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Noem’s Best Picks for Interim Attorney General: Tracy? Vargo? Jackley? Seiler?

Thanks to the South Dakota Senate’s historic and just vote yesterday to convict, remove, and forever disqualify Jason Ravnsborg, the office of Attorney General is now vacant. Ravnsborg’s kakistocratic incompetence had left it vacant de facto since his inauguration, but the office is now vacant de jure. Governor Kristi Noem (who leaves her own office vacant most of the time, but that’s another issue) thus finally gets to appoint (per SD Const. Article 4 Section 3) an Attorney General to serve the remaining six months and change of the current term.

Whom should she pick?

A governor seeking the best lawyer in the state to serve as the top lawyer in the state would pick either Alexis Tracy or Mark Vargo. Tracy and Vargo co-prosecuted the Senate impeachment trial. They pounded Ravnsborg’s actions and integrity with their opening and closing statements yesterday. More importantly, they built a case that convinced Republican Senators to remove a Republican Attorney General. I say anyone who can convince South Dakota Republicans to do the right thing deserves a medal, not to mention an appointment to higher office.

But I hate to deprive Clay and Pennington counties of their excellent state’s attorneys. Having spent two months preparing for this historic and difficult trial, Tracy and Vargo probably want to just get back to their respective courthouses and catch up on the backlog of county cases requiring their attention, not bail completely from their county offices and spend six more months in Pierre managing the Attorney General’s office through a sudden and surely complicated clean-up period. Tracy and Vargo may be too smart and too dedicated to honest lawyering to entangle themselves further in state government politics. And even though I am entirely confident that neither Tracy nor Vargo took on the politically fraught task of prosecuting Jason Ravnsborg to secure higher office (there are far less politically fraught ways to curry favor in the party than impeaching one of the party’s own members), I suspect their own ethical sense would prevent them from accepting an appointment that could sully the justice of this impeachment with an appearance of self-interest—hey, you get Jason Ravnsborg fired, then you take his job? That’s not cool!

With those two top prosecutors off the table, where else can the Governor turn for an effective top state prosecutor? The practical choice is the last man who did the job, Marty Jackley. Governor Noem and most of South Dakota’s law enforcement community have already said Jackley should do the job again. Jackley is probably better prepared than anyone else in South Dakota to walk into the office today, know where things are, know where things should be, and which thumb-twiddling Ravnsborg flunkies need to be fired right now.

But Noem has faced political blowback (and Ravnsborg’s defense team wanly waved this red flag yesterday) for the perception that she was pushing impeachment just so she could rush her own pick for Attorney General into place and insulate herself from corruption investigations. Noem’s resounding ker-whalloping of Steve Haugaard in the primary suggests she doesn’t have much to worry about from the political malcontents on her side of the aisle peddling that line, and she shouldn’t have to lift too many fingers, let alone flunkies from her state staff, to use her millions in out-of-state money to beat Web-witty Democratic candidate Jamie Smith in November. But if Noem wants to completely tamp down any lingering angst over her alleged politicization of impeachment and the Attorney General’s office, she could appoint the next-most ready man to do the job of Attorney General in South Dakota: Randy Seiler.

Like Jackley, Seiler was a U.S. Attorney, the chief federal prosecutor in South Dakota, managing a whole team of lawyers and multiple government prosecutions. Seiler ran for Attorney General in 2018 against Ravnsborg. Seiler is now chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party. Seiler is willing to run for Attorney General again, but he has said he will not run against Marty Jackley.

By appointing Seiler, a Democrat, today to be Attorney General for the remainder of Ravnsborg’s vacated term, Noem would achieve multiple objectives:

  1. She would declare to her party faithful that she is not attempting to put her thumb on their nominating decision this weekend between Marty Jackley and Ravnsborg crony David Natvig (whose days in South Dakota politics, like anyone else saddled with the tag of Ravnsborg Man, are numbered).
  2. She would defuse any argument opponents might make that she wanted a political crony in the AG’s office to prevent investigations into her own corruption.
  3. She would appoint a Democrat without giving a Democratic nominee an incumbency leg up, because the Democratic nominee will not be Seiler (unless Seiler breaks his word, which would not be healthy politically).
  4. She would disarray the Democratic Party again, pulling its chairman out of his partisan gig just as the party heads into the general election.
  5. She would score points with casual independent voters, who would see her playing bipartisanship.
  6. And if we’d like to really reach: Noem could play to Seiler’s sense of professional ethics and civic duty by charging him with serving as an effective interim attorney general who will focus on cleaning up the mess left by Ravnsborg’s incompetence and absence from office and preparing the office for a transition back to effective, efficient operations. Seiler would have a hard time saying no to the opportunity to serve the public in that important interim role, and he’d likely be so busy navigating the challenges of that clean-up and transition that he wouldn’t have time to go digging for skeletons in Kristi’s Second Floor closets… so by appointing a civic-minded Democrat who’s not running for election and who will only hold the post for six months, Noem might actually better protect herself from investigation than she would be appointing a Republican who might stay in the office for another four years and get ideas about using that position as leverage against Noem in some future election.

