UPDATE: Embattled SD secretary of state employee resignsPIERRE (AP) — An employee at the center of an investigation into South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant's office has resigned, Gant announced Friday.
By: Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press
PIERRE (AP) — An employee at the center of an investigation into South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant's office has resigned, Gant announced Friday.
State Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, requested an investigation of the Republican secretary of state's office last month after learning employee Pat Powers had been running an online business that sold campaign materials. Adelstein said the business was inappropriate because the secretary of state's office supervises elections.
Adelstein has asked Attorney General Marty Jackley to look into now-shut down Dakota Campaign Store. 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.
A spokeswoman for Jackley has said the matter is under review.
Gant announced in an emailed statement Friday that Powers has left the secretary of state's office "to spend more time with his children and pursue business opportunities in the private sector." Gant's announcement thanked Powers for helping to modernize the office and make its operations more transparent.
Gant did not immediately return a phone call seeking further comment. Powers has no listed phone number in the Pierre area and did not immediately return a message left at his Brookings home.
Gant earlier said he had no involvement in Powers' campaign supply business and did not benefit from it. He said he knew Powers was running the company while on his staff from January 2011 through May of this year, but asked him to shut it down after Adelstein and others questioned whether it was appropriate.
Adelstein last month asked the attorney general whether impeachment or removal from office would be warranted if an investigation found impropriety or misbehavior.
The senator said Friday he still wants Gant out of office. In a letter sent to the attorney general Thursday, 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.
"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," Adelstein told The Associated Press.
"I'm pleased that Powers is gone. That's only the first step," Adelstein said.
Under the South Dakota Constitution, the governor and some other state and judicial officers can face impeachment for "drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office."
The 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.