It’s REALLY hard for me to not be cynical about the pair of stories that have dominated the local paper today. First this morning came the announcement that Bill Janklow, former long-time governor of South Dakota, was closing his state campaign account and transferring the money to his personal account. If you don’t know the story, Janklow was a very popular Republican governor, and then member of the House of Representatives…until he was convicted of manslaughter in 2004 for running through a stop sign at high speed and killing a motorcyclist. He resigned from Congress right after being convicted.
He had a state campaign account at the time that he never closed. South Dakota law, being completely ass-backwards, stupidly allows politicians to keep campaign money for personal use after the race is over, making the state rather unique. As the story notes, previous politicians in South Dakota have transferred campaign money to personal accounts, but the amounts have usually been relatively small. Janklow’s $850,000 blows away any amount transferred to a personal account. Janklow ALWAYS struck me as being somewhat slimy, and this move certainly reinforces that opinion. His manslaughter conviction wasn’t the first time Janklow has had trouble with the law. Drunk driving, indecent exposure, not following statutes for pardoning convicted criminals while governor…Janklow has a history, and reputation, of being something of a rebel. And a jerk. Even more sickening were allegations of rape of a 15-year old babysitter in 1967.
Janklow’s son says that his father has anonymously donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities. Uh…OK….sure. The fact that his son felt the need to slip that into the conversation today when this story broke makes me even MORE suspicious of the move. He says his dad will likely do the same and donate much of this $850,000. Uh…OK…sure. I’m sure he’ll donate it “anonymously” like he supposedly has in the past.
And yes, some of you will probably think that I’m TOO cynical here, but…the story of Janklow transferring the $850K was the headline here today…for a few hours. Just completely by coincidence (I’m sure), a few hours after the news broke of Janklow transferring this money, Janklow announced that he has terminal brain cancer. He says he doesn’t know how long he has. What I DO know…Janklow announcing this today knocked the story of him pocketing $850K off of the front pages of the paper. Which I am positive was his intention.
I have no idea how serious his brain cancer is. Janklow wouldn’t say. But given his past history of complete sliminess, I just can’t help but be cynical about the two stories breaking within a few hours of each other. Do you think Janklow would have come forward today and announced the cancer, if the Argus hadn’t broke the story about the campaign account? No way in hell. I would LOVE to see some disclosure of what happens to this $850,000 now. Maybe Janklow will prove me wrong. Maybe he will donate it to charity, given that he’s supposedly meeting his maker soon. But I suspect that first of all 1) there will never be any further disclosure of where that money goes, and 2) Janklow will still be around for a while.
Hey, read the title of the blog! It says I’m a CYNICAL scientist. I wouldn’t want to disappoint you regarding my cynacism, especially when this story is such low-hanging fruit for me. Janklow has SUCH a history. Today’s news is just too much to be a coincidence.