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Seiler to File Ethics Complaint Against Ravnsborg Today

In his speech at the Brown County Democratic Party’s picnic in Aberdeen yesterday, attorney general candidate Randy Seiler said he plans to file a complaint against his opponent, Jason Ravnsborg, with the Government Accountability Board.

Seiler’s complaint stems from Ravnsborg’s illegal and unethical use of public resources to support his political campaign. On Sunday, September 2, Ravnsborg used a Department of Public Safety canine demonstration as an opportunity to take the stage and promote his bid for attorney general. Two days later, DPS Secretary Trevor Jones admitted that allowing Ravnsborg to take that stage was “a lapse in judgment” and apologized. Ravnsborg has neither apologized nor retracted the photos from the event that he continues to circulate on social media to boost his campaign.

The Government Accountability Board is somewhat hard to get a hold of and hear from. The state’s website lists no contact information for its members. The Attorney General lists a phone number one can call to ask questions about the GAB, but complaints must be sent to P.O. Box 2282 in Sioux Falls. The GAB holds its hearings in closed session and only issues an annual report that, in its first iteration, told us very little about the new board’s activities.

The GAB has fifteen business days to respond to Seiler’s complaint and notify Ravnsborg thereof. Ravnsborg would then have at least fifteen working days to respond, maybe more if he requests it. If the GAB recommends that DCI investigate, that investigation must be completed within 180 days of the initial complaint, with no more than two 60-day extensions.

In other words, expect the investigation into Ravnsborg’s violation of campaign finance law to swirl into a black hole of bureaucracy until maybe next May, well after the election is over.

The GAB is part of the pale replacement the 2017 Legislature offered us to make us feel better after Republicans repealed Initiated Measure 22, which would have sicced a much tougher state ethics commission on ethical lapsers like Ravnsborg. Amendment W, which is on our ballot this fall, would cancel the GAB and restore the state ethics commission we asked for but which Ravnsborg and the Republicans fear. But Amendment W wouldn’t take effect until July 1, 2019, so the GAB has time to process Seiler’s complaint against Ravnsborg.


  1. Nick Nemec 2018-09-10

    This Government Accountability Board sounds like a typical South Dakota solution, sweep everything under the rug, allow plenty of time for “study” and eventually it will go away. Time heals all wounds.

  2. Jason 2018-09-10

    Does the law cover Seiler taking a photo with Tribal police?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-10

    Randy Seiler knows enough about the law to answer that question. Jason Ravnsborg does not.

  4. Darin Larson 2018-09-10

    Jason swings and misses once again.

  5. grudznick 2018-09-10

    Mr. H, in that same web page is a link I found that lists the complaint procedure and says you should call 605-367-5880 and ask the operator for extension 103.

  6. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2018-09-10

    The GAB was the Republican answer to IM22, right? And didn’t some of the Democrats on the ballot this fall support that watered down Republican answer as opposed to continually fighting for IM22 in the courts?



  7. JKC 2018-09-10

    “Saw?”…. “Say!”. ;-)

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-10

    Yes, JKC, you are correct. GAB was created by 2017 HB 1076, which was primed by Rep. Karen Soli (D-15/Sioux Falls) and supported by Sutton and other Dems in cooperation with Mickelson and Brock Greenfield. They heard it in committee, voted on it, and passed it after the Republicans killed IM 22. One may excuse Democrats who supported the GAB this way: unable to stop the IM 22 repeal, we could at least get our foot in the door with something like the ethics commission we’d fought for for years. Is the GAB something better than nothing? That’s open for debate. But I can understand why Democrats would have taken advantage of the uproar over the IM 22 repeal and the GOP’s desire for cover therefrom to try to salvage some good.

    However, I am just as open to the argument that a harder fight was in order.

  9. Kelly 2018-09-10

    Ravnsborg is in no way capable of being Attorney General. The real question is why do they (establishment GOP) want him in office. We all know, to make sure the skeletons stay locked in the closet.

