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Sioux Falls ethics board dismisses mayor complaint

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- The Board of Ethics in Sioux Falls has thrown out a complaint about the mayor's involvement in public presentations on a proposed $115 million events center, saying it lacks authority in the matter.

The move does not necessarily signal an end to the lingering dispute. The man who filed the complaint tells the media that he will be conferring with his lawyer, and the state's attorney general is not ruling out becoming involved.

I.L. Wiedermann, who filed the complaint, contends the city and mayor violated state law and a city charter by using public money for presentations that advocate for building the proposed center, which residents of South Dakota's largest city will vote on Nov. 8. Mayor Mike Huether, an outspoken proponent of the center, also has been accused of passing out publicly funded pamphlets supporting the project.

The ethics board discussed the matter behind closed doors in executive session on Thursday. City Attorney David Pfeifle recused himself as the board's legal adviser but did not publicly say why. Ethics board members and Pfeifle later said the complaint would remain confidential indefinitely unless Huether decided the information could be made public. Wiedermann -- who was told by Pfeifle that the matter was confidential while Wiedermann was speaking with reporters -- said he was forbidden by the city to discuss the matter.

Attorney General Marty Jackley has not waded into the dispute, saying it is a matter for the city ethics board and city attorney. However, he said Thursday that he and the county state's attorney might have jurisdiction.

"Because of the broad statutes of authority for both the attorney general as well as possibly the state's attorney, I'm not going to go so far as to say anything is dead," he said. "It seems with the city attorney and the ethics committee, they had first opportunity to look at this as far as what their position is, and there may exist more."

Jackley said his office has received complaints only about one presentation Huether made.

"There would have to be more evidence than a mayor speaking at a Rotary Club luncheon," Jackley said.

Wiedermann said he has heard only one side of the events center debate at several city presentations.