Today's the day.

Yesterday afternoon was reserved for closing arguments. But today is for decisions.

Expulsion, censure or nothing. One of those will come out of it.

What's not in dispute? Senator Sutton and Austin Wiese shared a bed. And something happened that caused a question. What that something was is in dispute.

Does the offense rise to the level of ejecting a member. Or should it be a slap on the wrist?

Or nothing at all?

Comments

Anonymous said…
Butler and Duffy by far had the best closing argument; and they have a unique talent of portraying their thoughts.

As Duffy put it...in referencing our current U.S. Senate President Pro Tempore, Roberty Byrd, "Only two Country's in the World have a Senate, Rome and the U.S." The Senate is a very special body.
Anonymous said…
Seriously, think back to when you were 18 ... if you were a guy, in a bed with another guy, and that other guy touched your unit, WHY ON EARTH would you stay, let alone come back the next night??? It's just preposterous.

The minute he touched me, I'm out. I'll walk to a gas station, sleep in an ATM booth, call a friend to come pick me up, anything other than continue to sleep with the guy. I don't know any reasonable person who would stay. Let alone stay for a second night.

There's no doubt in my mind this is about politics, and nothing more.
Anonymous said…
Butler seems okay, but Duffy looks and acts like a thug. I would almost rule against anyone who has him as their attorney. The Lawyers kept bringing up the allegations were brought up after the "lawsuit." That is not true, he was accused of groping before any lawsuit.

The attorneys time line is off. In the case of a criminal when the time line is off that is subject to examine more closely.
nonnie said…
I happen to think that McMahon had the best closing argument, and he did it in a professional manner, unlike Duffy.

I don't think we will ever know what exactly happened. But evidently something did because I can't see a bunch of young people trying to hold together a concocted story through all the interviews and testimoney they have been subjected to.

Whether we all know what really happened is immaterial. The fact is that after all these life changing events for all concerned, they themselves will have to live with the consequences and knowing whether they told the truth or not. I would hate to have to live with knowing I'd lied to such an extent.
Anonymous said…
This is about a bunch of semi-spoiled kids who think they are smarter than the "adults" around them. That said, I don't doubt that Sen. Sutton had intentions w/Austin W. but obviously the last anon is correct, there are enough problems w/the story you can't get rid of Sutton unless sharing the bed is enough to do it...and if that's the case, why did we go through this? No one disputed the one bed part of the story...

Although now we know in a Senate investigation twice and three times removed hearsay (if there is such a thing as well as dream testimony) is allowed. What a circus and all should be ashamed including the panel that they sat through such a farce.
Anonymous said…
The only thing that is clear is that Pat Duffy looked like a lunatic and that Chuck Baldwin's blogging for the Argus was moronic. They both have a rare talent for making all problems the fault of Republicans when this is a Democratic scandal.
Anonymous said…
The timeline of the "defense" was correct. The allegations were out there in Feb., Wiese called Schoenbeck w/in a week of the lawsuit...I just wish Schoenbeck would have been involved somehow.
Anonymous said…
Anon is right about Baldwin. He sat in back all self-righteous with his pony-tail casting judgment on everyone---what a jerk
Anonymous said…
7:46: Semi-spoiled kids? How do you figure?
Anonymous said…
Duffy “Please consider where we are and what we have done. We now have a precedent for a standing committee that is now loose in the bowels of the Senate. … ”

I think this simple phrase probably hit the Senators the hardest. If any of you have spent time in Pierre you have heard stories related to 50% or more of the Senate and some of the committee members that would be cause for a disciplinary hearing.
Brad S said…
Frankly, in this day and age of Dateline NBC tracking down child pornography addicts and molesters (even going so far as forcing one to commit suicide), just the mere fact of an adult male sharing a bed with a minor should raise everyone's red flags.

Look, when you're in a no-win position, do the right thing: Expel Dan Sutton. Teach the politically ambitious a lesson that should not be forgotten.
Anonymous said…
Brad S

Austin was 18 at the time of the "alleged" groping. As far as I knew, once you turned 18 you were no longer considered a minor. Don't get me wrong, I am not condoning this type of behaviour in any setting, politically or otherwise. If sharing a bed with someone other than a spouse is grounds for expulsion from the senate, I'm afraid many senators would be watching the procedings from the galley.
hambone said…
Baldwin's coverage blew everyone else out of the water, in timliness and detail. The argus bashers are too blinded by their hate and rage to recognize anything done well.

