VICE.com identifies prominent Neo-Nazi Podcaster & vetting agent for white supremacists as being located here in Brookings, SD

I read this yesterday and was a bit shocked.

Vice.com is identifying a Brookings, SD man as a neo-Nazi & the “go to guy” for vetting new white supremacist recruits:

A prominent neo-Nazi recruiter and podcast host has been unmasked as a 29-year-old South Dakota man whose podcasts, until today, were widely available on popular platforms like Audible, Deezer, and Spotify. These slickly produced podcasts have helped promote dozens of neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups, including a Nazi homeschool network based in Ohio.

and..

Riggin Lynn Scheer, from Brookings, South Dakota, has been operating in the midwest under the name “Gordon Kahl,” in homage to the original Kahl who was a neo Nazi and anti-government protester from North Dakota who ultimately was shot and killed by law enforcement during a shootout in northern Arkansas in 1983.

and..

Scheer has been active in the midwest’s neo-Nazi space for years. National white supremacist groups have used Scheer as their go-to person in the Midwest when they needed new members vetted, according to the researchers who have been tracking Scheer’s career for years.

Read the entire article here.

Well, that might explain a couple of incidents that have happened around the community from time to time.

Scary and highly unusual stuff for South Dakota’s largest University community.

Campaign finance revision bill scuttled based on liberal talking points, ignoring facts and inflation.

The South Dakota State House killed a long overdue bill this week to revise campaign finance limits to be more in line with vastly higher costs for advertising, postage, signs, stakes, etcetera., based on a lot of faux populism and liberal talking points.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Roger Chase, of Huron, would have increased contribution limits to statewide candidates from $4,000 to $5,000, and doubled the limit in legislative and county races from $1,000 to $2,000. The increase applies to the statute governing limits for individuals as well as entities such as corporations and nonprofits.

“The last time that this increased was 22 years ago,” Rep. Gary Cammack, a Republican from Union Center, said in favor of the change. “Consider the inflation that has occurred in running a campaign: the cost of radio, television, newspapers and postcards.”

and..

Hansen worried that “big corporate interests” would be among the only beneficiaries of the increase and would turn legislative attention away from constituents.

“If we’re honest, I guarantee you that most of your ordinary, everyday constituents don’t even have $1,000,” Hansen said. “But you know who does? Corporate interests.”

Read that here, and try not to barf.

I can’t help but roll my eyes, because the outcome of this bill was not based on logic.

It was killed because it served the narrow interests of a few, as opposed being appropriate for the times, to making the process more accessible, and was based on talking points as opposed to reason.

 

Costs have gone up over the past 22 years. Way up. But not as much for those already elected.

As Representative Cammack pointed out, the last time the campaign finance limits were increased was over twenty years ago. As someone who deals with campaign materials and mailings, I can guarantee that things have skyrocketed in cost in the intervening years.

Costs go up every year. In the case of this last election due to Bidenflation and oil prices, Sign prices have absolutely skyrocketed, they went up at the start of 2022, and then again after the primary.  Due to steel and shipping shortages in 2022, the basic economy yard sign stakes that were $1 became $2.

Over the past 20 years, postage has gone up…

year first class
postage rate,
cents (current)
2003 .37
2004 .37
2005 .37
2006 .39
2007 .41
2008 .42
2009 .44
2010 .44
2011 .44
2012 .45
2013 .46
2014 .49
2015 .49
2016 .47
2017 .49
2018 .50
2019 .55
2020 .55
2021 .55
2022 May .58

Postage also took another jump in July of this last year, and based on recent post office news, you will see them take another bump up to $.63 cents. I would fully anticipate that with current trends, we will see at least another bump before 2024.  There are hard costs that many campaigns experience, and the challenges to raise money just sets the bar to run for office much higher.

When the legislature refuses to look at 20-year-old campaign finance limits, they skip over the fact that in doing so, there is a strong element of self-protection that goes into it. The power of incumbency is a tough one to overcome. And going along with that is the fact that just about all of the legislators voting against it not only have established name ID, but they already have a stock of reusable signs and stakes and other materials – hard costs that almost all start-up campaigns have to spend money on that they don’t.

