Legislature hires former U.S. Attorney to assist in conflict of interest case
Ron Parsons, Attorney General, Noem asked to submit amicus briefs for Supreme Court opinion on lawmakers benefiting from state contracts
The former U.S. Attorney of South Dakota has been enlisted to assist the state’s High Court in determining what potential financial conflicts amount to constitutional violations for state lawmakers.
The South Dakota Legislature’s Executive Committee this week tapped Sioux Falls lawyer Ron Parsons to pen an amicus brief on its behalf in the South Dakota Supreme Court’s pending advisory opinion on legislative conflicts.
Parsons is considered a premier appellate and constitutional lawyer. The 56-year-old was appointed by President Trump to serve as U.S. Attorney for South Dakota in 2017. He returned to private practice in Sioux Falls four years later. He is among multiple attorneys who will file briefs with the Court, which last month asked the Legislature, the Governor’s Office and the South Dakota Attorney General to opine on how Article III, Section 12 of the state Constitution should be interpreted.
That provision in the Constitution bars legislators from directly or indirectly benefiting from “any contract with the state or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.”
But following a summer resignation of a senator whose business accepted state grant funds and a subsequent investigation by The Dakota Scout that spotlighted numerous potential financial conflicts among the 104 remaining legislators, Gov. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley in October requested guidance from the court.
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