Wollmann resigns from South Dakota House

District 8 representative Mathew Wollmann submitted his letter of resignation from the South Dakota House of Representatives on Monday morning.

Last week Wollmann, a Madison resident, admitted to consensual sexual contact with an intern in 2015 and 2016. The two different interns are both over 21.

His letter states that the resignation will take effect immediately. He wrote further that he knows the legislative body has many important decisions to make, but he is without the focus he desires.

“I also know that although I feel extraordinarily better for coming forward and telling what is the absolutely truth of the matter, that the trust of the people isn’t with me 100 percent as I wish it was, and that my thoughts and energy are not directed immediately to those important issues,” Wollmann wrote in his resignation letter.

The Associated Press reported last week that lawmakers will form a select committee on discipline and expulsion to investigate Wollmann’s conduct.

According to the Mitchell Daily Republic, Speaker of the House G. Mark Mickelson, House Majority Leader Lee Qualm and House Minority Leader Spencer Hawley said the Legislature will be meeting in the coming weeks with interns and staff to discuss appropriate conduct and proper reporting of potential violations of standards of conduct. They will also discuss any recommended updates to the legislative rules.

Earlier in the 2017 session, a legislative committee voted down a joint legislative rule change proposed by State Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, that would have barred legislators from sexual contact with interns and pages. The rule was voted against by the committee.

The governor will be in charge of making appointments to fill the vacancy left in the House following Wollmann’s resignation.

According to the South Dakota Constitution, “The Governor shall make appointments to fill such vacancies as may occur in either house of the Legislature.”

In a statement late Monday morning, Gov. Dennis Daugaard indicated a swift replacement will be made to replace Wollmann.

“I think Rep. Wollman made the right decision, and I will act quickly to name a replacement so District 8 is fully represented during the session,” Daugaard said.

The Republic reported Wollman was the top vote-getter for the two District 8 House seats in November's general election, earning 34.71 percent of the vote. Prior to his resignation, Wollmann was serving the four-county district, Sanborn, Miner, Lake and Moody, in the state House of Representatives alongside Rep. Leslie Heinemann, of Flandreau.

The pair of Republicans defeated District 8 Democrats Jason Unger, of Flandreau, and Kory Rawstern, of Madison. Unger earned 22.65 percent of the vote, while Rawstern earned 12.75 percent.

Wollmann’s full letter of resignation can be found under the letters to the editor on page 3 of this week’s Enterprise.

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