Has anyone figured out what Ellee Spawn is running for? Including Ellee herself?

spawn_runsRecalling an announcement this past summer, in the prior story mentioning Blake Curd running for State Senate, I was going to mention that it had already been announced that unsuccessful District 12 Democrat candidate Ellee Spawn had noted she was going to be a candidate for the seat.

In fact, I had made note of it this past summer, that Spawn had announced as a candidate, because that’s what Democrats in South Dakota do; run marginal candidates for higher office. (Marginal candidate: definition. see Paula Hawks).

I went to confirm with current information, as I vaguely thought I’d seen something about her running in 13.  Because apparently District 12 was not inhospitable enough for a liberal Democrat.Spawn_in_13_House

As I went to look, I noted her Twitter feed header has her listed as a candidate for State Senate in District 13, which would have her opposing Phyllis Heineman.

Except in her twitter feed, it has her ignoring Heineman, and taking pokes at State Representatives Westra and Mickelson, who are both obviously in the House.

If you look at Spawn’s Twitter header, it actually says Spawn for District 13 House in the Graphic, and if you click on the link, it does take you to a page titled “Ellee Spawn for District 13 State House.”

Spawn_in_13In fact, in looking for what she’s running for, she has a website also set up at “Democracy.com” with the following announcement pictured to the left.

Note the Date – on the page, she has a post on an “Official Campaign Announcement” that back on April 12th of last year, she made an official announcement “that she is running for House of Representatives in District 13 in 2016.”

And a follow up post dated from September of last year had also her noting “As your next state representative from District 13, her leadership will continue to reflect the priorities and concerns of our community.”

But….  Going back to the original announcement for District 12 State Senate, as late as July 2015, she was actively running against Blake Curd for State Senate in District 12.

So, at the same time she was running for State Senate in District 12, she was running for the House in District 13? Hmph. Her candidacy for the House in District 13 seems far less than a calling to public service than it does someone job hopping.

If anyone manages to figure out what Ellee Spawn is running for, be sure to let us know.

And they should probably tell Ellee, as she seems to be having trouble figuring it out as well.

District 12 legislative GOP Slate starting to coalesce. Curd, Beal, Jamison.

Talking with a legislator last night, its looking as if the District 12 State Legislative slate is starting to coalesce with rumors about people running and not running being struck down.

What I’m hearing is (as of last night) that State Senator Blake Curd will be a candidate for District 12 State Senate again, removing that as a potentially open seat.

State Representative Arch Beal will be returning as a candidate for the State House, and will be as formidable as he was in 2014.

The open seat from Representative Alex Jensen moving into District 13 (He’s getting married, you know) has already seen some interest, and City Councilor/Mayoral Hopeful Greg Jamison will be running as a candidate for the office.

To my knowledge, no one else is popping up on the GOP ticket at this time, but with an open seat, who knows!


US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: New Law a Win for Consumers, Producers, and Innovators

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressNew Law a Win for Consumers, Producers,
and Innovators

By Sen. John Thune

Honey production is an important part of South Dakota’s agriculture economy. In fact, we’re consistently one of the top honey-producing states in the country. While that’s a badge of honor many South Dakotans wear proudly, and rightly so, the United States produces less than half the amount of honey it consumes, which means there’s a lucrative market for foreign competitors to export their product to the United States.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about the unfair practice of circumventing our trade laws, conducted primarily by Chinese honey producers trying to cheat the market, a process also known as “honey laundering.” In 2011, Richard Adee, a well-known honey producer from Bruce, South Dakota, testified before a congressional panel I led about the negative economic effects honey laundering has had on domestic producers and family-run businesses. Thanks to producers like Richard who told their story and kept pressure on lawmakers in Washington, the United States is cracking down on these unethical practices and the importers who knowingly break the law. After all, free trade is only fair trade when our trading partners all play by the same set of rules.

These provisions to combat honey laundering, along with several others I authored aimed at providing relief to consumers, assistance to small businesses, and incentives to innovators, were recently signed into law as part of a larger trade enforcement bill, which enjoyed broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. It passed the Senate in early February by a vote of 75-20.

Also included in this trade enforcement bill is an important provision to make it easier for small businesses to import components they need to create products sold in traditional brick and mortar stores or online venues like eBay and Etsy. Unfortunately, when the ability of American entrepreneurs to send and receive necessary components or products becomes encumbered by unnecessary costs and red tape, it makes it more difficult for their business to grow. With that in mind, my provision significantly increases the threshold for certain duty-free imports, which reduces complexity and a heavy paperwork burden and gives these small businesses one less thing to worry about.

