Garrett DeVries, the Canistota, South Dakota, native charged with stealing a historic state flag from the office of the South Dakota secretary of state and taking it to Washington, D.C., has been put on leave by the Republican research firm there where he works.
DeVries, 26, has been ordered to appear in state court in Pierre on Nov. 23 on the misdemeanor theft charge.
The result of a criminal investigation begun this spring, the Class 1 misdemeanor charge of theft in the first degree stems from Secretary of State Shantel Krebs noting, as she took office in early January, that the flag was missing.
The flag was made in 1909 as the state’s first official flag and has been a historical treasure since subsequent flag designs took its place.
According to a state criminal investigator, DeVries had told people he took the flag while working for Secretary of State Jason Gant before leaving his job there in November 2013. After working for a time for Greg Jamison running his campaign to be elected mayor of Sioux Falls, DeVries took a job in Washington.
Last month, DeVries admitted to the investigator he had it in Washington and had taken it because he thought it was “cool,” according to the investigator’s affidavit of probable cause.
DeVries has been working for America Rising LLC, a firm based near Washington in Arlington, Virginia, which does “opposition” research on Democratic political candidates which is sold to Republican clients. DeVries has been mentioned in news accounts as filming an appearance by Hillary Clinton this spring in New Hampshire for Republican candidates.
On Wednesday, after the Capital Journal asked America Rising about DeVries, America Rising spokesman Jeff Bechdel said via email: “Garrett has been placed on leave pending the outcome of his hearing.”
America Rising LLC is an affiliate of America Rising PAC that raises money for Republican causes.
DeVries grew up on a farm near Canistota and graduated from the University of South Dakota. He’s been active as a campaign promoter for Republicans in the state. He’s living in Washington, D.C., according to court documents, and attorney David Palmer in Sioux Falls is defending him.
Palmer did not return messages Wednesday from the Capital Journal.