News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's back!

Mascot of the Wart Collage:  all that is ugly all the time. 
The South Dakota Wart Collage is back with a full display of the deformed and ugly.  Ain't no way to make this sucker look good, so you might as well go with extreme ugly.  

The significant aspect of its reappearance under open authorship of the Powers that be, and probably always were, is that it reaffirms the role of the blog as the official voice and spirit of the Republican Party in South Dakota.  While Pat Powers has officially resigned from his job in the Secretary of State's office,  he is still working the office for any tidbits he can contrive into defamatory falsehoods with which he kept the blogidiotocracy supplied in the past, whether openly or as an inside undercover operative through pseudonymous persona and other party stooges. 

When Powers deleted all of his blog archives upon taking his job with the Secretary of State's office, most people who monitor the political scene assumed that getting rid of old blog posts, many of which contained false defamation against people who inspire malice in Powers, was a condition of employment.  The Secretary of State's office could be harmed by being associated with someone who posted with fully intended malice.    Prior to deleting the posts altogether, he often deleted individual posts or made revisions to eliminate portions that ventured into dangerous allegations. 

However, erasing the blogging record did not eliminate the record of offenses, the distrust, and the disgust it had built over the years.   When Jason Gant took over the Secretary of State's office, there was a mass change of personnel.  Old, trusted, and respected workers quit or were forced out. The trust and respect that they had earned over the years was replaced by the distrust and resentment that Powers brought with him into the office. 

That distrust and wariness regarding partisan schemes and ploys became most apparent when blogs, such as South DaCola, noted that Powers seemed to using the office to promote some of his partisan schemes.  Protests and investigations resulted, and Powers resigned.  The Attorney General said there was no evidence that warranted criminal prosecution, but the Secretary of State's office, both from the schemes of Powers and Gant's own performance, has been tarnished to the point that raises the question of whether it should any longer be the office that supervises elections for the state.  

There is some sense of relief that Powers is no longer in charge of operations, but that doesn't mean that his connections and access to the office as a political operative have ended.  Prior to his vaporizing his blog archives, the Wart Collage was coordinated with the state GOP party office and the attacks and allegations against anything Democratic were given the Wart Collage treatment simultaneously with their issuance as press releases.  It was apparent that the party headquarters and Powers were working in full complicity.  This was a working pattern with which the party was familiar.  As a candidate,  John Thune's campaign paid Jon Lauck, then a history professor at SDSU, for blogging defamations against Sen. Tom Daschle.  The GOP widely claimed that the blog was a big factor in defeating Daschle, and the party was hoping that the Wart Collage could carry on in that tradition for the state GOP. 

Now that Powers is back in full charge of the Wart Collage, he appears to be resuming his practice of malicious fabrication full throttle.  And that he will be using his connections and access to the Secretary of State's office to accomplish those ends.

In his latest foray into misrepresenting facts and maligning the Democrats,  Powers uses two filings that the Democratic Party made to the SOS office.  He cites two letters that inform the SOS of when the party's state convention is to be held for 2012.  The first letter states the convention will be held in June, the second that it will be held in July.  The one in June was held at the Ramkota Convention Center in Aberdeen; the one in July was held at the party headquarters in Sioux Falls.  Powers contends that the June convention was a "fake" to fool the party constituents into thinking that they were participating in a democratic process while the real decisions were made at the July meeting.

The most important aspect of the convention report filings is that official candidates for statewide and national offices are fomally endorsed by the party.  Reports for both convention dates list the same candidates.  The reason that two dates were established was because of a concern about recruiting and obtaining candidates.

The procedure was covered by reporter David Montgomery at the time the letters listing convention dates were filed and in a follow-up blog following the Wart Collage post.  Montgomery asks, "Was this maneuver by Nesselhuf good strategy, or deceitful manipulation of the democratic process?"

 It is difficult to find any hint of deceit in all this, except in Powers' attempt to turn it into an act of deception.  It has more to do with trying to satisfy the stipulations of the state party constitution, the Roberts Rules of Order (which the party adheres to in its parliamentary proceedings), and the requirements of filings with the SOS.  

What the two listings do, in effect, is indicate that the June convention was adjourned to the July meeting date.  As the June meeting approached, the party was in the process of recruiting and confirming candidates for the state Public Utilities Commission.  There was some concern that a roster of candidates was tentative and could not be confirmed by the committee-as-whole session of the delegates at their June meeting. If candidates had not given full consent by the June meeting, the party had 30 days after to make final its official list of candidates.  Ben Nesselhuf indicated to David Montgomery that the July meeting of delegates would be held by teleconference, if it was necessary.

As it turned out, the convention business concerning candidates was finished at the June meeting so the the adjournment to July was not needed.  The report for the July meeting merely confirmed what had occurred at the June meeting of all delegates.

I suppose there might be other ways to handle these kinds of contingencies, such as the delegates authorizing the executive committee to make the final confirmations of candidates within the time required.  However, it is preferable that the final list of candidates be made by vote of the convention and not by delegation of authority.

But the Wart Collage is back.  And that means that South Dakota politics is returning to its usual dreary business.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States