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Seiler Understands Gov’t Transparency; Ravnsborg Needs Civic Lesson

Ask Jason Ravnsborg and Randy Seiler about public policy issues, and Jason Ravnsborg proves himself the inferior candidate for Attorney General.

The South Dakota Newspaper Association First Amendment Committee asked Ravnsborg and Seiler to explain how they would get South Dakota’s grade for transparency up to an A. Seiler talked about reviewing our anti-corruption laws and setting clear standards for getting involved in lawsuits:

For Seiler, the road to an A grade goes through a review of public corruption statutes like those found in Initiated Measure 22 and a more transparent standard for involving South Dakota in other state’s lawsuits.

Seiler cited South Dakota’s role in lawsuits to overturn the preexisting conditions provision of the Affordable Care Act and an effort to find the Clean Water Act unconstitutional.

“I don’t know what factors were made or taken into consideration in making that decision,” Seiler said. “It obviously should not be political. There should be standards based on what’s in the best interest of the people of the state of South Dakota” [Dana Hess, “AG Candidates Open to Looking at Transparency Laws,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.08.27].

Reviewing corruption laws, not using lawsuits to make political statements… Seiler cites two reasonable state actions toward transparency.

The wiring from Ravnsborg’s ears to brain to mouth doesn’t work as well:

Jason Ravnsborg, screen cap, KSFY, July 2018
Tool? Yes. Sharp? No.

Getting South Dakota’s grade up to an A, according to Ravnsborg, would take better transparency by the state’s Bar Association so that a list of lawyers who have been disciplined is more readily accessible to the public.

“It is a public record, but there is no good list,” Ravnsborg said. “Why not make a list that’s all in one place?” [Hess, 2018.08.27]

Records of disciplined lawyers? What, did Ravnsborg forget he’s done campaigning against disciplined lawyer Lance Russell for the GOP nomination and is now battling Randy Seiler’s sterling record as a prosecutor?

And the state bar association? How does that link to government transparency?

The Rapid City Journal scratches its head at Ravnsborg’s non sequitur, too:

Attorney General candidate Jason Ravnsborg apparently needs to study civics if he really cares about transparency, an issue that has been elevated in the public discourse after the EB-5 and Gear Up scandals that involved the mishandling of vast sums of money and contributed to the deaths of seven people…. First, the state bar is not a government agency. Second, those scandals mostly involved state and former state employees, not attorneys. Third, what does this have to do with government transparency? Perhaps, Ravnsborg was caught off guard by the question, but it seems he’s given little thought to the issue.[editorial, “Good, Bad, & Ugly: School District’s Volunteer Program a Win-Win for City,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.08.28].

If Ravnsborg wants to publicize bar association actions against naughty lawyers, he could do it himself, couldn’t he? Isn’t he a member of the state bar? Couldn’t he just post the bar’s newsletters or internal memos on his website (or mine! Jason! Send them to Dakota Free Press!) and say, “There, look at all those bad lawyers. Can’t trust ’em further than we can kick ’em!”?

If I thought Jason Ravnsborg was good at this sort of thing, I’d perhaps think that he meant to threaten lawyers who don’t get behind his candidacy. But the simpler interpretation of Ravnsborg’s strange, non-governmental answer to government transparency shows he’s not ready to handle basic questions about public policy, let alone the job of enforcing that policy.


  1. 96Tears 2018-08-29

    Chad Haber and Jason Ravnsborg are the worst nominees for the office of S.D. Attorney General in the last 100 years. Both are self-conceited political hotdogs who think they’re a lot more impressive than they actually are. Nonetheless, voter behavior of the last 20 years leads us to expect Ravnsborg will win handily only because he has an R next to his name.

    It’s tempting to bash the SDGOP for nominating a turkey like Ravnsborg when the phone book is full of attorneys who are much better suited for the job of AG. The real shame belongs to the general election voters in South Dakota for not bothering the learn the difference between Randy Seiler and a hotdog. In any other state, Democrats have a huge opportunity to sweep the statehouse over a GOP ticket that is so underwhelming and prone to corruption.

  2. mike from iowa 2018-08-29

    96Tears, you know you can’t spell corruption without at least a couple of Rs. Crony needs one R for sure. Graft-the same.

    Oversight requires one R but wingnuts are fresh out when it comes time to take responsibility.

  3. Donald Pay 2018-08-29

    An area that needs to be reviewed is using settlement agreements to engage in semi-hidden corruption. The EPA-South Dakota-Agnico Eagle Mines Superfund corruption needs to be halted, investigated and the perps jailed. I’m sure there are other similar instances where there are these sweet-heart legal devises that are a subterfuge for legalized corruption.

  4. Rorschach 2018-08-29

    How can a major party candidate for AG not even know that the state bar is not a government agency?! Rvnsbrg the inexperienced hobby lawyer doesn’t understand even basic facts about his own profession.

    Here’s one way the AG should facilitate transparency. Publish a list of money and property obtained through civil forfeitures including who it was seized from. Then publish a list of how the money is spent. This money doesn’t go through the state budget. It’s a slush fund in the AG’s office.

  5. bearcreekbat 2018-08-29

    It is my understanding that findings by the State Bar of serious ethical violations are already made public through public reprimands, license suspensions, and disbarment. The matters that are kept confidential include private reprimands for less serious issues that are found not to adversely affect the public or public interest, unsubstantiated complaints, and similar proceedings where no wrongdoing or serious ethical violations are found. Thus, it seems a bit unclear exactly what or why Ravnsborg wants published – unsubstantiated allegations or private reprimands (since either could be used to improperly impugn the reputation of competent or innocent attorneys) or both?