PP, as much play as you've given this thing leading up to the hearing, I was surprised you had such little coverage.
Anonymous said…
What is truly most scary about this entire matter is the threat it poses to our democratic form of government. If Sutton were to be expelled, an election would be effectively overturned by nothing more than an uncorroborated accusation. This is, after all, a he said - he said matter. If a simple accusation can overturn an election, God help us all! Why the Sentate would ever want to set that precedent is beyond me. It is all the more frightening when the people in Sutton's district knew of the allegation and reelected him anyway. It is even yet more frightening that, if expelled, Rounds would most likely appoint a republican to fill the seat.

Just think of that: an uncorroborated accusation overturns an election, and results in the seat changing party hands. That should scare all of us to death, regardless of political party affiliation.
Anonymous said…
One thing that will come of this hearing for sure will be that no male will EVER share a bed w/ Sen. Sutton again.

I think that's enough to make everyone involved in this mess relieved, no matter what the Senate committee decides.
Anonymous said…
If austin is lying, I think i'll hire him as a movie producer or something. If he could have planned everything out in detail, such as we heard, then that's amazing. Phone records, computer hardrive in the hotel, recorded call, talking with DCI the second day, telling the witness everything they need to talk about or lie about, etc, etc, etc.

That would take a year of planning. And that wouldn't match up.

Think about the facts people...just like McMahon said. It all adds up.

As to the actual 'thing' that happend, that we will never know, but as far as everything besides that, it was all laid out in details before you.

If your strickly on the wiese or sutton side - don't talk. But if you're in the middle - think long and hard.
Anonymous said…
8:43 you are right. I at first had Danny guilty, then after listening to his slick attorneys, I think he might be not guilty.

But like you said, add up all the stories. I was approached by a male when I was 18, he never touched me, but I have never told my parents to this day 25 years later.

I just hope the liar gets what he deserves, whoever that is.
Douglas said…
I would think Senators would be cursing the day that they ever heard the names Lee Schoenbeck and Gary Moore.

The Republicans in Congress thought they had the world by the tail when they started their campaign to impeach Bill Clinton for sexually-challenged ethics. Had Larry Flynt a few more months to dig around and more of the window-peepers would have found themselves hoisted on their own petards*

There are no winners in this. A general said that Bush was sending troops to Iraq on a "fools errand".

Schoenbeck and Moore sent the SD Senate on a "fools errand".
Anonymous said…
For the last three days, Sutton has not needed to tape Days of Our Lives as he's had a lead role in his own soap.

Our little scandal on the prairie has been a mess from the onset. Sutton certainly didn't leave the hearing entirely with "clean hands". His actions and statements following the allegation didn't exactly shout I'm innocent: I'm sorry; Did I touch you; If you say I did it, it must be true; Do you want me to get evaluated? (all paraphrased).

For any cynics on the committee, Sutton playing up his catholicism and wanting to go see a priest could cut to the negative.

For a detached observer like myself, Sutton's testimony was remotely plausible, but not likely. And his continued use of "Mr. MacMahon" stood out like a nervous tick.

Equally stinky is Dennis Weise. The timing of his letter to Schoenbeck is a little curious. Months after the alleged fact, it seemed like Weise was both seeking accountability and to derail Sutton's election. D. Weise's decision stifle the matter for months with his own political ambition makes him look as crooked as his own teeth. Yes, I know it was reported right away to Barney Fife of the DCI. After that Weise dines with Sutton, seeks his endorsement (and presumably a contibution), then gives his own endorsement. On the other hand this mess was not his doing, and he couldn't rightly have this hometown and democratic scandal simmering during a campaign. How was he supposed to play it? He should have put a little distance between himself and Sutton, but he couldn't because he needed him politically and that is what stinks.

What are left with? Sutton slept in the same bed with 18 year old page - no question. Some contact occurred between the two during the course of the evening - most likely. This contact was intentional hand-to-man as described by Austin - perhaps, yet inconclusive. The Senate should censure or discipline Sutton for sharing a bed with a page. This can be described as "inappropriate contact" or conduct "unbecoming the office". This also can be done without making a specific finding on the direct hand-to-man contact alleged by Austin.

Keep expulsion off the table bc Dist. 8 elected him despite the allegation, and attempted expulsion will require the SDSC to revisit the matter to rule on the Senate's authority to expel. Lastly some advice to Dan: don't let the neighborhood kids surf gay porn on your computor.

