Watertown, SD — District 5 State Senator Neal Tapio has filed an official complaint with the South Dakota State Bar Association over what he said is unethical behavior by one of their members. In a letter dated Saturday afternoon, and without naming a name, but in obvious reference to former state legislator and Watertown attorney Lee Schoenbeck, Tapio asked for a formal opinion regarding what he said was unethical behavior on the part of the Watertown attorney. His complaints are based on what Tapio said were continued posts on a public comment section of a statewide blog. Those comments, Tapio said, were untrue regarding Tapio’s qualifications to serve as an elected official from Watertown. Tapio states that Schoenbeck repeatedly states that he, Tapio, resides in Rapid City and not Watertown and is therefore not qualified to represent District 5 at Watertown.
Schoenbeck responded this morning saying that Tapio, “doesn’t live here and that he actually lives in Rapid City and visits Watertown often enough to claim to be a resident.” Schoenbeck continued saying, “When Neal Tapio called our (Watertown) community recreation center a “socialist palace” I thought he made it clear he wasn’t part of the community.” He continued with his statement saying, “When he (Tapio) goes on his anti-religion rants, he made it clear he doesn’t respect the Constitution.” Schoenbeck says he personally has broad shoulders and that he’d rather have Tapio attack him than the innocent people he regularly attacks and the community of Watertown that he says he so dearly seems to enjoy embarrassing.
Test of letter of below
Dear South Dakota Bar Association President,
As an elected official from Watertown, SD, I am asking for your formal opinion regarding the unethical behavior of an active member of the South Dakota State Bar Association. A former elected official and trial attorney from Watertown routinely and continually posts on the public comment sections of a highly prestigious and well-read statewide blog untrue statements regarding my qualifications to serve as a legitimate elected official from Watertown. Specifically, this attorney has repeatedly claimed I do not reside in Watertown, but rather Rapid City. Having known this individual (and his lovely wife), and spoken to him many times, I have continuously reached out to him over the past year, inviting him to my house on many occasions. He has repeatedly refused to accept my invitations, which I have issued via text message, in order to prove my actual address. Further, I have invited him to tour my business warehouse in Watertown, and my business office, which I have also kept in Watertown for the last 5 years. This individual has refused to accept all of my invitations. Further, I am aware of this attorney telling nearly a dozen people this same concocted story about whether I live in Watertown. Along with several other politically motivated people from Watertown and around the state, this individual has helped propagate this easily provable false story. During my election, I was asked this very question nearly a half dozen times by KXLG news director, David J Law. (The owner of KXLG was actively supporting my opponent) Within the last six months, I invited David Law to my house and we had a nice time discussing my residence and other issues which concern me greatly. Mr. Law even commented that my house was so clean that it doesn’t seem that I live there. I had to show him my clothes closets before he finally believed me. Imagine, having to go to such great lengths to prove such a silly story. Please advise me as to the process of making a formal request for an ethics investigation into an attorney who willfully spreads verifiably false information against a public elected official. If I can provide documentation this attorney continually refuses to see evidence disproving his scurrilous allegations, and continually and willfully spreads false information, would this active member of your organization be in violation of your code of ethical conduct? Would your organization consider disbarment due to this egregious conduct or would a reprimand and public apology be simply an option your organization would entertain? Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. With Kindest Regards, Neal Tapio District 5 State Senator Watertown, SD