    That said, disciplne of attorneys by the State bar is not a private matter. It is governed by state law. See SDCL ch 16-19

  6. Dicta 2018-08-29

    I finally get to say something negative about Ravnsborg: he should avoid public debates like the plague because he consistently says dumb stuff and has the charm of a school bus fire.

  7. Kelly 2018-08-29

    Hard to believe we could be electing our first gay government official. Everyone knows he is.

  8. Dicta 2018-08-29

    Ravnsborg? That is 100% false, and I know it.

  9. Kelly 2018-08-29

    Dicta: he is. It’s common knowledge in Sioux Falls. The only women he associates with are older women who have lost their husbands. The youngest would be around 65-70 years old.

  10. Dicta 2018-08-29

    Not that it matters, but I am quite close with a woman he had a relationship with. He isn’t gay. Really not sure why it matters, though.

  11. Rorschach 2018-08-29

    “What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Hitchens’s Razor

    On the other hand, Kelly may be gay and looking for a date. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Try Club David, Kelly.

  12. Anne Beal 2018-08-29

    I thought it was funny that Seer brought up EB-5 and GEAR-UP when he was the US Attorney who dropped the ball pnboth of them.
    He got that job when Brendan Johnson resigned in March 2015.
    In June 2015 the FBI completed the investigation into EB-5, submitted the report to the US Attorney’s office, and ….nothing.
    In September 2015 The GEAR-UP matter blew up, and a whole lot of federal money for Indian kids was gone forever. Federal money. Indian kids. And what did the US Attorney do? Nothing.

    But he wants to regulate our drainage ditches. Great. It’s bad enough the property owner has to pay taxes on the land, keep them mowed and free of obstruction, gets blamed for leafy spurge, but isn’t allowed to keep the asparagus for himself, and we have a candidate for AG who wants to regulate the water, too. I want an AG who will defend the property rights of the landowner, I want the asparagus AND the water. It’s mine, I bought it, I pay taxes on it, it’s mine.

    As far as his concern about insurance coverage of pre-existing medical conditions: when your deductible is $6000/year, it doesn’t matter whether you have coverage for pre-existing conditions or not, your insurance company isn’t going to pay for it. So now everybody has insurance that doesn’t pay for anything, being told that you should be happy you have coverage for your pre-existing condition isn’t comforting When you have an acute illness. You just feel like crap and your insurance isnt going to pay for it. That’s all you know and it’s all you care about.

  13. Jenny 2018-08-30

    I’m glad you are not putting it against Ravnsborg that he’s gay, a lot of Pubs would.

    Do you remember when health insurance was cheap in the private sector? No, neither do I.
    That is why the majority of Americans are fed up and are finally supporting Medicare for all.

  14. Jenny 2018-08-30

    The above was addressed to Anne

  15. bearcreekbat 2018-08-30

    Anne, do you think that perhaps one would be happy with a $6,000 deductible if his or her child needed a heart, lung or kidney transplant based upon a pre-existing condition (or otherwise), which like so many other procedures costs a bit more thatn $6,000?

  16. mike from iowa 2018-08-30

    Does Medicare cover Transplants?

    Medicare does partially cover heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, intestine, liver transplant, bone marrow, and cornea transplants if you are qualified. The actual transplant is covered by Original Medicare Part A, and you would still owe Part A deductible $1,340 and possible coinsurance, and transplant immunosuppressive drugs are covered by Part B, you will owe Part B deductible ($183), copays, and coinsurance.

    One of the major benefits of being enrolled in Original Medicare is you utilize any facility or transplant doctor in the nation that accepts assignment.
    Does Medigap Cover Transplants?

    Most Medigap plans will pay part or all of your Transplant costs, Part A deductible $1,340 (Medigap Plan A does not), and all Medigap cover all or part of your Part B copays and coinsurance to cover your transplant immunosuppressive drugs, however only Medigap C and F will also cover your Part B deductible ($183).

    One of the major benefits of Medigap is it works with Original Medicare’s nationwide network.

  17. Jenny 2018-08-30

    I will gladly and proudly pay more taxes so everybody can have Medicare, a very popular government healthcare program that Seniors are very satisfied with. But we can’t have that since Republicans are too selfish. God tells them tax cuts for the very wealthy and wars are more important.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-31

    Again, hilarious that Anne’s party poo-pooed Democrats’ concerns about EB-5 and GEAR UP corruption in the last two elections but now feigns concern when Jason Ravnsborg offers her no other issues or qualifications on which to justify her R vote.

  19. Ryan 2018-08-31

    BCB is (again) one of the only people who pays attention.

    Jason is wrong, lawyer discipline is far from a “public record.”

    From our state bar: “Disciplinary proceedings are confidential until they reach the point where the Disciplinary Board or the Attorney General files formal charges at the direction of the Supreme Court. Confidentiality is maintained because the complaint against the lawyer usually arises out of confidential transactions with a client. Also, unfair publicity could result if the complaint were found to lack substance.”

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-01

    That’s funny: Jason Ravnsborg doesn’t want publicity about the trial in which he’s defending an angry dad’s frivolous allegations against a law enforcement officer, but he’ll advocate opening the lawyer discipline process which his own bar association says could result in unfair publicity that would affect clients’ rights.

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