The local news outlets and the blogosphere are abuzz with news that the Mayo Clinic has hired former Congressman Bill Janklow as a consultant. Kevin Wooster at the Rapid City Journal has this:
Former U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow confirmed Friday that he is working as a consultant with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to fight a controversial expansion plan by the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad that would increase rail traffic past the world-renowned clinic.
Janklow has rarely spoken to reporters since resigning from his first term in Congress after a vehicle-related manslaughter conviction in 2003. But he engaged in a fiery exchange with DM&E president Kevin Schieffer of Sioux Falls, after Schieffer charged that the former governor was working to kill the $2.5 billion project as a paid consultant after previously supporting it as governor.
“Personally, I think it’s a sell-out to the people of South Dakota, who would really benefit from this project, as he (Janklow) acknowledged earlier,” Schieffer said Friday afternoon. “I just hope he gets a lot of silver for it.”
Janklow denied that he was trying to kill the project. He also slammed Schieffer and DM&E for “running roughshod over people” and taking advantage of a specially crafted federal loan program rather than find loans in the private sector.
“I’ve always believed in the concept of this project. I have never believed in the integrity of Kevin Schieffer,” Janklow said. “This project is a great concept. But you don’t have to accomplish it by running roughshod over people and putting sick and terribly ill people at risk, like there will be at Mayo Clinic.”
So far the articles I have seen fail to mention Tom Daschle's involvement. From MarshallRadio.net, in Minnesota:
Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle says his appointment to the Mayo Clinic's board of directors would not put him at odds with the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad's coal train project.
Daschle says he was just elected to the Mayo board about a week ago and has never discussed the coal train issue with clinic officials.
The Sioux Falls-based railroad wants to link eastern Wyoming coal fields with Midwestern power plants by building new track to the coal fields and upgrading its existing line across South Dakota and southern Minnesota. The line runs through Rochester, Minnesota, and near the clinic, and Mayo has been opposed to that expansion.
There have been few facts and lots of rumors: Janklow doesn’t like Pressler. Janklow hates Schieffer. Janklow doesn’t like Abdnor. Janklow opposes Thune. Now, Janklow may run against Rounds. Could someone explain all of this?
I hereby oblige. The fact that Congressman Janklow has accepted this job and the fact that he does not intend to seek office again, or at least not in South Dakota, are reciprocal. The first confirms the second because the second helps explain the first. If the former Congressman and Governor had any intentions of running again in the Rushmore State, it would be a very silly thing to accept a job that puts him, at least in appearance, in opposition to the interests of that state. I infer that he does not anticipate having to win any more elections in South Dakota.
Tom Daschle may well have political ambitions, but they do not include South Dakota. If they did, Daschle would have moved back to the state, and would have resigned his position on the Mayo Board as soon as it became clear that that position and South Dakota's perceived interests were in conflict. If Daschle does run for President, it is unlikely that this former state's three electoral votes will be available to him, or if they are, that they will matter.
Bill Janklow and Tom Daschle are two extraordinary men, regardless of what you think about the one or the other. It says a lot about the resources of the state that their careers were forged here. But lets face it: both of them have moved on. I have heard that they are close friends. If so, Daschle may well have had a hand in bringing Janklow on board. I don't think there is anything surprising about this. Its an old story that people grow up and leave South Dakota.