‘The Antidote’ sums up Gant-Gate perfectly

Political Appointee PAT POWERS RESIGNS

Former fringe blogger Pat Powers, who was hired by Secretary of State Jason Gant to be the office’s Director of Operations has resigned amid a scandal that saw him conducting political business on the side while ostensibly remaining politically neutral in his $65,000 taxpayer funded day job in Pierre.

The resignation comes on the heels of a request by Republican state Sen. Stan Adelstein of Rapid City that Attorney General Marty Jackley investigate Powers’ outside political business interests for conflicts with his duties in the Secretary of State’s office. Adelstein feared that Gant and Powers were politicizing this most apolitical office which legally must be politically neutral in that its main function is to oversee elections in South Dakota in a nonpartisan fashion.

Powers often personal and vindictive postings on his blog, South Dakota War College, were legendary in their vitriol and too often questionable in their accuracy.

It should come as no surprise that Powers would be accused of politicizing the Office of Secretary of State. Gant himself has regularly been questioned for his politicizing the office literally from the day of his election to it in November 2010. Since then, Gant has come under fire for not only hiring the politically radioactive Powers, but for continuing to maintain a Political Action Committee after his election to the SOS’s office whose Statement of Purpose and Goals as filed by Gant reads, “To elect Republican candidates.”

Further, we at The Antidote believed that Gant was violating federal law earlier this year when he refused to spend federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds to provide equal days of early voting for Native Americans on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation compared to the number of early voting days in “white” counties. Congress in 2002 passed the Help America Vote Act precisely to provide money to states to eliminate problems such as the early voting funding issues which were occurring on Pine Ridge. Yet Gant did nothing until a federal judge forced him to provide an equal number of early voting days to the Pine Ridge.

Finally, we believe Gant violated state law when he employed a double standard in that he was denying Democratic candidates for office ballot access for petition violations while he ignored the same petition violations for Republican candidates for office.

At the time Secretary-elect Gant appointed Powers, we at The Antidote warned, “Powers had been the acerbic, biased, inflammatory voice of the blog, South Dakota War College – perhaps the most petty, biased, and least prone to facts and truth of any blog in South Dakota…to move this ideologue into the Secretary of State’s office is a very dangerous move indeed.”

Then, two weeks ago in our June 26th edition, “One Party Government Run Amok” we wrote, “The overwhelming body of evidence of Gant’s politicization of the office of Secretary of State has become an embarrassment to our great State. His actions have more than tainted his office and his reputation. His growing number of questionable actions and decisions has put the state in a myriad of legal and costly quagmires. We agree with Senator Adelstein that it is time for Gant’s staff to be investigated and indeed believe it is past time for Pat Powers to be removed from the Secretary of State’s staff. We would, however, expand that investigation to include Gant himself. The long history of a nonpartisan office of the Secretary of State in South Dakota is too sacred to allow Gant’s questionable actions and decisions to continue.”

We weren’t alone in that thought. Following Powers’ resignation last Friday, JC Murphy wrote on a Rapid City Journal blog, “Gant has been playing fast and loose with the rules in his office from Day One. The Secretary of State’s office must be run tight, fair and with integrity. New stories come up almost daily and his vague, ‘everything is just fine’ responses do not suffice. Every board that he reports to, every legislator with oversight responsibility, and each and every citizen should be alarmed. The Attorney General must complete a thorough and consequential evaluation of the operations of this sensitive office. The GOP ‘leadership ladder’ is quick to circle the wagons, protect their own, and hope that the public won’t find out or won’t care. The GOP AG investigating the GOP SOS about favoritism for the presumed GOP Speaker of the House…all ultimately reporting to judges appointed by a GOP governor. If the public doesn’t step in and bring new leadership to Pierre, I guess it’s true: we get the (corrupt) government we deserve (elect).”

In another blog post on the Journal’s Mount Blogmore, former Republican state legislator Don Frankenfeld said of Gant,

“He strikes me as a political thug, and not a very smart one either. Guys like this belong in Boston maybe, or Chicago. In South Dakota we are entitled to hold our elected officials to a higher standard. Gant should resign. Barring that, he should be impeached.”

JC Murphy could not be more correct. Pat Powers’ resignation, albeit under fire, is at least a step in the right direction and Don Frankenfeld’s description of Gant appears to have hit the bulls’ eye.




#1 larry kurtz on 07.11.12 at 7:30 am

The Governor’s Club is the funding source for earth hater’s party in South Dakota: it contains evidence that SDGOP clearly colluded with Gant and Powers to engineer a red map strategy.

