Why South Dakota's Senatorial Witch Hunt Should Concern All of Us
Pay attention to what is happening here.
The media is trying to make this about a senator’s alleged behavior, but the REAL story is how the South Dakota Senate is abandoning due process and setting precedents for thought crimes within our legislative branch.
And if you zoom out you’ll see that the bigger picture is a wide scale attempt to create a playbook for eliminating “thought criminals” on an institutional level.
This is cancel culture on crack.
I posted about Senator Julie Frye-Mueller yesterday…
The Dakota Leader provides additional details:
On the morning of Thursday Jan. 26, 2023 Senator Frye-Mueller introduced SB 125, "An Act to prohibit the imposition of additional immunization requirements on children."
According to sources, Senator Frye-Mueller stopped into the LRC (Legislative Research Council) office that morning, in order to make revisions to her bill. Allegedly, a conversation took place at that time where the senator was asked for advice by a female staff member she considered to be a friend. What was stated during this conversation is said to have been germane to the topic of childhood vaccines, a topic that Frye-Mueller is very vocal about.
By that afternoon Senate President Pro-Tem Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) made a motion to suspend the senate's rules and have Frye-Mueller relieved of her legislative authority, vote, and even her email access. Citing a 2006 sexual harassment case, Schoenbeck argued that Frye-Mueller’s comment was considered misconduct, and therefore leadership has the authority to handle the case like an internal HR matter.
The bar seems to have been deliberately wiggled to put Frye-Mueller in a chokehold.
In February of 2006, an eighteen-year-old senate page accused Senator Dan Sutton of making unwanted sexual advances towards him at a motel. Sen. Sutton was not removed from his seat, nor was he expelled, as the senate lacked the authority to do so. However, in the case of Sen. Frye-Mueller, she has been removed indefinitely without due process or a formal allegation of wrong-doing.
Per South Dakota Codified Law, a bill must be sponsored by a member of the legislature in order to advance, meaning Sen. Frye-Mueller’s medical freedom bill (SB 125) is also expelled, along with the voice of her entire district.
Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden warned against this course of action against Frye-Mueller, stating:
I understand the motion before us is to suspend the rules. Suspending the rules does not suspend us from the obligation to follow a state law or common sense. Can you site to me in law, or by what authority, it’s proper for this chamber to strip the voting rights from a duly elected member of this body?
Lee Schoenbeck responded,
I don’t have a statute in front of me. I don’t need one. The rules, as LRC has explained to me, is that we have the ability to protect the decorum of the body. (emphasis mine)
Interestingly, it was an LRC staffer who lodged the complaint.
Lt. Gov. Rhoden offered a final caution, but was ignored.
I have to say that the rules that govern us in this chamber and in the house have been written very deliberately and meticulously to keep us within the boundaries of laws that are already on the books and our constitution. There are a lot of times that we suspend the rules for different things, to bypass deadlines and whatnot, but in this case, by suspending the rules, we are denying a member of a longstanding legal principle in the United States of America of due process. We have put the cart ahead of the horse in first suspending a member and taking their ability to represent the people who elected them to serve in that office away from them before they’ve had a jury of their peers before the board’s been established. For those reasons, I’m going to rule the motion out of order.
South Dakota senators proceeded to voted 27-6 to form a nine-person committee to investigate Frye-Mueller's conduct…and then opted for an additional loophole, allowing them to hold this “public hearing” behind closed doors to protect the employee making the allegations.
And then, what do you know, the redacted allegations were shared across Twitter and throughout the media.
Meanwhile, returning to “the decorum of this body”…
While the media and the South Dakota legislature is focused on character assaults against Frye-Mueller that jump to the conclusion that these allegations are true, the public is failing to recognize that we’re all being hoodwinked while a new playbook is written to remove legislators with inconvenient positions.
#Boobgate is being used to reduce this story to a conversation about vaccines and breastfeeding that made an LRC staffer “uncomfortable” - the perfect fodder for fueling outrage in Twitter’s court of public opinion - in an attempt to unseat a senator who consistently uses her voice to advance medical freedom.
Is it unreasonable to wonder whether the influence of Sanford Health could be playing a role here? The National Review has reported on lobbying efforts linking the company to a number of healthcare agendas.
According to the National Review:
Sanford, which purports to be “the largest rural health system in the United States” — it currently employs nearly seven times more South Dakotans than any other business in the state — has played a pivotal role in orchestrating those conservative failures…
…The health-care company sells puberty blockers and performs “gender-reassignment” surgery. Its lobbyists appeared at the state legislature to oppose legislative initiatives including conscience rights for medical practitioners who object to performing abortions and sex-change operations, and a ban on puberty blockers and sex-reassignment surgery for children under 16. Both proposals ultimately failed to pass. “The bill to prevent doctors from giving hormone-blocking drugs to kids — when it failed, that was all Sanford,” John Mills, a Republican lawmaker representing South Dakota’s fourth house district, told NR. “You want to believe it’s not about the profit, but you also witness the reality of what’s happening on the ground and can’t help but wonder.”
When you look at the big picture, it’s clear that this is not simply about a senator in South Dakota and a conversation about vaccines and breastfeeding. There is a collective effort to silence dissenting voices in all of our institutions and punish and eliminate the people who threaten a broader agenda.
They’re attempting to do the same thing to doctors.
They’re doing it to professors.
And now they’re coming for legislators.
If you let them write this playbook, they will most certainly use it. Wake up.