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Lawmaker Calls Committee Assignment 'Corrupt'

November 29, 2011, 4:54 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Lawmaker Calls Committee Assignment 'Corrupt'
SIOUX FALLS, SD - A controversy is brewing between two South Dakota lawmakers over a committee assignment in the state legislature.

Representative Stace Nelson, who lives just outside of Mitchell in Hanson County, says he is being moved off the House Agriculture Committee because he opposes a large dairy operation proposed in his county.

The Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives says that claim is false.

Speaker Val Rausch says he hasn't moved anybody on any committee yet but he needs to make room for Dave Scott, a new legislator who was just appointed by Governor Dennis Daugaard to fill a vacant seat.

But Nelson says he was informed Tuesday that he is being moved off the Agriculture Committee because of his opposition to a 7,000 head dairy operation, and he’s calling it ‘Chicago-style politics.’

"The action itself I think is rank corruption at its worst," Nelson, a Republican from Fulton, said.

Nelson even sent out a Tweet on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon that said he is being removed from the House Agriculture Committee by Rausch because of his opposition to the dairy operation.

"In the conversation of this, (Nelson said) 'It looks like I'm being relieved of my position because of my opposition to this dairy.'  He (Rausch) made it very clear that his feelings were of that sort," Nelson said.

"That's totally false. I'm aware of that situation but that's not the reason I would need to move him if that indeed happens," Rausch said.

Rausch says he hasn't made any decisions official on committee assignments, but says newly-appointed lawmaker Dave Scott of Geddes has an extensive agriculture background and would fit well on that committee.

"The buck stops on my desk. The decision is mine alone and has been. People want to read more into decisions then that's very unfortunate because that just wouldn't be true," Rausch said.

Nelson believes he's being singled out.

"There's no reason to remove me from the ag committee, especially on the behalf of the governor's appointee who is a freshman coming in," Nelson said.

The governor's office says they were informed about this move Monday and that all committee assignments are made by the Speaker of the House, and they don't get involved in the process.

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