 

The ridiculous “Corporate Interests” argument against the bill was not based in truth.

Further underlining the point why this was a bad vote – the utterly ridiculous claim that somehow by raising campaign finance limits, it’s going to bring “big corporate interests” in.  Tell me another scary bedtime story. 

On a federal level, corporations have gotten even more squeamish about corporate donations. As noted in the Harvard Business Review:

Perhaps most important, political donations greatly heighten corporate risk. In an era when customers, employees, and investors are increasingly scrutinizing companies’ records on employee, environmental, social, and governance issues (we prefer the term EESG over the more common ESG, to appropriately emphasize the importance of employees), the threat of blowback from political contributions has become too great for executives to ignore.

Read the article here.

Despite the legal framework in place to allow it now, corporations donate even less to state and legislative political campaigns. It is as rare as hen’s teeth.

The hands down champion in legislative fundraising this last election was State Representative Tony Venhuizen.  As a former Regent, son-in-law to former Governor Daugaard, Long-time campaign worker, Tony arguably has among the best fundraising success of all other people in the South Dakota Legislature, raising an absolutely staggering $126,301 in funds for his State Legislative campaign effort. How much of that came from corporate dollars?

$1450. Approximately 1.1%. Try not to gasp and be shocked over that corporate donation of $50. 

If opponents to the measure are going to do all their pearl-clutching regarding “corporate interests” based on 1.1% of what the most successful legislative campaign this year raised, they need to have their heads examined. Do they fear it doubling to 2.2% in the next election?

 

If they are that concerned, why don’t they improve disclosure?

While they stand opposed to modernizing campaign finance limits, you can’t help but notice that the enforcement of the rules we have is kind of hit and miss.

In the past when the Secretary of State put in place a system to track candidate campaign finances – one which caught when donations went over certain amounts – legislators hated it, and pilloried the office for the system. Incoming Secretary of State Monae Johnson has expressed an interest in returning to that kind of system, and that’s one of the best things she could do, but that may be some time off until the staffing issues that her office has been experiencing stabilizes.

Moreso than bemoaning “corporate interests” in a demonstrably false manner than are donating far less than anyone else to state political campaigns, open government and full disclosure are far better tools to rely on.

 

Just as we increase allowances for the inflation of prices in the modern economy, while it might not be the most popular subject in the world, it’s not an unreasonable thing to allow the support that people give to political campaigns to slightly increase in value over the course of 22 years.

Falsely bemoaning an increase in the amount individuals are allowed to donate as somehow enhancing “corporate interests” rather than the actual inflationary increase it is?

Well, it’s less about protecting the world from the “corporate interests” than it is about protecting those currently in office and their own self-interest.

Julie Frye Mueller scandal continues: Frye-Mueller unrepentant, complains, and new bill is to punish her

Now that EVERYONE IN THE STATE SENATE with the exception of one voted for her censure, Julie Frye-Mueller is apparently unrepentant, and taking no responsibility for her actions. As she has just issued a statement to that effect, and claiming that “the language contained in the staff person’s statement was shocking and filthy and is not what I said.”

Unfortunately for Frye-Mueller, nobody but her seat mate believed her.

And in her statement, she brings up a new bill that has been introduced which would prevent her husband, whom she has given unheard of authority for a legislative spouse, to be a lobbyist at the same time:

SENATOR FRYE-MUELLER ISSUES STATEMENT ON REINSTATEMENT

Rapid City, SD (January 27, 2023) – Today, the South Dakota Senate reinstated Senator Julie Frye-Mueller, with a public ensure and restricting her interactions with the Legislative Research Council. In response, Senator Julie Frye-Mueller has issued the following statement:

“I am thankful to rightfully return to the South Dakota Senate to represent the citizens of District 30.  The action of this body in suspending the Rules of the Senate to immediately suspend a member WITHOUT DUE PROCESS on an accusation alone without evidence is simply unjust.  The consequence of these actions were to silence the voices of over 25,000 people.  Now deadlines for some legislative action have passed without any obvious remedy.

If lawmakers can silence me without any due process and by ignoring the law, or suspending the rules and laws we instituted, why do we make such laws? Their failure to respond to my continued requests clearly appears to be an orchestrated attempt to obstruct my ability to defend myself and is politically motivated.  We were given only 27 hours to even know what was being claimed and to coordinate legal counsel and witnesses.

