Argus Leader Reporting the Sutton hearing is full speed ahead

Despite reports late last week of State Senator Dan Sutton leaving Pierre on Thursday, with no word on his return, the Argus is reporting this AM that it's full speed ahead for the hearing this next week:
The state Capitol will be thick with lawyers this week, a sure sign that tumultuous events are unfolding inside.

Lawyer-lobbyists typically ply the halls during legislative sessions, but the disciplinary hearing to investigate Sen. Dan Sutton is sure to draw more barristers than usual.

Sutton, a Democrat from Flandreau, is represented by two of the top defense lawyers in South Dakota. The Senate, which is holding the hearing, is represented by former U.S. Attorney Jim McMahon. Attorney General Larry Long and others from his office also are expected to be on hand.

Then there's former governor and congressman Bill Janklow, who recently got his law license back. Janklow represents the high school page who accused Sutton last year of sexual misconduct.


Once you count 35 senators and the people associated with the hearing, there's room for only a couple dozen spectators. Throw in some curious House members, and there won't be much room for anybody else.

The hearing should be available to anyone with an Internet connection.

The state plans to broadcast the proceedings live on its Web site, Fry said.

Read it all here. I might try to get up there directly for the hearings, but if I can't, at least I'll be able to live blog it from home.

I don't know of any legislators who truly want this event to happen. But, for better or for worse, it's proceeding full steam ahead and will change the standards, and the entire playing field of legislative behavior forever.


Anonymous said…
Oh great- Janklow (South Dakota's own OJ Simpson...) is representing the page. That really adds to the class and propriety of this situation. Innocent or guilty, I feel terrible for Sen. Sutton that his name is going to be forever tacked to this motley crew.

I hope that our legislature has time to actually pass some legislation this session, too.
Anonymous said…
You're whining about Janklow? Try the stream of bull---- coming from someone with twice the ego and no brakes on his mouth, Pat Duffy. I don't feel the least bit sorry for Sutton. It seems folks are forgetting there is a need for justice for a high school page (who's now in college) and his family who've been dragged through the mud ... just because they seek justice. As importantly, the legislature needs to adopt a set of ethics standards and processes in writing and to make ethical behavior a priority. Until now, ethical issues have been defined by the attorney general as a weapon against the minority party. This must end and the people should not allow legislators who balk at the enforcement of ethical standards and grievance procedures to remain in office.
Anonymous said…
The "alleged" victim and his family DESERVE to be drug through the mud...they seem to have a problem telling the truth. If you are going to lie and ruin people you deserve every ounce of mud in your face you get!!!
Anonymous said…
Anon 11:10

You are a callous wretch.
Anonymous said…
11:31am -

"...problem telling the truth."

I don't think that this could ever be looked at as a lie. Pull your head out of the Sutton sand and take a look around. There's a lot more to see.
Anonymous said…
PP, what is your occupation aside from blogging? Please spare us the recitation on your 19 years of political observations and involvement.
Anonymous said…
Well, apparently there WAS a third person in the was anon 11:31. How else could he/she be so absolutely sure that the accuser is a liar?
Anonymous said…
In the same bed??? Is that true? If so, I hadn’t heard that. Ick. What was he thinking? Why would a grown man even entertain the possibility of sharing his bed with a younger person who is essentially an employee? At best, this shows incredibly poor judgment. At worst…well…here we are.
Anonymous said…
12:36 PP works for the governor. Thus the reason you never see much hard criticism of his policies or his leadership. Because with this governor anyone who is on the state payroll who critiques the governor in any way less than positive will find themselves looking for work in a very short period of time.
PP said…
Anon 12:36, aside from 2:32 being wrong on a couple of accounts, you can browse the SDWC website and read when I've mentioned it a few times in the past. Or, you're also welcome to e-mail me.
Anonymous said…
so much for your predictions last week pp
Anonymous said…
I for one am looking forward to Dan's side of things being told. And, I agree, no one besides Austin and Dan can know for sure what happened in that room. However, based on the two individual’s characters and past behaviors, I lean towards the Sutton Camp on this one.
Anonymous said…

Individual's character? Are you simply ignoring Sutton's past feminism or disturbing behaviors? Don't quote me on that, I don't remember exactly how Kloucek stated it in his email to everyone! I think that put a nail in it when one of his coworkers questioned his character and preferences.
B- said…
I agree with 7:12. Not everybody in Flandreau sees Danny as this town's "Golden Boy Done Good". There are some questions about some of his actions in the past.