Finally, in a victory for both consumers and businesses, accessing the Internet will no longer be a taxable event. This is good news for families and small businesses who currently pay an access tax on their monthly cable or phone bill. A permanent ban on Internet access taxes – an effort I’ve championed for years – gives our entrepreneurs and innovators a greater incentive to not only continue working toward the next generation of connectivity in America, but the next big thing yet to be invented. I was also glad to see a provision I fought hard to include that gives states that currently tax Internet access four years to prepare for this transition.

Amid all the seemingly bad news that comes out Washington, D.C., in instances like this, it’s nice to share some good news. We’re starting 2016 off on the right foot, and I hope we’ll be able to score more victories like these for South Dakotans over the course of the year.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column – Justice Scalia: The Gold Standard

Rounds Logo 2016 MikeRounds official SenateJustice Scalia: The Gold Standard
By Senator Mike Rounds

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be greatly missed by his family and loved ones, as well as all Americans who share his core conservative values and beliefs. For almost 30 years, Justice Scalia was one of the court’s strongest defenders of our Constitution. His brilliant legal mind and animated character will be remembered, studied and celebrated for generations to come. The Senate recently paid its respects to Justice Scalia by unanimously passing a resolution honoring his life, legacy and legal contributions to our country.

Justice Scalia’s death has left a vacancy on the bench of our nation’s highest court that will be difficult to fill. Under the Constitution, the president is allowed to nominate a replacement, and the Senate has a Constitutional role of “advice and consent.” This is a Constitutional responsibility that I take very seriously. The Supreme Court is the final authority for interpreting federal laws and the Constitution. The decisions it makes often have long-lasting ramifications that – in one vote – can dramatically alter the course of our country.

At a time when the current administration has stretched the limits of the law and attempted to circumvent Congress and the federal court system, choosing the right candidate with the aptitude for this lifetime appointment is as important as ever. After giving it much thought, I have determined that my benchmark for the next Supreme Court Justice will be Justice Scalia himself. Scalia’s strict interpretation of the Constitution and deference to states’ rights set a gold standard by which his replacement should be measured.

Recently, every Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—which is in charge of reviewing court nominations—sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressing their firm belief that the people of the United States deserve to have a voice in determining the next Supreme Court justice. In their letter they wrote, “Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution is clear. The president may nominate judges of the Supreme Court. But the power to grant – or withhold – consent to such nominees rests exclusively with the United States Senate.” As a result, the committee does not plan on holding any hearings related to this issue until after the election in November. This decision will allow the American people to have a voice in the next Supreme Court Justice based upon who they elect as president in the upcoming election.

Whoever is confirmed to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court will be serving a lifetime appointment. Keeping in mind the current political makeup of the court, the man or woman who will replace Justice Scalia has the potential to hold incredible influence over the ideological direction of the court for generations to come. It is critically important that the next justice is committed to upholding the principles of the Constitution. We owe it to Justice Scalia, our judicial system, the Constitution and every American to uphold the highest standards when determining our next Supreme Court Justice.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Women of Influence

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Women of Influence
By Rep. Kristi Noem

Among South Dakota’s “Great Faces” are the pictures of countless women who have had a strong influence over the way we live and work. They may be our mothers, sisters or daughters. Perhaps a coworker, employer, or teacher. Maybe they’re one of South Dakota’s notable female pioneers. Perhaps she’s even the “Pioneer Woman” herself, Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose literary works brought life on the prairie to readers (and later viewers) around the globe.

There is also Gladys Pyle from Huron, who in 1938 became the first female senator in U.S. history to serve as a Republican. Even more recently, Rapid City’s Becky Hammon has broken significant barriers in sports, becoming the first full-time female coach in NBA history and the first female head coach in the NBA’s Summer League, which she led her team to win. Without question, some incredible women have called South Dakota home.

March is Women’s History Month, and as important as it is to reflect back on all the women whose shoulders we stand on today, I try to remain focused on building a bigger foundation on which the next generation of female leaders can stand. To do so, we must unlock the potential of hardworking Americans – both women and men – empowering them to build a future that is better and brighter and more prosperous than we could have imagined.

From a policy perspective, it means building paths to upward mobility, giving more families the opportunity to rise from poverty into the Middle Class. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, this is an area I am actively working on. There is so much we can do to make our welfare system more accountable to both taxpayers and the families it’s intended to help.

We also need to develop a healthy economy that produces more and better-paying jobs. We need to secure our neighborhoods, our borders, and our homeland. We need to create more opportunities – that’s the only way America’s next chapter will be more successful than the last.