As I said in my sworn testimony, the language contained in the staff person’s statement was shocking and filthy and is not what I said or conveyed.  That aspect of the conversation was entirely fabricated.  The permanent damage done to my reputation and that of my family is a stain that will not go away.

The actions of these Senators will likely serve as a deterrent to anyone who might consider public service.  In fact, I understand that there is already a Bill (SB 197) being submitted as, what appears to be, additional retribution.  When will the attacks end?

Finally, the actions of the Senate are absolutely unprecedented.  However, I will do all that I can to continue to be an advocate for District 30 and the people of South Dakota.  I am grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support for me and my family in the midst of this attack.  God bless you all.”

The bill, Senate Bill 197, reads as follows:

As I had noted last night, as part of her and her husband’s testimony,

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.

Read that here.

As I’d noted, what has become apparent is that there is literally no wall between her husband handling her legislation and being a private lobbyist for Citizens for Liberty. If there ever was one.

Little wonder she has ranked at the highest levels of their scorecard, and in 2018 had actually put in a bill to directly benefit Citizens for Liberty:

The measure was an attempt to pass legislation allowing use of the Legislative Research Council to do the dirty work of groups such as the Citizens for Liberty, who were strongly involved in the measure, because they want research help to assist in attacking legislators.

“This is a positive step toward more open government,” Frye-Mueller said. She asked House members to “lift the roadblock” that prohibits the Legislative Research Council from putting together voting records by lawmaker.

“The data can be organized by any relevant statistic,” Weaver said. “Most people just want to know how does their legislator vote.”

and..

Weaver said she was willing to accept a report after each legislative session.

Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, picked apart Weaver’s group. The committee chairman said a scorecard assembled in the past by Weaver was “extremely distorted.”

and..

“I will tell you this: I chose the bills,” Weaver said. She considered perspectives from some lobbyists and from her board.

Mickelson again urged defeat.“To this point, our legislative research staff has been nonpartisan. That is very important to the impartiality they bring to the work they do for all of us,” Mickelson said. “There’s a lot of judgment compiling a voting record.”

and..

Rhoden said it was easy to track his record. “And it continues to get easier,” he said.

Rhoden added that he was “extremely, extremely disappointed” by the Weaver group’s attempt to reach “a predetermined outcome.”

Read that here.

So, the spouse of the President of the conservative Citizens for Liberty group (Rep. Julie Frye-Mueller), and Tonchi Weaver, the ‘project director’ for Citizens for Liberty, want a law commanding the state Legislative Research Council to do their research?

Read that here.

If Julie thinks it’s a measure directed at punishing her, she should probably take a hard look.

Because it’s less related to punishment, and more about how uncomfortably close the association actually is.

Release: Senate Votes to Discipline Sen. Frye-Mueller

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senate Votes to Discipline Sen. Frye-Mueller

PIERRE—The South Dakota Senate voted today to discipline Senator Julie Frye-Mueller (R-District 30) for conduct unbecoming the Senate in response to accusations of misconduct with an employee of the Legislative Research Council (LRC). The full Senate concurred with the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion’s recommendation of censure with 33 yea votes and 1 nay vote.

Based upon testimony and their investigation, the Select Committee unanimously determined that Sen. Frye-Mueller engaged in harassment, as specified in Joint Rule 1B-3(2), that the harassment had the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual employee’s work performance and creating an intimidating working environment in the LRC. The Select Committee recommended Sen. Frye-Mueller be censured and disciplined. As a result, Sen. Frye-Mueller’s suspension was deemed appropriate and it was recommended that she should be immediately reinstated to the body. However, as part of her reinstatement, Sen. Frye-Mueller’s interaction with Legislative staff will be limited to the LRC director or his designees for the remainder of the 98th Legislative Session.

“As elected leaders, we rely on our staff to help us legislate effectively and deliver the best policy solutions for South Dakota. As employees, they rely on us for a safe work environment,” said Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree (R-District 8). “I want to acknowledge my Senate colleagues as they conducted themselves professionally throughout this process, listened to all sides of the story, and respected the privacy of those involved. The Senate is ready to move forward and direct our full attention back to the people’s business.”

