South Dakota Democratic Party leadership resigns amid financial struggles

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Democratic Party chair Paula Hawks and executive director Stacey Burnette resigned from their positions on Wednesday, KELOLAND News has confirmed.

The two have only served for a few months. This latest development comes amid a Federal Election Commission report showing the party has a negative balance in the bank and $47,000 in debts.

Burnette was only on the job since August. Hawks has served as the elected chair since March.

KELOLAND News spoke with vice-chair Randy Seiler on Wednesday. He said according to the party’s constitution, he is now in charge. Seiler didn’t give a reason for the resignations.

“The South Dakota Democratic Party is bigger than any one or two individuals; we’re collectively a group of thousands of South Dakotans that believe in the Democratic ideal,” he said.

Seiler said the party will focus on getting Democratic candidates elected and deal with the issues at hand.

“We are going to continue to work hard to move the party forward to deal with issues regarding our finances, our debts, to put in place stringent financial requirements and accounting, checks and balances,” Seiler said.

Hawks previously said the financial situation was unexpected to the new administration and executive director.

“Unfortunately, there has clearly been a lack of oversight in the financial management of SDDP,” Hawks said in August. “Moving forward, this new administration has and will continue to ensure accuracy in our reporting at all levels.”

Seiler was also elected to his position in the spring. Previously, Seiler was the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota appointed under President Barack Obama.

“I just think it’s important that Democracy works best when there are two, at least two vibrant parties and we’re going to work hard in South Dakota and we’re going to continue to advance the Democratic party to give the voters of South Dakota an appropriate and prudent choice when they go to the polls,” Seiler said.

This is a developing story.