On a personal level, I want to foster opportunities that help more South Dakotans thrive. One way I’m doing that is by holding my first Women of Influence Conference in Sioux Falls on March 31. This will be a networking and education opportunity for women who are interested in changing the minds and hearts of those around them. We have an incredible line-up of special guests who will provide tools, advice, and contacts that I’m hopeful will help women across the state take their next step – whether they are just starting off or backed by years of experience.

Attendees will hear from familiar faces, including Angela Kennecke of KELOLAND, Karla Santi of Blend Interactive, and Melissa Johnson of Oh My Cupcakes! Entertainment Tonight’s Mary Hart will be our keynote speaker and what an incredible story she has to tell, building a career that took her from Madison, South Dakota, to the red carpet.

Businesses and organizations from across the state will also be on hand to provide conference-goers with additional resources, tools and information. If you or a woman who has influenced your life is interested in attending the conference, please RSVP at noem.house.gov/WomenOfInfluence

I hope to see you there as we continue to build an even brighter tomorrow for South Dakota.


Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: South Dakota Receives Highest Rating Possible From Moody’s

daugaardheader DaugaardSouth Dakota Receives Highest Rating Possible From Moody’s
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

On Friday, February 19, we learned Moody’s has upgraded South Dakota’s lease-revenue bond rating to Aa1. This is great news for South Dakota. Aa1 is the highest rating South Dakota can receive from Moody’s. It is equivalent to the AAA rating we received from Standard & Poor’s last spring.

It took persistent effort for our state to earn this upgrade. Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and Jason Dilges, our state’s Chief Financial Officer, met four times with Moody’s officials, in Pierre and in New York, to discuss South Dakota’s rating. Following their first meeting in 2014, we adopted a number of new financial practices. These included annually issuing a debt affordability report, a long-term financial plan and a capital expenditure plan, to accompany the voters’ approval of a balanced budget amendment to our state constitution.

In large part, the upgrade is a result of our budgetary practices. In 2011 we dealt with a structural deficit without raising taxes or spending reserve funds. Each year thereafter, we have continued that stewardship by projecting our revenues and expenses with caution, so if we err, we err on the side of a surplus not a deficit. In 2014, after receiving an unexpected windfall, we used the money to retire bonds early and to pay cash for our new veterans’ home rather than borrowing.

These practices combined with high reserve levels, low debt and zero unfunded pension liability led Moody’s to award South Dakota the highest credit rating.

This upgrade is not just a symbolic victory for South Dakota. There are tangible benefits flowing from an upgrade. Although our constitution prohibits debt, the South Dakota Building Authority and the vocational education program within the South Dakota Health Education Facilities Authority borrow to finance public construction projects like state park improvements and public university dormitories. The upgrades we have received from S&P and Moody’s not only give the financial markets affirmation of our state’s exceptional credit worthiness, but also save substantial amounts in future interest payments. That means our AAA and Aa1 ratings will bring savings for universities, state parks and, ultimately, taxpayers.

As the nation and some states have experienced downgrades, South Dakota’s rating increases are indications that we’re on the right track. We don’t spend money we don’t have. We keep our budget in structural balance. We are frugal and seize opportunities to spend in the short term where it can lead to savings, efficiencies or better government in the long term.

We work hard to keep our state on a firm financial footing, and this is just the latest example of how that stewardship is paying dividends.


Al Novstrup will be back in the State Senate

State Representative Al Novstrup is not sitting still. With his son David taking a pass on running for the State Senate, Novstrup announced to SDWC today that he is “running for the Senate and will put in my petitions this week.”

Novstrup is a veteran legislator, and has managed to face down experienced democrat candidates in previous elections.

This year, Novstrup faces new Aberdeen resident Cory Heidelberger, who most recently ran for city commission a matter of days after arriving to townships past year, only to withdraw from the contest days prior to his eventual loss.

From Facebook: Janette McIntyre to primary Jeff Partridge

According to facebook this AM, Janette McIntyre is apparently circulating a petition to take on State Representative Jeff Partridge, who had already announced he’s running for the District 34 State Senate Seat.


It also seems that there’s possibly a group (I suspect Howie Minions) who are recruiting challengers to some of the open seats. I’m not sure why, as to my knowledge, Jeff Partridge would be the opposite of a liberal.

Regardless, Janette will be out to get your John Henry. (So, get your steel-driving men out?)

A post script to the Christopher P. Svarstad story. They Will Not Be Distracted.

I just received the following email in response to Christopher P. Svarstad story; the candidate from Yankton with the rap sheet as long as my arm.. who apparently is trapped in the 1950s with his terminology for African-Americans.


