South Dakota Democratic Party committee will hear former chair’s appeal over recall election

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.(Argus Leader)- A seven-member committee will hear the formal appeal of the former chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, who was ousted earlier this month following allegations that she had created a hostile work environment and violated the party’s constitution.

The committee, approved Tuesday morning by the state party’s executive board, will have 13 days to either approve or reject the appeal of Jennifer Slaight-Hansen. If rejected, an election for a new chair would be held Sept. 16 during the Democratic Roundup in Rapid City.

Slaight-Hansen was recalled from her position Aug. 19 by a vote of 57 ayes and two abstentions a few months after she began her role in April.

By late July, the Democratic Legislative caucuses, the Minnehaha County Democratic Party, the Lincoln County Democratic Party and the Pennington County Democratic Party had all requested she resign.

Minority Leader Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, and Minority Leader Rep. Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade, also sent a letter to Slaight-Hansen outlining four parts of the state Democratic Party constitution they alleged she had violated through actions including improperly hiring and firing employees and not effectively communicating with the legislature.

The party’s executive director, Dan Ahlers, also resigned earlier this month, alleging that Slaight-Hansen had created a hostile work environment and asked staff to take actions that could have violated Federal Election Commission laws.

The seven members of the appeals committee are:

  • Dennis Olson
  • Mary Perpich
  • Kathy Tyler
  • Susan Wismer
  • Olivia Siglin
  • Curt Pochardt
  • Zachary Ludens