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Lawmaker: Capitol is a workplace and people should feel safe

February 28, 2018

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota lawmaker who feared for her safety in a recent confrontation with a colleague at the Capitol said Tuesday that she hopes Republican legislative leadership will take a “more serious look” at such allegations in the future.

GOP Rep. Lynne DiSanto said the Capitol is her workplace, and everybody should be able to come to work there and feel safe. State representatives started an investigation into Republican Rep. David Johnson’s conduct toward DiSanto but voted Monday to end it with her support.

“I would hope that as a caucus and that Republican leadership here in Pierre will, moving forward, take a more serious look at these type of allegations when they occur,” said DiSanto, who has accepted an apology from Johnson.

The confrontation occurred last week on the House floor. The House speaker on Tuesday released security footage of the altercation.

The video that didn’t have audio shows a heated one-minute verbal exchange between DiSanto and Johnson. Johnson approaches DiSanto several times during the confrontation, at times stepping away, before House Majority Leader Lee Qualm intervenes.

Johnson told the Argus Leader newspaper that he was glad the footage was shared so it could clear up some comments that were “blown out of proportion.”

GOP Rep. Elizabeth May, who witnessed the incident, said the video is missing Johnson’s profanity and “rage.” DiSanto described his behavior as aggressive and frightening.

Speaker Mark Mickelson said in a statement that he shared the short clip to be as “transparent as possible.” A Public Safety Department spokesman previously cited a public records law exemption to deny reporters the footage.


This story has been corrected to show that it was DiSanto who described Johnson’s behavior as aggressive and frightening, not May.

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