Hartford City Leader Under Email Investigation
Council President Johnson resigns amid email controversy
A Hartford city council member has resigned and could face charges after residents say he altered an email he received in December.
An investigation is being conducted by the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office following that meeting last month.
Tuesday morning, Council President, Doyle Johnson submitted his letter of resignation to the city administrator.
Jeremy Menning and other members of the, ‘Growing Hartford Committee,’ were outraged, and soon asked for assistance from Captain Mike Walsh.
“He [Johnson] read this email and the words that were read, we knew, none of us could have written them,” recalled Menning.
The original email sent to Johnson was sent by a frustrated citizen who asked for him to step down. But what was read, which included explicative dialogue and derogatory comments about Johnson’s special needs son, was allegedly doctored.
“When he finished reading the email, he put his phone down and he looked at everybody in the room and he said, ‘And shame on you,'” said Menning.
So, they went to the sheriff’s office.
“They made a report,” said Captain Walsh, “they provided documentation, and from there an investigation was started.”
But before it was complete, Johnson resigned. Which, Councilman Bill Haugen believes brings forth more issues.
“We no longer are bale to have a quorum,” said Haugen.
In November, two other city council members stepped down after controversy erupted over a petition to recall Mayor Bill Campbell.
“So, I’m not really sure where we go from here,” added Haugen.
As for Johnson, Walsh says there’s a chance for legal action.
“In this case there are two or three, different charges that are possible,” said Walsh.
Under South Dakota law (22-11-23), any person who knowingly makes a false entry in any public record, or falsely alters any public record is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor. But for Menning, all he wanted is to have loyal officials running Hartford.
“All I want is good people that want to be on the council are there and the right things start to happen.”
Once the investigation is complete it will be handed over to the State Attorney’s Office. The next Hartford city council election is not until April.
A Hartford resolution passed in 2007 allows the city finance office to conduct business despite the council not having quorum.