Nichole Braithwait is a retired Air Force veteran and patriot working to straighten out the local government in Lawrence County.  Upon hearing the news that one of the Lawrence County Commissioners abruptly resigned with immediate effect, she started to dig to try to find answers as to why.  Here is what she wrote:
“I’m a Patriot. Democrats and Republicans alike MUST be held accountable. In my opinion, our country is crumbling due to the uniparty.
Back in August we saw a flurry of articles come out about lawmakers involved in taking payments from the state as well as potential conflict of interest issues. These are just a couple examples that started the ball rolling:
More South Dakota lawmakers found to have taken payments from state – An investigation by The Dakota Scout finds at least a half-dozen legislators or legislator-owned businesses listed as vendors in state finance documents
Black Hills lawmaker cooperating with state as deadline for repayment of $600K in state funds passes -Governor’s Office, Attorney General won’t say if deal has been struck
Corruption in South Dakota: A Deep Dive into a Culture of Misconduct
Freedom Caucus Calls on Governor for Supreme Court Advisory Opinion Amidst Senator Resignation
For our District 31 elected officials, a few issues came to mind for people who are paying attention. First, Rep Fitzgerald voted yes on SB201 which gave a 7% pay increase for state employees. Her husband is a state employee. Second and my focus here that follows, Senator Deibert is BOTH a Senator and a Commissioner. The SD AG has already offered an opinion on this issue and there is indeed a conflict of interest with this situation. Why on earth would he have ever tried to hold both seats and think that was ok?
Further, it should be noted that Senator/Commissioner Deibert owns a land surveying company that is tied to both the Sandford Lab (SURF) and the Keating Resources. SURF receives a lot of money from the state and Keating is involved in housing developments (specifically Deer Mountain) in our area here in Lawrence County. Further noted, Sen Deibert recused himself from votes related to the SURF funding and in the county minutes for the Keating vote. Recusal is always a good thing, but there are still issues here to consider. How were contracts and bids solicited by SURF and Keating for these projects? From my perspective, Sen/Commissioner Deibert is in a pretty good position to have influence over “winning” those bids. Here are some links with further details:
Legislature approves $13M for SURF expansion – By Wendy Pitlick Black Hills Pioneer Mar 3, 2023
So we have been in a state of radio silence for a couple of months, not hearing much more from Pierre on any further conflict of interest situations and what is to come of them. Then yesterday the “unexpected” (or was it?) immediate resignation of Commissioner Deibert.
This is a secondhand account of what happened during the 24 Oct 23 county commissioner’s meeting. Once the video is released, we can confirm.
During Commissioners Comment, Chair Bob Ewing said he needed to read a letter. He read Commissioner Deibert’s resignation letter. He “seemed” shocked and called for a 5 minute recess for everyone to “wrap their heads around this” and Bruce Outka was to research what to do now.
Back from recess, Bruce passed on that law stated that with an even number of commissioners, the county auditor (Brenda McGruder) would become a temporary commissioner to ensure there are five of them to break voting ties. Brenda is now acting commissioner.
Commissioner Flanagan calls for the immediate replacement of Commissioner Deibert.
Chair Ewing calls for nominations. Commissioner Flanagan nominates Rick Tysdal from Planning and Zoning. Commissioner Sleep nominates another individuals (unknown who at this time). Chair Ewing asks a member in the audience, Ron Moeller, if he is interested and Ron says yes and said a few words.
Commissioner Flanagan quickly calls to close nominations, and they do. There is then some back and forth that Tysdal was the only real nomination and they should move forward. Chair Ewing then comes back to nominations and nominates Moeller and Sleep nominates another unknown person. Secondhand telling is that this part of the saga was very rushed and hurried and a bit cumbersome. It felt “prescripted.”
There was then a roll call vote on Tysdal. Brenda called the role: Flanagan YES, Sleep NO, Jennings NO, McGruder YES, Ewing YES.
Congrats Lawrence County, Rick Tysdal is your new county commissioner.
As a side note, there are further rumors that Lee Shoenbeck allegedly told Sen/Commissioner Deibert he needed to resign to “get ahead” of things. No idea what those things may be, but maybe we will start seeing some more information come out of Pierre on all these potential conflicts of interest.
As I stated in a response to Commissioner Deibert…A county auditor recently disclosed… “I think there was recent “conflict of interest“ forms that were required during our County Audit process. I’m pretty sure state legislators can not receive County money. So that would mean that one can not be a legislator and commissioner.”…
So I am wondering if he had to complete this form too? The whole TRUTH would sure be nice…”