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South Dakota Secretary of State employee resigns after investigation

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July 14, 2012

South Dakota

By Jennifer Springer

PIERRE, South Dakota: Nearly a month after State Senator Stan Adelstein (R) called for an investigation of the South Dakota Secretary of State's office, an employee central in the investigation has resigned.[1] According to allegations, Pat Powers, an employee with the Secretary of State's office, had been running an online business selling campaign materials, such as yard signs, bumper stickers, political printing, and other campaign supplies.[1][2] State Senator Adelstein argued that the business was inappropriate because the Secretary of State's office supervises elections.[1]

Early last month Adelstein asked Attorney General Marty Jackley to look into the online business Dakota Campaign Store, which has since been shut down.[1]. The store's website was taken down in early June, but its Google listing said it provided political printing, yard signs, bumper stickers and other campaign supplies.[1]

Secretary of State Gant announced in an emailed statement on July 6, 2012 that Powers left the Secretary of State's office "to spend more time with his children and pursue business opportunities in the private sector."[1]

According to a July 6, 2012 article in The Republic, Adelstein allegedly asked the Attorney General last month whether impeachment or removal from office would be warranted if an investigation found impropriety or misbehavior.[1] In a letter sent to the attorney general on July 5, Adelstein said he believes impeachment would take too long because the South Dakota Legislature doesn't meet again until January. He asked about using a state law that allows the governor to hold a hearing and remove another state official for misconduct, crime or gross incompetency.[1] Adelstein told the Associated Press, "I'm hoping to have Gant either resign himself or have him be removed from office based on that law for lack of ability to run that office...I'm pleased that Powers is gone. That's only the first step."[1]

Under the South Dakota Constitution, the Governor and other state and judicial officers can face impeachment for "drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office."[1]

The same constitutional provision gives the State House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment, with a majority of 36 needed to impeach. An impeachment is then tried by the State Senate, with a two-thirds vote needed to remove the official from office.[1]

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