Last week Greg Belfrage made this observation:
It's been sickening to watch the reactions of some to the controversy involving Rep. Mathew Wollmann of Madison.
Wollmann this week admitted that he had consensual sex with legislative interns in 2015 and 2016.
Yesterday I shared my concern that the legislature missed a golden opportunity last week to prohibit sexual contact between lawmakers, pages and interns.
Former representative Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown provides a sad glimpse into the twisted thinking that has kept lawmakers from doing the right thing.
Schoenbeck posted the following comment at Pat Powers' War College blog:Here’s an interesting question that needs to be put to senator Stace Nelson. When he served in the House, one of his friends, a House member, was aggressively chasing an intern, and there had to be about a 15 year age difference! It would be a much clearer case to complain about, if the conduct was of concern to Senator Nelson. Maybe he could explain why he didn’t raise it then, or since they now both serve in the same body, file a complaint with the senate.
This looks like it’s about Senator Nelson trying to smear a young man that he views as a political opponent.
PS A rule prohibiting legislators from having romantic with relationships with interns wouldn’t be a bad thing. It would stop that example of a 45+ year old legislator chasing a college girl, but there are two things to ponder. First, These days there are many young legislators who are in the peer group with interns – politically interested people in their 20s.
Second, given that you’re not going to install body cameras, is there actually going to be a rule drawing a line, that describes the good bad touch thing? I saw a legislator harmlessly with an intern in public Thursday at an event – is that type of social interaction (kind of like a low level date) going to be prohibited? Interaction with legislators was a great part of my intern experience, and most interns would echo that. It’s one of those deals where good judgment and wise counsel from leadership is probably the best fix. I recall Sen Bogue and I caboshing a senator wanting to have the page pizza party at the Ramkota pool with swimming by the whole group!
This is the kind of straw-man, circular thinking that makes me reach for a barf bag.
Senator Nelson's motives are absolutely irrelevant to the issue of whether lawmakers should be having sex with pages and interns.
At Madville today, Schoenbeck's allegation was brought up:
So who else is having sex with interns? I agree, Jana, if Lee Schoenbeck knows more he should tell up and who is Stace’s friend?
Stace Nelson responded with this:
Folks, let me be crystal clear. I categorically reject Lee Schoenbeck’s lies and innuendos. I shared a house with two legislators 2012-2013, Brock Greenfield & Lance Russell, with our family members staying there for weeks on end. Happy to provide a sworn affidavit to any body that wishes to review this matter officially explicitly declaring I have never observed, or heard of (till Schoenbek’s calumus accounts), of any member of the House having any type of inappropriate contact with any intern or page.
Since Lee Schoenbeck was a member of the House the last two years, how about he do the same thing and submit that document to the disciplinary hearing regarding his knowledge of the lies and misconduct of his protege.
Then comes Todd Epp with this:
According to documents obtained by The Greg Belfrage Show, legislative leaders likely knew in 2015--and certainly by 2016--that one of their own members was allegedly having or attempting to have sex with legislative interns.
The state House member serving at the time is unnamed in the exchange of emails among members and the Legislative Research Council. The member is called, however, a “sexual predator” by at least one legislator who reported conduct they witnessed or were told about from witnesses. The Greg Belfrage Show has not positively confirmed the identity of the accused legislator and the documents do not name the legislator except as noted below.
Prior to the submission of the Joint Rules change recommending an explicit prohibition of legislators having sexual contact with pages & interns, I was advised of widely known notorious misconduct of a sitting legislator’s inappropriate interactions with pages and interns. Such misconducted (sic) reputed to include sexual intercourse. I was not aware of any first hand information. Accordingly, I attempted to bring the rules change to diplomatically address and obvious unacceptable problem. . .
- 1.Yesterday (Jan. 11, 2017) afternoon a legislator reported House leadership (NFI) previously received a complaint about the suspect legislator having sexual contact with interns and pages. The legislator indicated form their personal observations that the suspect legislator was a “sexual predator.”
- 2. I was told by another legislator last night that they were aware that the suspect legislator had sexual relations with several specific past interns. I did not ask any qualifying questions. . .
My due diligence is satisfied on this matter. This is a matter under some of your obligation and responsibility.
--Jan. 12, 2017 email from Sen. Stace Nelson.
January 17, 2017, Nelson wrote an email to nearly all state legislators and Attorney General Marty Jackley noting what he had pieced together regarding complaints about the legislator. Nelson is a retired Naval Criminal Investigative Services agent. Nelson wrote:
First, I would like to personally acknowledge and express y utmost respect and admiration to Senator Brock Greenfield and Mr. Dusty Johnson. When Senator Greenfield became aware (a year+/- (sic) ago NFI) that a legislator was preying on pages and interns, he confirmed to House leadership that complaints they acknowledged they already received, were factual to what he was aware of. When Senator Greenfield and Mr (sic) Johnson consulted together about this problem, Mr. Johnson reportedly removed the offending legislator from having any official contact with the Teenage Republicans as a counselor. That, is leadership. Well done gentlemen.
--Jan. 17, 2017 email from Sen. Stace Nelson.
“NFI” means no further information (available). Teenage Republicans is TAR, a longstanding state Republican youth organization.
January 19, 2017, Nelson sent another email to legislative leaders, AG Jackley, and Jason Hancock, director of the LRC. Nelson wrote:
For the attention of the AG and for the record with House leadership, the following information is provided as written documentation of information already passed to several of you in person which I received from former interns who served in the House in 2015.
Two former interns reported the suspect legislator in fact knowingly gave alcoholic beverages to a known minor in 2015 on at least one occasion. One intern reported that he allegedly engaged in kissing and fondling of an intern, allegedly in front of at least one other, who was so intoxicated the intern opined the young intern may not have been sober enough to consent to the contact. To be clear, interns identified 2 interns he (the legislator) had consensual sexual intercourse with in 2015, another different one he groped while she was extremely intoxicated, and another one that he sexually harassed and outraged when he was caught trying to “get with” multiple pages. The interns indicated he was texting them constantly through out (sic) the day trying to “get with” the female interns.
Several House leadership members confirmed that written complaints were received by House leadership members, last year, allegedly alluding to the sexual contact with interns and pages , (sic) and when the one intern was extremely intoxicated. . .
This is provided to the AG as suspected matters under his primary jurisdiction and it compliance with my understanding of my obligations under the Joint Rules and any potential SDCL statutes.
--Jan. 19, 2017 email from Sen. Stace Nelson.
As of late Tuesday morning, the House Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion was still scheduled to meet today (Tuesday) at 3 p.m. The LRC also sent a letter to former interns who served in 2015 or 2016, asking them to testify.
In a system of cronyism, certain people are allowed to have their fun. Those who do not go along with the establishment have every little pimple on their butt exposed for the world to see. Expect more establishment attacks on Stace Nelson, because that is how the system of corruption works in Pierre. It is not a good place to mentor young people, unless they are shielded from the games that are running in the background.