Late-breaking scandal could cost GOP expected South Dakota Senate seat

The largest newspaper in South Dakota broke a story that could cost the GOP a red state Senate seat. The Fiscal Times reports:

 The three-way race for South Dakota’s open Senate seat got more complicated Wednesday, when the Sioux Falls Argus Leader published a page one story alleging that former Governor Mike Rounds, the Republican candidate and current leader in the polls, had approved $600,000 in state assistance to a company that was about hire a member of his cabinet.

According to reporter David Montgomery, then Secretary of Tourism and State Development Richard Benda requested the assistance for Northern Beef Packers about two weeks before he and Rounds were to leave office. Benda was about to go to work for a company with an investment in the plant – something Montgomery reports that Rounds knew while he remained in office, either at the time he signed off on the assistance, or shortly thereafter.

The article quotes Rounds saying, “My staff told me that when he was leaving state government, he was going to work for an investor in the beef plant.”

Rounds now says that his former Tourism Secretary misled him. Benda, who later faced accusations that, once in the private sector, he had redirected state grant money to pay his own salary, committed suicide in October 2013. 

Conveniently, Benda is unavailable to corroborate Rounds’ story.  Also conveniently for Democrats, the race is a four-way race, with two rival conservatives splitting the vote.

Rounds’ Democratic challenger is businessman Rick Weiland, a former aide to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) who has been running a few points behind Rounds in the polls. Complicating the race is former Sen. Larry Pressler, a one-time Republican who is running as an independent. Polling has shown that Pressler has gained considerable ground in recent weeks, though most surveys still have him in third place. A complicating factor is State Sen. Gordon Howie, a conservative who is running to Rounds’ right, and taking a small percentage of the vote.

Democrats are already pouring money into  South Dakota’s inexpensive media markets. You can expect a massive buy for negative ads attacking Rounds for corruption.

The largest newspaper in South Dakota broke a story that could cost the GOP a red state Senate seat. The Fiscal Times reports:

 The three-way race for South Dakota’s open Senate seat got more complicated Wednesday, when the Sioux Falls Argus Leader published a page one story alleging that former Governor Mike Rounds, the Republican candidate and current leader in the polls, had approved $600,000 in state assistance to a company that was about hire a member of his cabinet.

According to reporter David Montgomery, then Secretary of Tourism and State Development Richard Benda requested the assistance for Northern Beef Packers about two weeks before he and Rounds were to leave office. Benda was about to go to work for a company with an investment in the plant – something Montgomery reports that Rounds knew while he remained in office, either at the time he signed off on the assistance, or shortly thereafter.

The article quotes Rounds saying, “My staff told me that when he was leaving state government, he was going to work for an investor in the beef plant.”

Rounds now says that his former Tourism Secretary misled him. Benda, who later faced accusations that, once in the private sector, he had redirected state grant money to pay his own salary, committed suicide in October 2013. 

Conveniently, Benda is unavailable to corroborate Rounds’ story.  Also conveniently for Democrats, the race is a four-way race, with two rival conservatives splitting the vote.

Rounds’ Democratic challenger is businessman Rick Weiland, a former aide to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) who has been running a few points behind Rounds in the polls. Complicating the race is former Sen. Larry Pressler, a one-time Republican who is running as an independent. Polling has shown that Pressler has gained considerable ground in recent weeks, though most surveys still have him in third place. A complicating factor is State Sen. Gordon Howie, a conservative who is running to Rounds’ right, and taking a small percentage of the vote.

Democrats are already pouring money into  South Dakota’s inexpensive media markets. You can expect a massive buy for negative ads attacking Rounds for corruption.