What if the vote for expulsion is 23?

This is interesting information coming out on the rules being proposed for the special session. It will take a supermajority for expulsion, but just a simple majority for exoneration. Check this out from today's Argus Leader:
It will take a two-thirds vote if South Dakota senators decide a Flandreau Democrat should be expelled for inappropriate behavior, under rules released Monday.

The rules, proposed for the special session scheduled Nov. 27 to investigate allegations against state Sen. Dan Sutton, say it would take 60 percent support of senators to discipline or censure the lawmaker and a simple majority to exonerate him.


The rules also state that if a written resignation by the senator being investigated is received before the investigation has ended, the head of the committee may terminate the meetings.

As chairman of the Legislative Research Council Executive Board, Olson is the official responsible for signing any subpoenas the committee might issue. He said he has never seen a similar situation in 20 years of legislative experience.

"Nothing like it," he said.

The proposed rules must be adopted as soon as the Senate convenes, Olson said.

While the rules were written specifically for the special session, Schoenbeck said, "I assume they would provide a starting point for the obvious work the next legislature has to do in drafting a better set of rules for dealing with discipline and ethics issues."

Read it all here.

But what happens if the vote for expulsion falls short of the 24 votes needed? What if it's 23? You can't tell me that the same people would then turn around and exonerate the accused Senator.

That would set up a tough situation come the next session in January. Because what would happen if this occurs? I doubt that the new Senate would change the results given stronger Democratic numbers. It might still be a majority of Senators, but not enough to expel.

So how would the Senate protect it's employees from harassment and itself from the possibility of massive liability in the case of an accused Senator found not guilty and not innocent ? Would they draft new rules this next spring limiting the contact that the Senator would have with any male employees? The last thing that the Senate would want to do is to set itself up for a huge lawsuit.


Anonymous said…
Will it be 2/3 of the entire body or 2/3 of the 34 sitting in judgement of Sutton? In that case 23 would be enough!
Anonymous said…
this entire ridiculous affair was caused by the national democrats making a big "scandal" out of Mark Foley, the gay congressman... in the end, they killed off one of their own stars
Anonymous said…
Let's give the process a chance to work THEN you can second guess everyone.

2/3 vote needed to expel (24 votes). Majority needed to exonerate (18 votes). 60% needed to censure (21 votes). Sounds fair to me. If this were a criminal trial, it would have to be unanimous.

None of us know what the evidence is yet. After 11/27, we'll know if there even is any evidence, and what the Senate has done.

By the way, this will set a precedent for those legislators who like partying with interns also. Even though interns are older they are still employees.
Anonymous said…
But at this point any rules for procedure are only proposed and subject to debate and amendment by the Senate before adoption. Since Mr. Sutton was re-elected to another term, it is doubtful that the Senate will expel him for a month only to have him come back as a duly elected senator in January. And who, in January, will lead the push for his ouster? The current R & D Senate leadership will be pretty much gone. (Thank you term limits.) It would not be surprising that the most that comes out of this is that Dan gets slapped on the wrist.
Anonymous said…
A 2/3rds vote is a vote of the members elect. If Sutton does not get to vote,or chooses not to vote, the number remains 24 votes.
Anonymous said…
Sutton has just resigned from this session! Now what happens??
Anonymous said…
Where did you hear he resigned?
Anonymous said…
The Argus Leader on-line is reporting his resignation. However, does this mean that he will be back next session as "a duly elected member of the Senate?"
Anonymous said…
It's on Keloland.com

go here: http://www.keloland.com/NewsDetail6162.cfm?Id=0,52426

Smooth move by Butler.

Here's the deal. The next senate will take it up. Inappropriate behavior cannot be tolerated.

If there is enough smoke to warrant a criminal investigation by the executive branch there should be enough to warrant action by the legislative branch.

Protecting the pages and other employees from miscondcut has to be the highest priority for the new Senate.

I hope that the D's can concur with wanting to protect our children.
Anonymous said…
Yes, Senator Sutton will be back for the next session as a duly elected member of the senate. Knowing him personally, his main reasoning for this is that he is going to save the tax players of SD a lot of $, the special session would cost a lot of money, and resigning for the rest of the 2006 session, which is already over, will cause the new special session to take place during the 2007 session. So essentially it will lengthen that session a little bit, but all in all it will save the taxpayers of South Dakota a lot of money.
Anonymous said…
I don't buy his saving the taxpayers money bit. I think he had this planned all along. He kept mute on the issue, kept running knowing that he would probably win, then he could resign this year (which in itself is ridiculous since he does nothing until the next session anyhoo), and then the next session can deal with it if it chooses to (a new crop of legislators and elapsed time being on his side).

I think it is arrogant, in your face, and a slimy move at best. I just hope the 2007 legislature DOES deal with it.

Actually, Sutton will probably keep his seat and, just like Clinton, any scandal will just slip away and he will continue on his merry way to bigger and better things.

This is the more disgusting than all the politics of this last election cycle.
Anonymous said…
but what happens if there are 19 or 20 votes against Sutton?
He is left in limbo-land....b/c it's not enough to exonerate, but not enough to censure, either.

See the math?

Assuming Sutton gets to vote....

a 24-11 vote will expel him
a 21-14 vote will censure him
a 17-18 vote exonerates him
but a 20-15 vote does nothing...it's a hung-jury
Anonymous said…
"allegedly" hung.

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