And so, as the sands in the hourglass...
Anonymous said…
I wonder: who has the burden of proof in this case? Is Sutton innocent until proven guilty? Guilty until proven innocent? Something in-between?

It seems to me that both sides have some pretty serious credibility issues.

Wiese and co. act more like a family motivated by political whims than the family of a victim of sexual assault. People are getting the criminal investiation (began in Feb 06) confused with the Senate investigation (which was without question begun when Wiese contacted Schoenbeck about this issue, most likely only a day or so after he received the suit filed against him by Sutton). They've proven nothing criminally and we're sitting here blogging about this because of those allegations brought to Schoenbeck. Whatever the true story, I have no doubt Dennis Wiese brought this forward as a result of the lawsuit.

Sutton acts more like someone guilty of sexual assault and struggling with sexual identity issues ("I'll talk to the priest") than a totally innocent victim of a conspiracy.

One thing the defense illustrated pretty clearly that hasn't really been noted is that it is unclear whether or not Austin's allegation was originally that Sutton touched his genitals. The witnesses he talked to at first don't recall him saying that, and the DCI transcripts don't indicate that being said.

With the mess this investigation became, I don't see any way the committee could do anything but censure him. There is too much information of wrongdoing not to censure him and there is too much doubt to expel him.
Disgusted in District 8 said…
As a resident of District 8, I’m getting a little tired of Sutton and his supporters’ proud proclamation that he has so much support here because 57% of the voters cast their ballots in support of him.

What am I missing? 57% of the vote is a victory, but it’s not a landslide by any stretch of the imagination, especially for an incumbent!

And I’d also like to know where Sutton’s loyalty to District 8 was when he resigned last year, clearly in an attempt to avoid the senate hearings. Why would he abandon his constituents if he was innocent? And didn’t he ever think we were owed an explanation? Why not willingly testify, instead of being forced to in the end?

His supporters also frequently alluded to information that would come out, essentially bombshells that would make us all see the true character of the victim and clear Sutton’s name. Where were they in all this? The only bombshells I saw were a) a recorded phone conversation where Sutton so much as admitted to the crime; b) the revelation that someone, at some point, searched for gay porn on his SENATE-OWNED COMPUTER, and c) the fact that so many of his former friends – all considered to be credible people – would testify that they believed he was guilty.

Folks, if it walks like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s a duck.
Douglas said…
Perhaps admonishment rather than censure?

With Sustton as well as Clinton, no matter what is or is not significant about the sex issues involved, getting into the situation raises serious doubts about their ability to make rational decisions on other issues as well.

Finding a legislator, lawyer, minister, or even a newspaper man drunk raises the same kind of questions.
Anonymous said…
Where did he say Abdallah liked to water?
johannes said…
The inquisition has little to do with legialators conduct with pages or about pedophilia. Since there are no rules or guidelines for what legialators do with pages it probably isn't about that; since the 'victim' was 18 at the time (old enough to vote or be sent off to Iraq) it probably isn't about pedophilia. I would submit that the the inquisition is about two things. Gay sex and Power. In the past 100+ years of legislative history, there have been many rumors and allegations of sexual encounters between legislators, with staff, with ladies of dubious reputation and even with a governor. I have little doubt that there has been previous inappropriate conduct involving pages. However the alleged Sutton-Weise encounter was made public and it included the dreaded "gayness" factor. "Theys sum things we jist don't tolerate around here, yewd better be outa town before sundown." But the greatest factor was power. Everything that happens in the legislature, during the session or between sessions, is influenced by political power, i.e. who has it and who doesn't and how it is wielded. According to a couple senators, the timing of the $850K Ridgefield suit was an inappropriate power play by that twerp Dan Sutton (not a deserving power holder) and for that he needed to be punished. Just my 0.02 krone's worth.
Anonymous said…
So what are you saying Johannes? Using your authority and power to get your "jollies" off a younger, insubordinate is okay because it has happened in the past?

BARF! That attitude is repulsive.

I have a better question for you...

Supposing Austin was a girl, would it still be okay for Sutton to have slept in the same bed? Would you believe her allegations more than Austin's?

Put aside the sexism and live in the 21st century.
Anonymous said…
If there is no conclusive evidence against him I don't see how you can punish him at this point. There is no way they can kick him out.

