More turnover at the SOS? Director of Elections rumored to be out (already). *Updated*

My spies (who have been pretty accurate to date) are informing me of even more turnover at the Secretary of State’s office under Monae Johnson’s leadership.

Word is that Eileen Jensen the new Director of Elections has already quit, less than a month after the inauguration. In fact, it sounds like she may have parted ways with the SOS for a week or more now.

Was that even enough time to get the new name tags ordered and in?

Back to the drawing board for Monae on who the election authority for the State of South Dakota will be.

Quick update on this. I’m told Rachel Soulek who worked at the SOS before is now the new Director for the Division of Elections.

At least for now.

Julie Frye Mueller Scandal: why is her lobbyist husband a contact for her legislative matters?

Tonight’s committee hearing ended with no huge surprises. Expulsion was probably a leap too far to have the votes for, but I suspect her censure for the alleged actions with a LRC staffer will sail through.

But more than the allegations and the she said testimony against Frye-Mueller, there was something else that was testified to.

No, not Lee Schoenbeck’s dead cat. 🐱

It came up that Frye-Mueller’s husband is not just up as session as her spouse, but he’s a registered lobbyist for Citizens for Liberty. AND they admitted under oath that he is a designated contact for Frye-Mueller on her legislative matters with LRC. How exactly does his status as her legislative contact and a lobbyist for Citizens for Liberty work?

Haugaard attempted to walk that back by noting Mueller is “an unpaid lobbyist.” But why would that matter?  From his wife’s request, he has more access to LRC than any other spouse, and practically more access to LRC than any other Lobbyist.

There’s no wall between Mueller’s liaison and lobbyist roles. I’ve spoken to people with many years as legislators- they have seen it with no one else and it’s highly unusual.  In the past, there have been spouses who have lobbied. But no one has heard of the spouses getting the access and carte blanche as Mike Mueller has.

That might be another issue that JFM has to be called to account for.

Frye Mueller holding press conference today, to give her side of the story, and dig the hole deeper.

Sounds like Julie Frye Mueller is going to dig her hole a little deeper today. From my mailbox:

IMMEDIATE ADVISORY: Sen. Frye-Mueller to issue staement

Senator Julie Frye-Mueller
(605) 391-1663
[email protected]

MEDIA ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SENATOR FRYE-MUELLER TO ISSUE STATEMENT ON SENATE ACTIONS

Rapid City, SD (January 27, 2023) – Senator Julie Frye-Mueller will be making a public statement in response to the recent actions by the Senate.

WHAT:          Statement by Senator Julie Frye-Mueller in response to recent Senate actions

WHO:            Senator Julie Frye-Mueller

WHEN:          January 28, 2023, 2 pm

WHERE:       Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1273,

420 Main St,

Rapid City, SD 57701

###

MEDIA CONTACT

Senator Julie Frye-Mueller
(605) 391-1663
[email protected]

Release: Bills Proposed to Strengthen Election Laws

Bills Proposed to Strengthen Election Laws
Republican Lawmakers Announce Election Integrity Legislative Package

PIERRE–Republican lawmakers today announced the Stronger and Safer for 2024 legislative package to strengthen South Dakota’s election laws in an effort to protect the public’s confidence in the election system, reduce opportunities for fraud, expand transparency and improve the accuracy and security of the state’s voter registration system.

“As policy makers, it is our responsibility to make sure we have fair and honest elections with dependable results,” said Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree (R-District 8). “The people of South Dakota should have full confidence in our election results. These proposals are a step in the right direction to make sure South Dakota has some of the strongest election laws in the nation.”

“Republicans stand for fair and honest elections,” said House Majority Leader Will Mortenson (R-District 24). “In South Dakota, we have a good system, run by honest and capable local officials. We promised the voters we’d look under every rock to make it better and we have a package of legislation to do just that. Anyone who believes in election integrity is welcome to join the coalition.”

This package of common sense legislation is being introduced this session so that the updated laws are in effect for the 2024 election cycle. The coalition of lawmakers have spent time talking with voters, election officials, policy experts, and fellow lawmakers to develop legislation that enacts best practices from other states and makes common sense updates to our election process. 

Stronger and Safer for 2024 includes proposals to: secure ballot tabulation machines, establish a postelection audit process, establish distance requirements and poll watchers’ rights, ban unmonitored drop boxes, ban ballot harvesting activities, and clean up the state’s voter rolls. If enacted, these measures will strengthen South Dakota’s already strong election laws and further protect South Dakota’s reputation for fair and honest elections.

Republican lawmakers are committed to common sense solutions to strengthen South Dakota’s election laws with the Stronger and Safer for 2024 legislative package.

 

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Citizens for Liberty group has taken over Penn Co. GOP, Minnehaha to make right turn as well?

I’ve been getting reports this afternoon that the hard right Citizens for Liberty (CFL) group has taken over the Pennington County GOP, installing their candidates in county GOP leadership roles during county party elections. This will be interesting to see how combative the group is with the greater party in months to come.

Similar developments may be in store for the Minnehaha County GOP. The group is facing a “Sophie’s Choice” for chair elections where on one hand you have R. Shawn Tornow facing off against Rhonda Milstead. Just last weekend Milstead sent Steve Haugaard to the Central Committee meeting with her proxy.

Tornow versus a Haugaard ally? Is there a door number three?

SDGOP Central Committee rejects bylaw change on Delegates

This morning in the South Dakota Republican State central committee, the group rejected a proposed amendment to remove precinct committee people from participating in the state convention at this time.

Suprisingly, the group held off an any amendments to the precinct proposal, leaving the state’s republican party in the same position as it left the last convention, where concerns were raised over precinct people not representing the voters in their precincts, and not participating after convention.

This may drive further action by the state legislature, who is set to hear Senate Bill 40 in the near future, which is proposed to change how several statewide candidates are nominated for the November election by political parties.

The group did agree to consider further amendments at a later date, with several discussed at the meeting to be forwarded to the bylaws committee.