I’m Garret Wright spokesman for Chris Svarstad for District 18 House.

We’re responding to your recent post:

These kind of attacks are not surprising. This is exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away people of all parties. We’re not going to be distracted. Chris Svarstad has a message, that government isn’t working right and that it’s too intrusive. People want solutions, not just idle rhetoric. That’s what we’re going to talk about.

What? Apparently the candidate’s familiarity with our court system has somehow become divisive politics on my part? My dear readers, as you might suspect, I wasn’t going to let that one go.

Thank you for your note.

I will make sure I get it posted on Dakota War College this afternoon.

Not because I believe there’s an ounce of sincerity behind the statement, but it is absolutely, hands down, the funniest damn thing I have read all day.

I’m sure readers will giggle as much as I am right now.

I even got a response.

Ok. We’re not going to be distracted. Thanks

Good to hear they’re not going to be distracted. Now if they would just consider reality.


I think I hit a nerve. Since writing the original story, Svarstad has taken a big ax to his social media, heavily redacting his linked in profile, and erased his “business page” with wild claims of being a political consultant.

He also erased and replaced a personal website page of his with one attacking me in any number of legally actionable ways.  But, that’s a chat for myself and an attorney. In the meantime, if you look at his Facebook page (where he deleted the post where he called a CNN reporter a “fat Negro”), there is an attack on me that’s funny:

Apparently I’ve gone downhill since Governor George Mickelson used to read me.  Never mind he was killed in a plane crash in 1993, over twenty years before I started writing. Although, it’s good to hear that he liked it.

And someone explain to me how noting those arrest notices from the newspaper were lies?  Darn arrests. They must have gotten the wrong guy.

It’s going to be a long election for someone.  Not me, but for someone…

Dems pick up Yankton candidate for House of Representatives… If they want him, that is. (Updated)

(Update – apparently, I missed a drug paraphernalia arrest that was noted in the court dispositions for late October, 2014 in the Yankton Press and Dakotan  -PP)

State Democrats picked up a candidate yesterday in Yankton – Christopher P. Svarstad – for the State House of Representatives. The bad thing (for Dems) is that this is the first thing that comes up when I google him.

Ouch, that’s kind of bad.  And apparently it isn’t the only reference to Mr. Svarstad enjoying the company of the local law enforcement, according to the Yankton Press and Dakotan.

December 17, 2014 – Christopher Svarstad, 26, Yankton, was arrested Tuesday on multiple failure to comply warrants.

October 22, 2014 (Court Disposition) – Christopher Patrick Svarstad, 200 E. 15th St. #4, Yankton; Use or possession of drug paraphernalia, $270

September 25, 2014 – Christopher Svarstad, 26, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant for failure to comply with a sentence.

August 4, 2014 – • Christopher Svarstad, 26, Yankton, was arrested Saturday for violation of a protection order.

January 25, 2013 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant.

January 9, 2013 – • Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Tuesday on a warrant for second-degree petty theft.

October 17, 2012 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant.

August 18, 2012 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Thursday for second-degree petty theft.

June 8, 2012 – Christopher Svarstad, 24, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant for failure to comply/second-degree petty theft.

October 21, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday for second-degree petty theft

October 1, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Thursday for tampering with a motor vehicle and second-degree petty theft.

July 22, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Wednesday for violation of a protection order.

July 19, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Sunday for simple assault.

May 19, 2011 – Christopher Svarstad, 23, Yankton, was arrested Tuesday for disturbing the peace.

(With a rap sheet like this, he’s sure to have the Cory Heidelberger endorsement any day.)

If you check out Svarstad’s Linked In profile, we start going even further down the rabbit hole, as his party allegiances tend to bounce around a bit. According to what he’s put on Linked In, not only is he claiming he was an “Intern” for Rounds for US Senate, he’s been a “Senior Advisor” for Bernie Hunhoff for Senate for the past 2 years.

Except according to the Rounds campaign person I spoke with, from a quick glance, they didn’t see any record of him ever having been on the payroll. So, they’re not quite sure where this “Internship” thing comes from, unless it’s was at the branch office of “Rounds for Senate” Svarstad was organizing in his head.  (Update, I spoke with Bernie as well, and it’s about the same thing).

So, long rap sheet (and that’s what was in the paper), and resume items that are not only unconfirmed but refuted. Another quality candidate brought to you by Ann Tornberg’s South Dakota Democrat party.

Bonus Svarstad item!   In case you were going to say “but that was all in the past…”