“The standard of conduct and professionalism for elected officials is a high one, especially with our Legislative staff,” said Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22), chair of the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion. “Today’s action by the Senate is a strong statement that harassment and intimidation will not be tolerated in this esteemed body. I’m proud of the work of our committee and I want to thank those involved for their due diligence and fairness afforded to all parties.”

“The select committee voted unanimously last night to draft the report to censure, discipline, limit access to staff, and immediately end the Senator’s suspension,” said Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-District 15), vice-chair of the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion and Senate Minority Leader. “Today the committee voted, again, unanimously to accept that report and send it to the Senate floor. I am pleased that the Senate voted 33-1 to adopt that report. It is essential that our LRC staff have a safe, non-partisan, professional work environment in which to do their work on our behalf.”

Yea votes on final consideration were Sen. Arch Beal (R-District 12), Sen. Jim Bolin (R-District 16), Sen. Shawn Bordeaux (D-District 26), Sen. Bryan Breitling (R-District 23), Sen. Jessica Castleberry (R-District 35), Sen. Casey Crabtree (R-District 8), Sen. Sydney Davis (R-District 17), Sen. Randy Deibert (R-District 31), Sen. Michael Diedrich (R-District 34), Sen. Helene Duhamel (R-District 32), Sen. Red Dawn Foster (D-District 27), Sen. Brent Hoffman (R-District 9), Sen. Jean Hunhoff (R-District 18), Sen. David Johnson (R-District 33), Sen. Joshua Klumb (District 20), Sen. Jack Kolbeck (R-District 13), Sen. Steve Kolbeck (R-District 2), Sen. Liz Larson (D-District 10), Sen. Ryan Maher (R-District 28), Sen. Jim Mehlhaff (R-District 24), Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-District 15), Sen. Al Novstrup (R-District 3), Sen. Herman Otten (R-District 6), Sen. Tim Reed (R-District 7), Sen. Michael Rohl (R-District 1), Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-District 5), Sen. Kyle Schoenfish (R-District 19), Sen. Jim Stalzer (R-District 11), Sen. Erin Tobin (R-District 21), Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22), Sen. John Wiik (R-District 4), Sen. Dean Wink (R-District 29), Sen. Larry Zikmund (R-District 14).

Sen. Tom Pischke (R-District 25) was the only no vote.

###

 

BACKGROUND: On Jan. 25, 2023, Senate leadership was notified of an allegation of unprofessional behavior against Senator Julie Frye-Mueller by a Legislative Research Council (LRC) staff member.

Because of the seriousness of the allegations, Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck

(R-District 5) removed Senator Frye-Mueller from her committee assignments as permitted by Senate Rule S4-1.

On Jan. 26, Senate Republicans received a detailed report from an LRC staff member alleging inappropriate behavior and harassment related to private maternal matters, including childhood vaccines and breastfeeding, which took place in the LRC office inside the State Capitol Building. Senator Frye-Mueller was given an opportunity to speak to the Senate Republican Leadership on Jan. 25. Comments made by Sen. Frye-Mueller in that private discussion were inconsistent with her public statements and the report received from the LRC staff member. Senators voted to suspend Senator Frye-Mueller on Jan. 26 pending a full hearing on the merits.

The Senate adopted rules for the proceedings on Monday, Jan. 30. The Select Committee held a hearing on Jan. 31 to allow both parties involved to present their case. Documents related to this matter, including the draft report and redacted employee statement, are available online at the LRC website.

The Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion was chaired by Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22). Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-District 15) was the vice-chair. Other members of the Select Committee were Sen. Jim Bolin (R-District 16), Sen. Sydney Davis (R-District 17), Sen. Helene Duhamel (R-District 32), Sen. Brent Hoffman (R-District 9), Sen. Erin Tobin (R-District 21), and Dean Wink (R-District 29).

