With the hearing underway underway on J.A.I.L.’s objection to the Attorney General’s ballot explanation on Amendment E, it may be an appropriate time to actually look at two documents signed by South Dakota J.A.I.L.er-in-Chief Bill Stegmeier.
The lawsuit being heard by Judge Gors was started by an affidavit signed by Stegmeier. An affidavit “is a written declaration under oath.” We all know what an oath is — swearing to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” So, appearing below is most of Paragraph 5 of the affidavit and Stegmeier’s signature on it.
Paragraph 5 is the heart of the lawsuit, objecting to the explanation’s statement that Amendment E will apply to school boards, city councils, county commissions and similar public entities. That, Stegmeier swears under oath, is “purely political opinion” and must be deleted from the explanation. (Recall also that in his earlier letter to the AG, Stegmeier said that statement was an “invention” of the amendment’s opponents.)
Yet in December 2005 Stegmeier signed the following mailer to Madison area residents seeking to rebut an editorial written by Keith Jensen of the Madison Daily Leader (address, phone number and e-mail information redacted):
Let’s look at what he said about the editorial’s statement that J.A.I.L. applies to more than judges (black line indicates where material was removed):
That’s right. He said Jensen was “stating the truth” in saying J.A.I.L. applied to “every school board, city council, county commission, professional licensing board, in fact every citizen board in the state exercising quasi-judicial powers.” That seems to be completely contrary to what Stegmeier now says some eight months later.
Yet doesn’t that beg a question even bigger than J.A.I.L.’s continuing lack of candor? Since Stegmeier claims to have “authored” Amendment E, is his affidavit false or does the Madison mailer make him guilty of printing, publishing or delivering a document giving false and misleading information to voters?
It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.