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Val Rausch, South Dakota House Speaker, Two Legislative Leaders Stop Knife-Wielding Man In Bar

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SD LEGISLATORS BAR FIGHT
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The speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives and two of his top deputies stopped a knife wielding man at a bar in Fort Pierre, S.D., following a banquet for a conservative legislative group.

The Rapid City Journal reported that the three legislators stepped in when an allegedly drunk bar patron, Mark Bardwell, approached a female legislator at the bar on Friday night. The man pulled a knife after House Speaker Val Rausch (R) sat next to the female legislator.

Lust, the House majority leader, confronted the man about the knife. The man put the knife back in its sheath and then took a swing at Rep. Val Rausch (R-Big Stone City).

"Then the melee was on," Lust said. "Myself and several others tackled him and held him down until the police arrived."

Rausch was not hit. "I dodged it," he said. The men, including one non-legislator, tackled the man. Rausch said the man was strong, and it took at least four of them to bring him down.

"I think he just flipped out," Rausch said. "For whatever reason, he thought we were somebody we weren't -- a biker gang, or something."

House Speaker Pro Temp Brian Gosch (R-Rapid City) was cut in the finger as she assisted in tackling Bardwell during the fight.

The leaders had gone to the bar the day before a pheasant hunt for the American Legislative Exchange Council. The hunt was to raise funds for local legislators to attend ALEC events.

ALEC has been in the news following reports of the group pushing over 800 pieces of model legislation around the county, including bills relating to voters' rights. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has called for investigations into the voting rights bills -- which include a proposal to end same-day voter registration and voter registration drives.

This is the not the first time state lawmakers have had issues with bars this year. In August, a group of bars around Michigan came together to block lawmakers from entering to protest the state's indoor smoking ban in the state.

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