Thune Announces Committee Assignments for 118th Congress

 

Thune Announces Committee Assignments for 118th Congress

“I look forward to continuing to advance South Dakota’s priorities by delivering common-sense solutions for families, farmers and ranchers, and businesses and ensuring South Dakotans have a seat at the table in Washington when important decisions are being made.” 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today released the following statement after being selected to serve on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; the Senate Finance Committee; and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“I am honored to once again serve on these three important and effective committees that will help deliver meaningful results for South Dakota,” said Thune. “I look forward to continuing to advance common-sense solutions for families, farmers and ranchers, and businesses and ensuring South Dakotans have a seat at the table in Washington when important decisions are being made.”

The Senate Agriculture Committee has jurisdiction over matters relating to: U.S. Department of Agriculture activities, including farm programs, crop insurance, conservation programs, and livestock marketing rules; the Rural Utilities Service and Rural Development, which carry out important programs relating to rural energy development, rural business financing, and rural health care services; nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as food stamps); and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees futures markets.

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over matters relating to: taxation and other general revenue measures; bonded debt of the United States; customs, collection districts, and ports of entry and delivery; reciprocal trade agreements; tariff and import quotas; the transportation of dutiable goods; deposit of public moneys; general revenue sharing; health programs under the Social Security Act, including Medicare, Medicaid, and other health and human services programs financed by a specific tax or trust fund; and Social Security.

The Senate Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over matters relating to: the Coast Guard; communications; highway safety; inland waterways; interstate commerce; marine and ocean navigation safety and transportation; marine fisheries; merchant marine and navigation; nonmilitary aeronautical and space sciences; weather and atmospheric activities; regulation of consumer products and services and regulation of interstate common carriers, including railroads, buses, trucks, vessels, pipelines, and civil aviation; science; engineering; technology research and development and policy; sports; and transportation.

Thune also serves as the Senate Republican whip, the number two position in Senate Republican leadership, a position he has held since 2019.

###

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.

Johnson Protecting U.S. Farmland from the CCP

Johnson Protecting U.S. Farmland from the CCP

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) cosponsored two bills to protect America’s farmland and businesses from the Chinese Communist Party and add the Secretary of Agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

“We have seen foreign adversaries increase their ownership of American farmland and ag businesses over the past ten years, and it’s concerning,” said Johnson. “This poses a threat to our food supply, food security, and supply chain. The PASS Act ensures America’s ag land and ag businesses are not owned and operated by our foreign adversaries. Given increased threats, the Secretary of Agriculture needs a seat at the CFIUS table to ensure the protection of American farmland and agriculture interests.”

The amount of foreign-owned U.S. agricultural land has increased significantly over the past ten years. Johnson is a member of the Select Committee on China, which plans to examine China’s influence on American Agriculture in the coming months.

The Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act led by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) would:

  • Prohibit China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from purchasing U.S. agricultural land and agricultural companies,
  • Add the Secretary of Agriculture as a standing member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to consider agriculture needs when making determinations affecting our national security,
  • Require the President to submit a report to Congress on any waiver granted to a prohibited country, and
  • Require reporting from the Secretary of Agriculture on the risk of foreign purchases of agriculture companies to the American agriculture sector.

The Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act led by U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) would:

  • Add the Secretary of Agriculture as a member to CFIUS,
  • Add language to protect the U.S. agriculture industry from foreign control through transactions, mergers, acquisitions, or agreements,
  • Designate agricultural supply chains as critical infrastructure and critical technologies, and
  • Require a report to Congress on current and potential foreign investments in the U.S. agricultural industry from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Government Accountability Office (GAO).

###

Julie Frye Mueller Scandal: 33 Yea, 1 Nay for Censure, Limiting of access to LRC, and lifting of suspension

The motion to discipline State Senator Julie Frye Mueller for her conduct with an employee with the Legislative Research Council has gone to the Senate floor, and passed almost unanimously on a vote of 33 Yeas, with Senator Pischke as the 1 Nay for her formal Censure, the Limiting of Frye Mueller’s access to the Legislative Research Council, and the lifting of Frye-Mueller’s suspension from the Senate Floor.

The Sergeant of Arms was commanded by Larry Rhoden at the podium to contact Senator Frye Mueller to let her know she could come back to the Senate.

Frye-Mueller quietly returned to the floor to little notice and no fanfare during the discussion on the next legislative matter, and took her place next to her only defender, Senator Tom Pischke.