House ends inquiry into representative who scared colleague
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota House decided Monday to end an investigation into Republican state Rep. David Johnson at the request of a lawmaker who said he made her fear for her safety last week at the Capitol.
House members voted 64-1 to disband a special committee on discipline and expulsion established just days earlier to investigate Johnson’s conduct toward GOP Rep. Lynne DiSanto.
DiSanto asked lawmakers to dissolve the panel, saying she accepted a personal apology from Johnson.
“Actions do, however, have consequences, and we privately have talked regarding what some of those consequences might possibly be,” DiSanto said. “I wish Rep. Johnson nothing but the best of luck moving forward, and I would like to publicly say that Rep. Johnson is not just my colleague, but he is my friend.”
The confrontation occurred Wednesday evening on the House floor. Republican Rep. Dan Kaiser, one lawmaker who moved to form the investigative panel last week, told reporters Friday that DiSanto and two witnesses told him Johnson approached DiSanto loudly and with a posture that made her fear being assaulted.
DiSanto said Johnson’s behavior was “unacceptable and unprofessional,” calling it a scary event for her.
House Majority Leader Lee Qualm has previously described the altercation as a “heated argument” after DiSanto and Johnson had discussed insurance legislation.
Johnson told reporters Monday that he and DiSanto are looking forward to effectively working together in the future on a professional and friendly basis. The first-term representative said he was ready to cooperate with the special House committee, but he’s glad that it has been dissolved.
Johnson also apologized publicly to DiSanto Friday on the House floor, saying his emotions got the better of him.
“I have been working with my family on this already. I have been consulting with my religious advisers on this already, and I am truly sorry,” Johnson told the chamber.
Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement that the Highway Patrol requested the Division of Criminal Investigation’s assistance in “reviewing” the matter.
But Jackley noted South Dakota’s constitution states that lawmakers in all cases except “treason, felony or breach of the peace,” are privileged from arrest during the legislative session.