Butler, a prominent criminal defense lawyer who represents Sutton, said the idea "borders on an anti-Democratic power play."
"People are attempting to influence the outcome of elections," Butler said. "And I hope the governor exercises some restraint here and trusts the investigative process of the attorney general's office and the Division of Criminal Investigation to do their jobs ... and not act impulsively as some people are inclined to do."
"The blunt threat that Sen. Lee Schoenbeck made to Sen. Dan Sutton was supposed to be an offer that couldn't be refused."
"Then a month before the Nov. 7 elections, with Republicans in danger of least at least some seats in the Senate, and their majority possibly in danger, the father of the page--a prominent Democrat--took his complaint about the matter to Schoenbeck.
"The letter sent by Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, to Sutton lit the fuse for an explosion of publicity about the case. The follow-up letter by Senate Democratic leader Garry Moore of Yankton to the rest of the Democratic senators blew the matter wide open.
"Suddenly an unsubstantiated rumor became a news story because of the course of action taken by Schoenbeck in his role as the Senate's top elected officer.
"Schoenbeck's official letter, explaining to Sutton this his resignation would mean no Senate investigation, was an ultimatum. When Schoenbeck officially threatened a sitting senator with possible expulsion, Schoenbeck's action demanded a news story, regardless of what the underlying reasons might be.
"Hindsight suggests there could have been better ways for the Senate's leadership to handle this matter. With his letter Schoenbeck, who has made no secret of his desire to run for governor in 2010, put himself in a no-win situation right alongside Sutton.
"To some people, Schoenbeck's Godfather-like threat to Sutton looked like a Republican playing power politics a few weeks before the Nov. 7 elections.
"Among other people, an opposite question was being asked.
"Why would Schoebeck be willing to let a senator, accused of serioius improper conduct, resign rather than face official disciplinary action by the Senate? With the congressional page scandal looming, the last thing Schoenbeck wanted was to be accused of sweeping under the rug a complaint from a page's parent.
"But Schoenbeck's letter to Sutton also put Moore in a no-win situation.
"Moore said he didn't know about the allegations against Sutton until two weeks ago, when Schoenbeck called him. Moore said he preferred that the Legislature's executive board look into the matter, rather than proceed directly on the route that Schoenbeck took.
"By refusing to join Schoenbeck in signing the letter to Sutton, Moore faced the potential accusation that he wanted to cover up the matter. So Moore's subsequent letter to his fellow Democrats served as defense for himself while also making his caucus members aware of what was happening.
"But the Moore letter also back-fired on him and the Democrats. His letter made it appear to some reporters for other news organizations that Moore and his Democratic caucus led the charge against Sutton.
"That worked to the short-term benefit of Schoenbeck and the Republicans, by putting the spotlight on the other party. Moore was left to issue a statewide announcement Thursday clarifying that he wasn't calling on Sutton to resign.
"Now that it's partially out in the open, this matter could vibrate far beyond what did or didn't happen in Sutton's motel room in Fort Pierre, where the page was staying with his parents' permission.
"Much more significantly, the matter might turn attention to the failed Ridgefield Farms beef-processing project, and the roles of key people involved in it, as efforts for its start-up failed first in Huron and then in Flandreau.
"Here is the connection between the page matter and the Ridgefield matter: Schoenbeck's ultimatum letter to Sutton was also sent by Schoenbeck to Wiese.The power play, if any, involves Republicans using some fractiousness in the Democratic Party to political advantage. With a post-election special session on the horizon to investigate a sitting Democratic senator, the Republicans can hope for some votes to fall their way.
"A number of key legislators were involved in the run-up to the decision to send the ultimatum letter to Sutton.
"It has become evident in recent days they were not aware of the full background of events unfolding in Flandreau involving Wiese and Sutton.
"The story regarding the page father's complaint against Sutton could become much bigger, and much less clear cut , as more of the background and identities of the people come to light, in both the page complaint and the politics of Ridgefield in Flandreau. "
May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006