And don't ask me to prove it by giving times, places, details, people involved, blood samples, quotes, etc., because that would probably get my comment deleted.

I think I'll implement the Sutton tactic of keeping quiet and waiting for the right moment for the truth to come out.
Anonymous said…
Oh whatever. Dan is one of the nicest and most honest people I know. The AG's office investigated him practically back to his date of birth and couldn't find crap. So, you really expect me to believe that YOU know something incriminating about "some of his actions in the past". You really are getting desperate now. There are a large number of people that support Sutton and well, that says something to me. 57% of the vote after these allegations were made public on the news also says something. Most people don’t believe the allegations or the alleged victim and even less will after next week.
Anonymous said…
12:36 said:

What do you do and why the big secret? I am not going to archive your posts to Nancy Drew for whom and what you've campaigned. I'm talking about the official state job that provides your wife and 19 kids' health insurance

Work is noble. Don't be so cryptic. If you're a paid shill, can't you just say your some type of administrative consultant?, or with the office of blogging and policy oversight?
Anonymous said…
I found the following article at the Northern Valley Beacon. I thought it was pretty good.

"News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota

Sunday, January 21, 2007
They've hauled out the ropes, but do they know how to tie a noose?
We have not blogged much of late. Time is a factor. But so is what has become the defining nature of blogs. It is not something we wish to be identified with.

Our good colleague Silas has said that blogging often devolves into the electronic version of graffiti. In an essay he makes the point that the Internet and the forums it carries has not raised the level of human information and thought, but has worked inversely. What many bloggers think is witty repartee and incisive observation is the kind of mindless prattle and doltish banter that used to be confined to the corner tavern or the town cafe coffee klatches. Rather than show the human genius for benevolence and innate intelligence, the Internet has displayed the human propensity for scurrility and infinite stupidity.

The Dan Sutton affair in the state senate is a case in point. Instead of anxiously awaiting to see if the senate can martial a fair and purposeful process, the bloggers rise up in raging presumption and accusation and call for him to commit virtual suicide. They claim that his attempts to defend himself will put the senate and the people involved through agony.

Examples of the sterling and inspiring thought and rhetoric can be found on the South Dakota War College. While a few voices say that no charges have been filed against Sutton or findings revealed, the majority clamors for his demise.

This is the lynch mob mentality.

As with what seems to be most of the people in the state, we have waited until some information that bears the stamp of integrity is made public on the business. The press has shown appropriate restraint for the most part. We have no idea of what the actual facts of the incident are, but the malevolent throngs that crowd the blogosphere claim to be speaking for the sanctity of the 18-year-old pudendum, not the principle of due process which would be the focus of anyone who gives a shit about truth and fairplay.

As a parliamentarian, I was certain that the challenge to the state senate's investigation would be dismissed by the courts. A basic principle of parliamentary law is that a body has the right to investigate and discipline its members when charges against them are made and to take action on any proven matters of conduct that interfere with the function of the body. I have participated in the investigation and, in some cases, the removal of members of deliberative bodies when they brought discredit to the body and obstructed the conduct of business. Numerous court cases throughout the nation have affirmed the rights and obligation of deliberative bodies to deal with their members in the course of their related duties.

However, the South Dakota legislature had no process established for dealing with such matters, so there was legitimate cause for challenging the senate's authority on Dan Sutton's part. Deliberative bodies have the established right to handle charges of misconduct, but they also have the responsibility to establish provisions to insure that the hearings and decisions will be impartial and confined to examining the facts, not indulging in political pissing duels for power. So, the South Dakota Senate has the right and authority to deal with the allegations regarding Dan Sutton, but as an officially elected government body, it also has the obligation to insure that the handling of evidence and testimony is absolutely fair and honest, and that the proceedings are absolutely open to public examination.

