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Minnehaha GOP Boycotts Legislative Coffee

January 3, 2013, 4:55 PM by Hailey Higgins

Minnehaha GOP Boycotts Legislative Coffee
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

The Minnehaha County GOP is pulling out of longtime public forum saying it's too liberal.

Every year, the League of Women Voters legislative coffee gives people a chance to ask lawmakers questions and find out what's happening in Pierre. 

Some Republicans want more of a say on what questions are asked and who is asking them. But not everyone in the party agrees.

For the last several years, Republican Representative Manny Steele says he's noticed the League of Women Voters legislative coffee is too liberal.  He says it's biased against the GOP.

"They're the ones, I feel, who have caused this problem and continued to cause it to grow into a problem," Steele said.

Steele says the party would rather have a member of the Siouxland Republican Women oversee the selection of questions. 

League of Women Voters Sioux Falls President Anne Thompson turned down the request, saying the league tends to make conservative decisions and the liberal slant is unsubstantiated.

"It very easy to toss around these kinds of terms, but the truth is, it depends on your definition of liberal and conservative," Thompson said.

In response, Steele says the GOP will hold its own forum at the same time as the League's chamber-sponsored event.

"It's really disappointing. It's unfair. We're not trying to be liberal or conservative. We are trying to inform the public," Bob O'Connell with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce said.

But not every Republican agrees with the party's move. District 12 Senator Mark Johnston says he hasn't noticed liberal moderators or biased questions at the event.

"To say, no we're going to go do our own thing, that's just insane to me. I'm disappointed. I'm shocked. I'm sad. We're better than that," Johnston said.

Steele adds the party is only pulling out of one of the four Chamber sponsored coffees. Thompson says the League of Women Voters will continue to plan the event.

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