HURON – While he doesn’t fault Gov. Kristi Noem for her decision to move the annual Governor’s Hunt to Sioux Falls next year, former governor and current Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said as a long-time Pierre area resident he is disappointed.
“For me, the Governor’s Hunt was a very special chance to bring folks into the real outdoor spaces,” he said in answer to a reporter’s question on a conference call.
But he said he’s not going to criticize Noem for relocating the hunt, which she believes will attract more business prospects.
Since former Gov. Joe Foss started the hunt many years ago, the event has been all about celebrating the fruits of a good hunt in a casual atmosphere while exposing to visitors what South Dakota has to offer. Economic development has been the underlying goal of it as envisioned by Foss, Rounds said.
He said he understands that Noem wants to promote the state in a convention-type atmosphere in Sioux Falls.
“Most certainly I will miss it being in Pierre and all the work landowners did every year,” Rounds said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
He said now is a good time to thank all those who have made the annual pheasant hunt a special event.
Meanwhile, the senator has joined with Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and others in introducing the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act, a first step in eliminating the Department of Education.
Passage of the legislation would restore state and local control of education by giving them the option of declining participation in the rules of federal education programs while focusing on specific community needs, he said.
There are hundreds of rules and regulations that school boards must abide by, he said.
Allowing them to opt out would give them the opportunity to do a better job, Rounds said.
Asked if it’s the new face of politics when President Trump remarked in an ABC interview that he would listen if a foreign government offered dirt on an opponent, Rounds said no.
“Allowing foreign governments to interfere in American elections is not acceptable, period, end of story,” he said.
Russia absolutely tried to interfere in multiple ways in the 2016 election, but changes were made in cyber security to stop them before it could be done again last year, he said.
“The fact that it was not successful in 2018 is not an accident,” Rounds said.
He said he agrees with the FBI director that if a foreign agent tries to influence the election it should be reported to the FBI.
Will it happen again next year?
“No question that Russia has not stopped,” Rounds said. “Their goal is to undermine democratic values.”
Russian President Putin doesn’t realize that dissension, debate and discussion of different points of view are a healthy part of the democratic process,” he said.
Rounds said Putin must also realize that “we are Americans first, Republicans and Democrats second.”
He also said the Trump administration has been as tough on outside actors as any previous one. Its actions have clearly been to stop foreign influence, he said.
It’s one thing to receive opposition research on a competitor versus receiving opposition or misinformation from agents of a foreign government, he said.
“Most certainly that is not acceptable in our political process,” Rounds said.