Gosch-Gant Gaggle: The Most Sad and Pathetic Aspect

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

According to the Rapid City Journal, Stephanie Strong, who sued the South Dakota Secretary of State to get our state government to uphold the law impartially, doesn’t have the money to pay the tens of thousands of dollars our court system has ordered her to pay for her impudence in insisting that the law be upheld.

“I don’t have any money. I don’t have any property. I have nothing,” Stephanie Strong said in an interview. “They know there was a crime and they went along with it.”

I don’t know the Strongs well at all. My most significant interaction with Stephanie has been at a luncheon we both attended where she gave me a copy of the Federalist Papers in modern language; she was innocently happy as a clam to be spreading knowledge about our nation’s highest law, the U.S Constitution. (That’s the kind of thing that makes patriots happy.)

But what I do know of the Strongs seems to indicate that unlike well-to-do in-crowd establishment lawyers, they are like most South Dakotans and don’t have a spare $35,881.60 lying around.  Probably not even a spare $1000 lying around.

But that kind of thing doesn’t bother well-connected establishment types. Not when there’s a cold political message (“Don’t mess with us”) they are determined to send to the “little people” who believe in things like the rule of law and Republican values.

There are so many sad and pathetic aspects to this entire saga, I have a hard time determining which is the most sad and pathetic

– That a “Republican” legislative leader and lawyer would notarize his own petitions when the law (and previous determinations by the Secretary of State) indicates this is not allowed

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– That a “Republican” Secretary of State would commit a brazen act of partisan favoritism (allowing an establishment “Republican” to get away with violations that he did not allow other non-favored candidates to do), making our election system resemble what is best known in Third World banana republics

– That this same “Republican” Secretary of State would break with tradition if not law and endorse an establishment “Republican” candidate in that same primary, trampling the perception of impartiality that the Secretary of State’s office (the office which administers elections in our state) had cultivated for years

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– That a citizen would have to resort to a lawsuit to try to force the government to obey the law

– That a “Republican” Secretary of State would then refuse to defend the legality of his own decision

– That a “Republican” leader would interject himself into the citizen’s lawsuit, directed at the Secretary of State and not at him, which sought to force the government to obey the law and argue that a partisan double-standard in defiance of the law should be upheld

– That our “judicial” system would turn a blind eye to blatant partisan lawlessness on the part of a key elected official

– That the “Republican” supermajority South Dakota Legislature would go on to pass a law clarifying that “The verification by the person circulating the petition may not be notarized by the candidate whom the petition is nominating” while the party establishment continued to defend the act committed by one of their own, which was the subject of a lawsuit to force the Secretary of State to uphold the existing law

– That a “Republican” leader who unlawfully notarized his own petitions and then voluntarily interjected himself into a lawsuit seeking to have the law impartially upheld,  would demand tens of thousands of dollars from a citizen who sought, because the government refused to do the right thing or to hold itself accountable to do the right thing, to have the law upheld impartially

– That our “judicial system” would seek to punish the citizen who sought to have the law obeyed by our government by forcing that citizen to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees for a “Republican” leader who voluntarily interjected himself into the lawsuit with the intention of arguing that partisan double-standards are okay

– That the “Republican” Party establishment seems intent on punishing and silencing anyone in its ranks who insists that the law and the GOP platform be adhered to by people who call themselves “Republicans”

– That the “Republican” establishment seems determined to send a crystal-clear message to average citizens: “We are connected. We control the reins of power. If you don’t have lots of money or connections, stay out of the process. Don’t mess with the big boys. The law is what we say it is. And if you think certain outdated notions put you on a level with us, we’ll break you and show you the error of your ways.”

– That certain “Republicans” enjoy piling on in glee that a citizen is being punished for asking that the law be upheld impartially

– That few people seem to care that a citizen is being punished by the “Republican” establishment and our “judicial” system for asking that the law be impartially upheld

Frankly, I’m having a hard time deciding which aspect of this is the most sad and pathetic. Take your pick.


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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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