  10. Rorschach 2018-09-10

    My question, which should be answered soon enough is, how many former Attorneys General of SD will cross party lines and endorse Randy Seiler? My guess is 3, but I certainly don’t have any insider information at all.

  11. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2018-09-10

    2017 HB 1076 legitimized the GOP in South Dakota at the expense of the people and the Democratic Party. It embolden the GOP as well, but for no true policy that made our state better.

    Many years ago (2004), the Republicans claimed that Democrats were “too French.” That was back when the GOP thought they could successfully fight the war on terrorism by changing the name of “French Fries” to “Freedom Fries,” too, and they claimed that John Kerry personally sounded and looked “too French,” too. Well, to take a page from the GOP playbook, if there is any truth to this “too French” thing when it comes to Democrats, then it is time that we as Democrats in South Dakota could at least started to be de Gaulle Frenchmen and not Vichy Frenchmen, and started to challenge our GOP friends instead of appeasing them…

  12. mike from iowa 2018-09-10

    JKC Sr. I have always contended that were it not for some timely French intervention in the American Revolution Americans would be speaking an entirely different English dialect, Guvnuh.

  13. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2018-09-10


    Absolutely, the history of the American Revolution is further proof that “it takes a village,” and sometimes a global one at that…

    And though one could argue that Democrats and Republicans always working together on everything might suggest that “village,” working together really means working to effect positive change for the many and not just the image of change for the sake of the empowered, however. And when some capitulate, when working together, the village no longer matters nor its inhabitants, rather it all becomes just folly for the mighty powerful few.

  14. Francis Schaffer 2018-09-10

    Are you suggesting the Republicans are taking a page out of the Catholic bishop’s playbook?

  15. Jason 2018-09-10


    Does Seiler know abut the Federal money paid to the Tribal police?

    Do you know the Federal election laws as a State candidate?

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-11

    So Jason, just to be clear, even if you can stick Seiler with some violation (knock yourself out! File a complaint!), you’re conceding that Ravnsborg clearly violated state law and possibly federal law if we connect the dots between the K9 event, DPS, and federal money?

  17. Jason 2018-09-11

    I don’t see how talking to people at a State fair is using State money.

  18. Darin Larson 2018-09-11

    Yes, Jason, next year we can have the Republican sponsored DPS safety day at the fair where Republican candidates show up to campaign at taxpayer funded events. I mean it’s just people talking to people.

    So, Jason, let me ask you this: Is Trevor Jones going to be hired as head of DCI by Ravnsborg in the event that Ravnsborg is elected AG? If so, how does it look for a public official at a taxpayer funded event to allow his boss-to-be to campaign at the taxpayer funded event?

  19. Debbo 2018-09-11

    Good for Seiler.
    So stick it to the SDGOP with Amendment W.

  20. Jason 2018-09-11

    I’m not an election law expert or even novice. Is it worse to break Federal election laws or State election laws?

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-13

    Jason has failed to respond to the substance of the complaint against Ravnsborg and the DPS. Claiming vaguely that someone else could end up in a bigger jail does not refute the fact that Ravnsborg may deserve to spend some time of his own in jail. Seiler is right about Ravnsborg. The DPS behaved corruptly, and Ravnsborg happily accepted their corrupt offer to use a public event organized by state officials working on state time to campaign for political office.

    Jason, while you’re just playing dense, I’ll remind everyone that your timid underportrayal of the Ravnsborg/DPS incident far understates what happened. Put it this way: suppose a public school hosts a band concert. The public school invites me to introduce the acts. I take the mic and say, “Hi, I’m running for Senate. I love music and musicians, so vote for me this November. And now, some Ravel….” The school does not provide equal time to my opponent. The audience had no idea the school would be hosting political speech. That’s a donation of public resources to benefit a political campaign. That’s illegal and unethical.

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