. JoeSchmoe

    Suspicion and Probable Cause are two very different things. In this case, what the legislator has is suspicion; what law enforcement lacks is Probable Cause. The suspicion is well founded, but does not rise to the level of probable cause.

  6. JoeSchmoe

    Tyranny operates on whim. Rule of law in a constitutional republic operates on Probable Cause. Do I think bad things are happening? Yes, I do. Is there grounds for investigation? No, there is not.

  7. Anne Beal

    No birth certificates makes it impossible for runaway mothers to petition the court for custody. They can’t prove the children are theirs. They can’t even get DNA samples collected.

    No education past the 8th grade and no work experience means the mothers who leave do not have the resources to hire lawyers.

    It will take a runaway mother fighting for custody to demonstrate cause for an investigation.

    In the meantime we can all pretend there is nothing funny going on.