(SD)-SD House Dissolves Committee Investigating RC Lawmaker
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota House has disbanded a special committee investigating Representative David Johnson of Rapid City for his altercation with Box Elder lawmaker Lynne DiSanto on the House floor last Wednesday.
The 64-1 vote Monday came at the request of DiSanto, who said she'd accepted a personal apology from Johnson and had forgiven him for what she calls "unacceptable and unprofessional" behavior that made her fear for her safety.
The chairman of the special committee on discipline and expulsion established last Friday had planned for it to meet for the first time on Wednesday. Johnson issued a public apology on the House floor during the debate on creating the committee, saying his emotions got the better of him.
After the vote to end the committee, Johnson said he was ready and willing to cooperate with it but was glad it has been dissolved. Johnson also said he and DiSanto are looking forward to effectively working together in the future on a professional and friendly basis.
Even though the House committee has been dissolved, Attorney General Marty Jackley says the Highway Patrol requested the Division of Criminal Investigation assistance in reviewing the incident but notes the state constitution protects lawmakers from arrest during a session except for cases of "treason, felony or breach of the peace."
A report by the South Dakota Broadcasters Association says eyewitnesses reported a heated exchange between Johnson, a first-term lawmaker who owns a tree care company, and DiSanto that escalated into raised voices, foul language, and finger-pointing.
Johnson was eventually restrained by a fellow lawmaker and a complaint was filed with law enforcement by DiSanto and others.
Rapid City State Senator Phil Jensen, a Republican like Johnson and DiSanto, told KOTA news that House leaders tried to sweep the incident under the rug but that a group of conservative female lawmakers demanded action.
Jensen said the move to form the disciplinary committee followed a 2-hour meeting between the women and House leaders, adding that he thinks it's going to be a "kangaroo committee" because no conservatives were named to it.
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