Welcome to the fake convention. Come on in, let's see what's happening.

Any readers go to the State Conventions this year?

How about the State Democratic Convention? Here’s an advertisement for it on the State Democratic Party’s website:

And here it is again on facebook:

The only problem is, the Democrat’s Aberdeen convention was fake. 100% not real, not certified. Just an exercise, practice run, convention bunny slope, whatever you’d care to call it.

Why do I know this? Because the notice of convention filed with the state said nothing about June 14th, 15th or 16th, or Aberdeen.  It expressly noted that the convention was in July.

(You can click to enlarge.)   From paid chairman Ben Nessellhuf: “Our 2012 State Party Convention will be held at the SDDP party office in Sioux Falls on July 10, 2012.”  You can read the document here.

Now here’s where it gets a little interesting. On June 6th, the State Democratic party certifies the place (Sioux Falls) and the date (July 10, 2012) of the real 2012 State Democratic Party Convention.  Despite spending money on advertising, booking rooms, and all the folderol of conventions in Aberdeen, in this letter Ben clearly notes the convention is in Sioux Falls on July 10.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t hold their fake convention. Certainly they did.  But the chairman, and likely the staff responsible for organizing it were fully aware that it wasn’t real. It was just a grand illusion, a convention with training wheels, the “pull-ups” convention before the Democrats were ready to do it for real.

Now, here’s where it gets odd. On June 19th, fully 21 days before the real convention held in Sioux Falls, the party files this document:

Ben writes: “Our delegates to the state convention have nominated the following candidates for constitutional offices……”       But how is that possible?  According to a letter signed by his own hand, the convention hadn’t happened yet. 

Did Ben actually file a document certifying the nomination results of a fake convention?

But, wait – we’re not done yet.  Fast forward to July, after the date of the real convention.  Because here’s another letter, this time for the real convention:

This letter was signed by the actual convention officers, chairman Ben Nesselhuf, co-chair Chris Studer who is a candidate for the senate, and Jennifer Slate-Hansen, who I haven’t heard of but is allegedly a member of the Aberdeen city council. (If that’s the real Aberdeen city council.  It could be a fake council, and the real one is in Sioux Falls.).

At the end of the day, I’m not sure what to think about this.

Two things trouble me – The most troubling was Ben Nesselhuff’s letter for the fake convention. Otherwise, I feel bad for the people who thought they were participating in a biennial political process where they hear speeches, and the adrenaline is rushing as people compete against each other, and you have the elation of winning. Because it was really BS.

At the end of the day, it was really just done in a back room in Sioux Falls, and all of that other stuff was just for nothing.

(Interested in doing your own research on the topic? You can find these documents for all this year’s conventions here.)

12 Replies to “Welcome to the fake convention. Come on in, let's see what's happening.”

  1. Troy Jones Post author

    Good to have you back Pat.

    Three questions:

    1) Did the Aberdeen Convention “nominate” a person that was not nominated at the Sioux Falls Convention, nominate a person in Sioux Falls who was not “nominated” at Aberdeen or otherwise adopt a different party plank in Sioux Falls?

    2) If the answer to #1 is yes, transparency would require an explanation of why there. Why did the latter change occur?

    3) If the answer to #1 is no, what was the purpose of the second convention?

    I ask these questions as they illuminate how the SDDP sees authority in light of being directly democratic* or democratically republican.*

    Just to be clear, I don’t want to imply that democratically republican is bad. In fact, I think there is great wisdom in our form of government where most authority is vested with elected representatives who have the inclination and time to fully examine issues more deeply.

    * I use the term democratic or republican not in context of party politics but philosophy of governing. One is all authority rests in the hands of the people vs. in elected/appointed representatives.

  2. Transparency

    Hey, some openness in South Dakota government!

    Hopefully you can see how this helped you as a civilian, Pat, and start convincing your peers that it isn’t healthy that the public is left to assume our state politicians lie and cheat because they are afraid of good governing principles.

  3. Anooner

    Pat, this is fine that you report this stuff. It is also why people weren’t comfortable with the notion you could act impartially at the SOS office.

  4. HeidelbergerCA

    (…not to mention ….

    Cory – I’d have to check the spam filter, as i don’t know what you posted to kick it in while I was not on the blog. But otherwise, on topic comments are allowed. -P

  5. Katzy

    Well, nice to see that politics as usual (scheduling a second convention just for political purposes cuz they couldn’t round up a candidate in time for the first). Wonder if the people attending the first convention knew it was a fake or that there would be two conventions. If the Dems want to get more control in SD, I think they better look for better, more trustworthy leaders!

  6. Dave R

    Well, why not? The Democratic Party strongarms potential candidates to prevent primaries. They also use placeholders only to replace them after the primary. They CHOSE candidates for the voters rather than allowing a more open process like the Republican Party does.

    The Democratic Party is really quite autocratic. Perhaps that is why Republicans have a deeper bench and hold more offices.

  7. Spencer

    Who is competing to run as a Democrat in South Dakota? I think the SD dems should take all of their place holder candidates and have them run against each other at a real convention and present to the public those three Democrats willing to seriously represent South Dakota in Pierre to run against the GOP slate.

  8. Anonymous

    I’ll give the SDDP the benefit of the doubt and assume it was incompetency instead of something underhanded. SDCL 12-5-17 requires the chairman of each party to notify the SOS of the time and place of its convention thirty days in advance. My guess is that Nesselhuf realized in June that he missed this deadline, so he scheduled the “real” convention in July to ratify the decisions made at the “fake” convention in June.

  9. Elais

    Dave, your “The Democratic Party is really quite autocratic. Perhaps that is why Republicans have a deeper bench and hold more offices”

    Republicans have a deep bench? They are about as deep as a pond.

    1. Ymous

      You are in a fantasy world if you can’t see the scope and size of the GOP bench. You have much to learn and rebuilding starts with reality.