Ultimately, this is a kid who is pointing his finger.

What is a lapse in judgement? YES

But I'm willing to bet Heidepriem, Knudson and Dempster don't have squeeky clean records either when it comes to their own judgement.

I will be very disappointed in that committee if they punish him at this point.

Has the kid filed charges to take this to court?

If not, this is completely a political move on the Wiese family's part and nothing more.
Anonymous said…
Dennis Wiese is a bad father - several people could easily come to such a conclusion. The endorsements and the dinners and the timing of the complaint to Schoenbeck point to that. But don't hold that against his son.

How could he have orchestrated this whole thing on the level he would have to orchestrate it to get this far? The kid is telling the truth. Apparently teenagers don't act like you might expect when groped - that would be a pretty shocking experience, especially when the contact is from someone you trust. I can buy the going back for another night because of the shock and disbelief much easier than I can buy the allegation that he concocted an elaborate story to frame Sutton.

I feel for Austin Wiese. It's time for the Senate to stand up for him and for all its employees.
Anonymous said…
I completely agree with "Disgusted in District 8" after viewing everything and reading everything that went on throughout the last few days I was mainly neutral. However - why in the world would the people against dan, people that were said to all be in his wedding, be around him constantly and the victim, mr. wiese was also stated directly from sutton's mouth that he loved him like a son. Wow! so basically we have a conspiracy against dan all involving his closest friends and someone in his mind that was a son to him...that is crazy. Oh, and let me ask you this - who was on dan's side??? anyone that was in his wedding? anyone that was loved like a son? where did these people even come from, they knew Dan Sutton, big deal - what makes them so credible??? and what makes their testimony so much more relivant that the words that come out of his own "sons" mouth and people that he would not only invite to something as a wedding but ask them to take part in and be part of, two of the people even had keys to his house! I honestly can't believe that people that close to someone like dan sutton would all conspire to publicly humilate themselves just to ruin dan's political career, but hey i'm not an attourney...so what do i know
Anonymous said…
Restore integrity to the Senate and expel Sutton.
mom said…
Anywhere in South Dakota we would fire the teacher--and there wouldn't be another teaching job available in the state--if a teacher had slept in the same bed with a student on a trip---even if they were family friends.

No one would have to bring criminal charges, no one would have to prove that ANYTHING happened.

The whole inquest is silly!

He exercised poor judgement and admits that he slept in the same bed with a subordinate, that is enough--he should be expelled!
Anonymous said…
If any of the members of the committee are reading this, please expel Sutton.
Anonymous said…
The problem with this is, if you believe Austin Wiese, then how do you view Dan Sutton's testimony under oath that nothing happened and how does the Senate punish that (as opposed to the actual conduct)? At best he put an 18 year boy through an excrutiating experience merely to retain his Senate seat. If you don't know what happened, then perhaps something less than expulsion is warranted, but if you believe Austin Wiese, then there is no choice but to expel Sutton.
johannes said…
Quoting Anonymous: "So what are you saying Johannes? Using your authority and power to get your 'jollies' off a younger, insubordinate is okay because it has happened in the past?"
You missed the point. It wasn't OK then and it isn't now, but that's not why the legislature was holding committee hearings about it. The Senate's investigation of Sen. Sutton took place because former Senators Lee Schoenbeck and Gary Moore made a public fuss about it. Did they do this out of concern for the pages or Sen, Sutton's moral turpitude? I dont't think so. It only came up after the $850,000 lawsuit against Ridgefield Farms (in which Dennis Wiese was involved) filed by a Flandreau development board of which Dan Sutton was the chair. The real problem is that the rules of conduct in our esteemed legislature are currently looser than a goose with the Norwalk virus. And only now are they talking about tightening things up. We should be asking: Why weren't there any rules or guidelines for conduct with pages in place beforehand?
As for your sexism question. I'll answer with a question. What makes you so sure this hasn't happened to female pages?
What I am saying is this: The legislature needs to put their political power mania aside for a while, get their respective houses in order, and then get on with the business we elected them to do.
Anonymous said…
BUTLER AND DUFFY ARE FAKES>....i cant believe they asked brady olsen if he believed austin wiese in a 17 minute conversation.....When dan called butler did he believe dan in 17 minutes....NO, he believed him in 5 seconds because dan sutton is a good liar.....the senate needs and shoud kick him from his official duties for the fact that they need to set a precident for all senators...

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