Republican Leaders Terminate Democratic Legislative Secretary

Jan 16, 2015

The South Dakota Speaker of the House of Representatives has terminated a House secretary for the Democratic Caucus. Democrats are frustrated with Speaker Dean Wink’s decision and view it as a political move to diminish democrat views in the state legislature. 

Both republicans and democrats get to choose secretaries to perform administrative functions for the House and Senate during the legislative session. The administrative assistants are state employees and must be approved by the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem. of the Senate. House democrats chose Kathy Tyler, a former lawmaker who served last legislative session. Speaker Dean Wink has terminated Tyler because of a constitutional statute which says lawmakers may not hold or have an interest in a state contract for a year after leaving office.  Democrats say republican leadership has taken a very broad definition of the statute. They say many legislators would have a conflict of interest under this view. 

Spencer Hawley is the current House Minority leader. He says democrats feel the true reason for terminating Kathy Tyler is because she was an outspoken opponent against the federal EB-5 immigrant visa program. The EB-5 program caused controversy for republican leaders last year.

"She was on it all the time and it created big frustration on the other side. And it just feels like a retaliatory move from what’s going on," says Hawley.

House Speaker Dean Wink says this was not the reason for terminating Kathy Tyler. He says this is an unfortunate situation and understands why democrats feel frustrated. However, Wink says he must uphold the rules of the state constitution.