The Public Utilities Commission yesterday officially approved the settlement under which Jeremey Frost of Fearless Grain Marketing will pay a $20,000 for illegally purchasing grain without a license. But Frost couldn’t let the settlement go without making more excuses for his lawbreaking:
Commissioner Gary Hanson questioned why the Onida man continued to buy grain from producers after PUC staff warned that he needed a license.
“It wasn’t done necessarily on purpose. It was one big contract,” Frost said. He added, “We had a large contract that an employee for me did. It took longer than I realized” [Bob Mercer, “Frost Says He Continued to Buy Grain Without License Because a Contract Had to Be Fulfilled,” KELO-TV, 2021.05.25].
Wasn’t done on purpose? Um, what, Mr. Frost: did you accidentally buy the grain? Did you accidentally sign the contract? Did you accidentally refuse to obtain the license the PUC told you multiple times you had to have before doing your business?
And since when does having a contract give you license to break the law? If I sign a contract with a Pierre customer promising to deliver a truckload of goods by noon Friday but I don’t roll out of bed and get on the road until 10 a.m., I’m not going to get out of my speeding ticket on Highway 87 by showing the trooper my contract.
Any contract Frost had with buyers had to include the assumption, if not the explicit provision, that Frost would obtain a grain buyer’s license from the PUC and fulfill his contractual obligations legally. Any provision commanding Frost to buy grain without a license would nullify that contract under South Dakota law:
A contract provision contrary to an express provision of law or to the policy of express law, though not expressly prohibited or otherwise contrary to good morals, is unlawful [SDCL 53-9-1].
Just admit your wrongdoing, Mr. Frost: you signed a contract, then failed to take the steps necessary to legally fulfill that contract. Such an admission sounds a lot better than making weak excuses for breaking the law.