If AG Jacklow doesn’t investigate, the US Dept. of Justice should sweep the entire political apparatus in the state and not just the minor players.

#2 l3wis on 07.11.12 at 8:05 am

Larry, I have been trying to keep an ‘open mind’ about the AG’s investigation, but plan ‘B’ may have to be explored.

#3 Senator Stan Adelstein on 07.11.12 at 10:47 am

@Larry and for those others that have been doubting my assurances of action by the Attorney General. Those that ignored my comments about his being a second generation of attorneys that value law and truth more that political advantage – I have some specific follow up.

Monday afternoon the Director of the DCI spent an hour in my office reviewing what I know, and what I do not. (there is more of the latter than the former) This was the director, not a freshman investigator doing what is needed for show. We discussed the scope of the investigation, and it is thorough and REAL.

Stan A

#4 l3wis on 07.11.12 at 1:26 pm

Stan, thanks for the update. Like I said, I am keeping an open mind. I know of certain people that want to see Pat and Jason buried. I don’t think that is the appropriate way to go. Investigate, and if wrong doing is found, then move forward with the proper reprimand.

#5 Guest Poster on 07.12.12 at 9:45 am

The SOS office problem is not just Jason or PP. It is the ALEC inspired legislation and attitudes designed to stop people from their ability to exercise their RIGHT to vote. Gant and PP told us prior to the election in 2010 of their singular mission to limit access to the voting booth.

With PP ‘out’ of the SOS office and his propensity to play with software code, is anyone looking in to all the systems code for access backdoors. Many good (and bad) programmers put into place, abilities to break into their computer software in case the normal route in is broken. These backdoors allow the programmer to stop processes before their code causes destruction of data. When an employee or programmer ‘leaves’ a project, the backdoors are forgotten or overlooked. Disgruntled employees have logged into these backdoors and have been malicious. These backdoors have allowed former employees to gain access to supposedly secure data for their own data mining needs.

I wish I did not have to ask these types of questions. I have had to clean up many messes of this sort for companies. My job is to ‘nicely’ mistrust everyone.

My passion is the integrity of the election process and Gant, PP, ALEC and the general state of the Citizen’s United world we are now functioning leaves me little choice but to politely mistrust motives.

I’m just asking, I just do not trust PP.

#6 l3wis on 07.12.12 at 12:13 pm

“My job is to ‘nicely’ mistrust everyone.”

That is my mission as a blogger also. Always question authority, be a cynic, and don’t be afraid to turn over a rock or two.

#7 Stan Adelstein on 07.12.12 at 5:39 pm

@Guest Poster

Do you have any recorded information on your statement”Gant and PP told us prior to the election in 2010 of their singular mission to limit access to the voting booth.?”

Who is the “us” in that statement, please?

If no violations of law are found – and I have no certainty that they will or that they will not – then may be helpful in asking for Gant’s resignation when we all get to the session in January.

This does seem to tie in with some allegations regarding voting on reservations, concerning his “management” or “nonmanagement” of the election process.

Sen Stan Adelstein

#8 Guest Poster on 07.12.12 at 6:57 pm

Senator, in the appearances and advertisements during 2010 the statements were stated and implied. I have fought this battle for 40 years with few people understanding the coded language the likes of Gant and PP were using.

The use of terms ‘voter’ versus ‘election’ fraud. There is almost no voter found or recorded. What we have is documented election fraud and voter suppression. What ALEC and other organizations have done is shape the public’s perception to accept their version of voting problems.

These organizations teach political operatives how to restrict voting. The Koch Brother’s father was an early member and funder of the John Birch Society, an organization existing to limit people’s rights.

Pat’s DWC efforts were part of the messaging system. I can and will assist you in this effort if you desire.


#9 Stan Adelstein on 07.13.12 at 4:04 pm

yes, please. I am interested in the “stated” mentions, cannot do much with implied.

To the extent that I, as a Senator, can submit legislation to prevent the “suppression,” I need all the help that I can get.

Do not get me wrong, I know “implied” is powerful, but that is only clear to injured party. Powers’ anti-antisemitism, and it’s use against me in local campaigns was loud and clear — to me!

Stan A

#10 Testor15 on 07.13.12 at 6:03 pm

Senator, I have sent you an email, please feel free to contact me.

#11 SOS Gant gets another FREE pass — South DaCola on 01.28.13 at 1:37 pm

[…] So the ethics of the voting public should be legislated (abortion) but the ethics of state employees, specifically SOS employees should not legislated? Beisdes, I don’t think this is about ethics, it’s about doing the right thing. The person in charge of safe and fair elections should NOT be endorsing candidates, and his employees certainly should not be selling candidates campaign materials. […]