That point of openness is the basis for the notice by Dan Sutton and his attorneys that the matter could get mean, nasty, and damaging to all involved.

I know both Dan Sutton and Dennis Wiese, the father of the young man who claims he was groped. They have both been strong leaders for their communities and their constituencies. I am also familiar with what seems to have turned political allies and friends into hostiles. As the story plays out, when young Wiese applied to be a senate page, arrangements were made with the friend and neighbor senator for lodging. While it turns out to have been a bad arrangement, it is not the only question behind the allegations.

When Dennis Wiese was president of the Farmers Union, the headquarters town of Huron had taken a huge economic blow when Smithfield Foods closed a packing plant there and threw 850 people out of work. (The South Dakota Democratic Party and its U.S. Senatorial delegation at the time led the fund and food raising effort to help the families involved.) When Hutterite turkey raisers and other business people decided to launch a turkey processing plant in eastern South Dakota, they ended up choosing Huron for the platn. The Farmers Union was among the organizations to see an opportunity for a beef packing plant to reopen. Plans were made with Ridgefield Farms to put in a small packing plant that could share the infrastructure for water and waste disposal with the turkey plant.

For reasons never fully divulged, some local investors who were working with Ridgefield became dissatisfied and withdrew their support. At this point, with the help of Wiese the planned Ridgefield operation was moved from Huron to Flandreau, the hometown of Wiese and Sutton. They were both involved in the development and raising of financing for the beef plant. But the Ridgefield scheme hit some obstacles and late last summer it was abandoned. The town of Flaudreau and its development organization headed by Dan Sutton had contributed $850,000 to the help Ridgefield relocate from Huron and start working on the plant in Flandreau. When the scheme collapsed, the money went with it. All that was left was some bitter feelings in the town.

Anyone who has covered business knows that some of the bitterest enmities in the world exist between people who have been caught up in bad business deals. This is a huge factor that the South Dakota Senate has to deal with in the Sutton case. An alleged grope that took nine months to register on the complainants in the case is not just a matter of an alleged encounter in a shared motel room. It may well have some seething motives propelling it into the major incident it has become.

The blogs play a huge role in the gossip, accusation, and prejudicial statements made in the case. The commenters on the above-mentioned blog have already convicted, hung, and insured that, whatever the outcome of the senate hearings, Dan Sutton is branded as an offender. These are people who see politics as the occasion for malevolence and destruction. They do not trust the democratic principles of due process and fair play. They are only interested in inflicting damage in behalf of their political creed.

This whole business was mishandled by the officers of the South Dakota Senate to begin with. Instead of setting up a process of careful and impartial investigation and deliberative hearing, the officers, led by former leader Schoenbeck, made threats and stoked up the fires of accusation and prejudgment that some bloggers love so much.

The question now is whether the South Dakota Senate can throw off the mantle of petty, but nevertheless vicious, politics and conduct its business with competence and integrity. If it can, it will do something it has not been able to do in, at least, the last quarter century or so.

But I have a hunch all those lynch-minded bloggers out there are hunting up their old Boy Scount manuals to see if they have instructions for tying a noose.

This hanging may make Saddam Hussein's look like a pink tea party.

Posted by David Newquist at 8:24 PM"
Anonymous said…
Anon 9:01:

Was Dan Sutton a part of the Ridgefield Farms Board when talks were taking place to bring the plant to Flandreau?

BTW-excellent comments. I don't agree with all you had to say but did find your post thought-provoking and well-written. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
9:01 The Northern Valley Beacon was an excellent article.

The reason Ridgefield Farms left Huron is because the major investor in Huron at the time could not get an accurate up-to-date financial statement. And that major investor knows how to read financial statements. Since there was no accurate financial statement available, he decided to remove is money. If I would have had any money invested in Ridgefield Farms and found out that one investor was pulling out....I sure would have too.

Maybe Ridgefield was already in trouble when it left Huron. Evidently, a major investor felt it was.

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