Sunday, December 10, 2006

Scandal in South Dakota

Although most of the national attention has been focoused on the investigation sorrounding former Rep. Mark Foley's explicit emails to pages South Dakota has had its own page scandal. State Sen. Dan Sutton D-Flandreau is accused of sexaul misconduct with an 18 year old page during the 2006 legislative season.

Sutton resigned on Nov. 14, two weeks before a special session called by Republican Gov. Mike Rounds was set to begin to investigate Sutton's activites. Sutton won reelection over his Republican opponet and next-door neigbor John Toates who choose not to bring the issue up saying "I'm not running as much against Danny Sutton as I am for the position... We speak. It's not been a personal race.". According to Sutton's lawyer, Patrick Duffy, Sutton resinged because he did not want to be judged by his political enemies in a lame duck sesscion but plans to take his seat when the State Senate reconvens on Jna. 9. Duffy told the press"My client will be back in Pierre in 2007".

Although the South Dakota Senate did not go into special session and will not be able to begin its investigation into Sutton until Jan. 9 several steps have been taken by the General Assembly in response to the scandal. The legislature held a conference on ethics which was attended by about three quarters of the members, a written set of guidlines has been proposed, and legislative leaders want random checks on pages to help keep them safe. Although a flurry of reforms are sure to follow it is unfortunate that it takes a scandal to motivate change.

No comments: