It looks like the Argus has stolen PP over at the South Dakota War College’s thunder as they have come out with details of a scandal involving sexual misconduct between Sen. Dan Sutton of Flandreau and an 18 year old legislative page.
The father of the former page, believed to be a male, has accused Sen. Dan Sutton, D-Flandreau, of misconduct during the last legislative session, said Senate Democratic Leader Garry Moore of Yankton.
The article says that the allegation has sparked both a criminal and requests for a Senate investigation.
South Dakota Senate President Pro Tem Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, confirmed Wednesday that Sutton is the target of both a criminal and state Senate investigation involving an 18-year-old legislative page.”As the presiding officer of the Senate, I got a complaint from parents of a page about a senator’s conduct towards that page of a sexual nature during the session, and we take those things serious,” Schoenbeck said.
“When a formal complaint like that’s made, two things are going to happen. The person accused is going to be entitled to a hearing, if they want one, and we’re going to take the complaint seriously. We’re going to investigate it. It’s going to run its course, whatever in the end that is.
“The senators feel very strongly about the page program, and any allegation of any improper conduct towards a page is going to be investigated and dealt with.”
Schoenbeck said the allegations against Sutton have been the subject of a criminal investigation for months.
“I believe that what in the end motivated the father to call me was when that national thing broke. He’d been getting people in the community that knew about the investigation calling him and saying, ‘Why aren’t you doing something?’ He’s been involved in politics himself, and he understands the process and so he knew that if he called the presiding officer, that would start a process going and he made the decision to do that.”
Schoenbeck said he has sent a letter to Senate colleagues about the allegations.
“Under Senate rules, it’s my job to be the first one to deal with that,” he said.
“I would not express an opinion about the truthfulness of the allegation,” Schoenbeck added. “That’s why we have a hearing process in the Senate.”
The issue is now in the hands of South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long and I am sure much more is on the horizon regarding this matter. Either way, kudos to Pat for breaking the story on his blog.
UPDATE: The usual partisanship rhetoric is already starting in the comments section over at the War College with accusations of coverup by the liberal Argus and questions on why Stephanie Herseth hasn’t come out calling for Dan Sutton’s resignation as she did with Rep. Mark Foley who resigned under a similar scandal.
Come on folks this story (at least the public knowledge of it) is still in the very early stages and there is some serious questions that still need to be resolved including who knew what and when (sound familiar?) and for those that think the Argus withheld announcing this for political reasons, please ask yourself why they would have waited until 3 weeks before the elections when any option by the Democrats to either get past this issue or at least replace Sutton on the ballot have long since passed? It will quite probably sell more newspapers this way but it definitely won’t help Democrats…