Argus Leader sues Speaker of the House Gosch to make Special Session vote public

I’d heard that this was coming, and it looks like Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch refused to release the votes of the House members on who was calling for the Special Session to consider impeachment, and now he finds himself trying to defend keeping a vote of the legislature secret:

The Argus Leader and the South Dakota Newspaper Association jointly filed a lawsuit Wednesday with the South Dakota Supreme Court. The complaint alleges the Glenham Republican, who presides of the state House, is in violation of state open records laws by refusing for weeks to make public the names of lawmakers who formally signed a petition calling for the special session into Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg next month at the capitol.

“It’s inexcusable for Speaker Gosch to continue hiding this information from the public,” Argus Leader News Director Cory Myers said, noting attempts to work with Gosch and his private attorney to resolve the matter were unsuccessful. “There’s a constitutional requirement to record legislative votes, and at the very least, an obligation of elected servants to be transparent about their processes.

Read the entire story here.

The Senate had already released the information, because in the minds of most people, it’s kind of hard to justify keeping a vote of the legislature secret. And except for a few, just about everyone believes that votes of the legislature are public information.

As I’d noted before, keeping the vote secret was ill-advised at best, and an affront to open government at worst. I don’t see how this goes the house’s way.

30 thoughts on “Argus Leader sues Speaker of the House Gosch to make Special Session vote public”

  1. Every elected official I have spoken with has been very open with how they voted and why. I don’t see why Gosch is continuing this stance. This is not good governance. They need to be open and transparent.

  2. One would think that young Mr. Gosch would be tired of getting his buttocks whooped by the Senate, by the Governor’s office, by the public and perhaps now by the media. Or perhaps, one would think those in the legislatures who elected Mr. Gosch to the speakering would be tired of him getting his buttocks whooped on their behalf.

  3. Who signed on to this special session is listed on a piece of paper right next to Noem’s security costs…but we weren’t allowed to know that either…..

  4. If the Argus really wanted the info, all they had to do is pick up the phone and ask legislators. Pretty simple. But because controversy sells newspapers, they’ve created one.

    1. We shouldn’t have to call every legislator to get the voting results. This is bad governance, just like when you overturn the vote of the people.

    2. Respectfully, Rep. Deutsch, that is a very silly argument. Do you think the House should do away with roll call votes as well, because anyone who cares can just call 70 people and ask them how they voted? (Assuming they all take your call, assuming they are willing to answer the question, assuming they tell you the truth.)

      Legislators are being asked here to vote – they are signing their name “yes” to a special session. If you agree that the public deserves to know whether each legislator signed or not, by far the simplest way to share that with the public is to release the list, like the Senate did.

      This controversy wasn’t created by the Argus Leader – it was created by Speaker Gosch when he withheld information that of course should be available to the public.

    3. Fred, would all 70 House members answer that question, if called? If not, then your point falls flat. And if yes, then why wouldn’t the Speaker be willing to share the info?

      1. 9:57, we’ll never know because the Argus didn’t call any House Members, at least none that anyone is aware of. But if they made the calls, they could have sold another article that lists the names of those who responded yes, those who responded no, or those who refused to answer. I understand that’s not what the paper wants, but it could provide the public with greater insight into legislator responses.

        1. How is that providing greater insight then the House just releasing the vote like the court is going to make them do? It’s your job to serve the public and you are purposely being dense to make it harder for us to know if you are doing your job. You need to be removed from office asap. You are no longer serving the public, only yourself.

    4. What does the Speaker have to hide. This is pretty sad. Sooo….Mr Deutsch, since you said no one called you, I will ask now. Did you sign on?

  5. Ironic that in a discussion about gov’t transparency, commenters decline to use their name. Hard to have a “real” conversation with “anonymous.”

    1. Why? We’re not the elected official, we’re commenters on a silly blog. We already know you don’t really care what SD citizens think.

    2. We aren’t government. There is nothing ironic about it. You signed up to be in the public eye so do your job and quit trying to hide info from the public. Oh, and quit overturning the will of the voters.

    3. Ah yes, because South Dakota legislators and internet blog posters are the same. What an absolutely empty argument to make.

  6. To “Commenter on a silly blog,” all I am pointing out is if the Argus really wanted the information, it wouldn’t be too hard to get. One of their intrepid investigative reporters could have contacted legislators. Pretty simple.

    Frankly, I believe the info should be public, but that’s the Speaker’s call. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out a work-around.

    As for me, I’ve already stated I support the Special Session.

    1. The right work around is to sue Gosch since he doesn’t know how to properly do his job. Maybe, in the future, he won’t waste our time and tax dollars because his republican friends don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

      1. As long as you are talking about wasting money….the legislature will now spend a lot of money to have a special session and try to override the power of the judicial branch. Why? Because some did not like the first outcome and the fact that there was no hanging at sunrise.

        1. The legislature has every right to review the behavior of its members and decide if anything warrants punishment. There is no overstepping of powers or overruling a different government branch’s actions. You clearly don’t understand how our government works. It’s no different than the punishment they doled out to the drunk officials who showed up to work, even though it was a slap on the hand.

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