DCI Director Dave Natvig, among two declared Republicans seeking the soon-to-be open attorney general position, told the Argus Leader this week that if his candidacy is successful, he will not hire outgoing Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
“He will not be employed by either the attorney general’s office or the Division of Criminal Investigation,” said Natvig in hopes of dispelling rumors to the contrary that have swirled in South Dakota political circles ahead of the convention [Joe Sneve, “DCI Director Running for South Dakota Attorney General Says He Won’t Hire Jason Ravnsborg,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.06.15].
Natvig’s consignment of Ravnsborg to the dustbin of unhirability is a bit more direct than the sidestepping he gave Stu Whitney Monday in response to a question about whether he might appoint Ravnsborg to anything:
In a phone interview with News Watch on June 13, Natvig didn’t rule out any appointment scenarios but dismissed the notion that his candidacy for attorney general is linked to Ravnsborg’s future.
“First off, I’m not a politician,” said Natvig, a 56-year-old Kimball native who served as Brule County State’s Attorney from 2003-2019 while also practicing civil law. “I’m going into this race with the attitude that I don’t owe political favors to anyone. I would not make any promises to anyone about anything” [Stu Whitney, “Attorney General IntrigueL Future Roles Uncertain for Jackley, Natvig—and Ravnsborg,” South Dakota News Watch, 2022.06.14].
Natvig is definitely a politician (and his Monday dodge and Wednesday change of message amke him sound like one), but he’s not much of a police officer. Unlike the six previous directors of the Division of Criminal Investigation, David Natvig was never a police officer before becoming the top cop in the DCI shop. Whitney notes that Natvig still is not a certified law enforcement officer. Natvig has his DCI job solely because he backed Ravnsborg (who was never much of a lawyer before he became Attorney General) to the hilt in 2018 and Ravnsborg repaid him with patronage. Now even that debt isn’t big enough to outweigh the risk Natvig quite wisely sees in letting anyone think that he’d give his best friend in Pierre, the man who killed Joe Boever, a job.
The candidate endorsed by the past five far more law-enforcement-experienced DCI directors, former Attorney General Marty Jackley, unsurprisingly agrees with Natvig that Ravnsborg has no place in the Attorney General’s office come 2023, but he responds more directly that Natvig’s going to be out of a job as well:
“I am not participating in the plans of Jason Ravnsborg and David Natvig, nor am I going to do or say anything which may impact the Senate impeachment trial,” said Jackley, who served as attorney general from 2009 and 2019. “If blessed with the opportunity, I will hire an experienced, certified law enforcement officer as director of DCI and will try to hire the very best for our team” [Sneve, 2022.06.15].
Ravnsborg has already acknowledged his time in government and South Dakota politics is over. Maybe Natvig should read Jackley’s comment and all the other writing on the wall and do the same: withdraw his candidacy, direct his delegates to nominate Jackley by acclamation next week, then start cleaning out his desk in Pierre, head back into private practice, and hope everyone forgets his brief slurp at the trough of Jason Ravnsborg’s patronage.