I know there’s not much chance Noem will call this trick play and give Randy Seiler a job. But Seiler would do a good job as interim Attorney General, and she would give herself a chance to say that, as we recover from the disruption Jason Ravnsborg caused to law enforcement to this great state, she’s stepping back to avoid any appearance of politicizing the office and is letting her party’s delegates and the voters of South Dakota pick their own Attorney General in the November election.

42 Comments

  1. Edwin Arndt 2022-06-22

    I have no problem with the legislature impeaching Ravnsborg, but I think
    whether or not he can serve in elective office again should be left up to the voters.

  2. cibvet 2022-06-22

    Who ever she picks will have to put investigations of the noem administration on the ” never opened again” shelf.

  3. Mark 2022-06-22

    Given the calendar and political climate, maybe the best thing to do is make one of the nonpolitical career deputies the acting AG, Of course, the best thing for public confidence might not necessarily be the best thing that serve certain political interests…

  4. P. Aitch 2022-06-22

    Need an AG, Mr. Corporate America?
    They’re for rent for $50k

    The Attorney General Alliance is facing criticism for courting $50,000 donations from lobbyists and corporate partners to pay for its lavish conferences and foreign junkets.

    State attorneys general wield immense influence over public safety and consumer matters with huge financial implications for corporate America.

    Chris Toth, former executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General, contended in his recent retirement letter that the Attorney General Alliance — a competitor — is selling access to lobbyists and corporate patrons. He’s “increasingly alarmed” at the influence of money from entities that are being investigated by attorney generals and donors who “essentially buy programming.”

    In some cases, the companies that are ponying up tens of thousands of dollars to get exclusive access are the same ones being investigated by the officials.

    Two prominent donors to the alliance — Comcast and TurboTax — recently settled legal disputes with Weiser, Colorado’s attorney general who serves as the alliance’s chairman.

    The alliance has a reputation as a more opulent organization than the NAAG, including playing host to junkets to foreign countries organized in part with a consultant who serves as an agent to those nations’ governments.

    https://www.axios.com/local/denver/2022/06/22/phil-weiser-colorado-attorney-general-alliance-controversy

  5. mike from iowa 2022-06-22

    Bear Creek Bat for Attorney General. Humble, unassuming, well versed in South Duhkota law, completely honest and trustworthy, and if memory serves, restores olde guitars.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have never met bcb, I have no idea what he looks like or where he lives. Just from a few emailes exchanged and his patient law explaining on DFP, I can endorse his for this position. ( I also am not getting remyunerated in any way for this endorsement)

  6. 96Tears 2022-06-22

    He’s had experience as a state’s attorney. He’s a skilled, energetic politician. He knows his way around state government and the South Dakota Legislature. He knows right from wrong. He respects the institution of state government and the governmental process. Gives a damn good speech. I’m sure he could stand to do the job for six months without missing a beat. He’s well read and he knows South Dakota law inside and out. And he’s a Republican.

    Lee Schoenbeck.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-22

    Mike, I’ll second your nomination of Bearcreekbat. However, BCB will have to submit a real name to the Governor. ;-)

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-22

    96, Lee Schoenbeck would romp and stomp in that office. There would be that same conflict of interest question that makes me pause on Vargo and Tracy—did he vote to impeach just to get the job? But I would be interested to see Noem appoint Schoenbeck just to see what Kristi and Lee would do about his Senate seat. There’s not that much left to do now that impeachment is done, so Kristi could leave the seat open for the rest of this year. Lee won his primary and has no general election challenger, so he gets to come back for the 2023 Session. He can’t be both AG and Senator, but his term as interim AG would end before his term as Senator would begin, so he wouldn’t have to withdraw from the position to which he has already been elected for next year.

    And of course, as Attorney General, Lee could have heap big fun for six months enforcing campaign finance laws against all those whack-a-doodles getting dark money from the Convention of States.

  9. Mark Anderson 2022-06-22

    Noem could put her daughter in, couldn’t she?

  10. Bob Newland 2022-06-22

    Lee Schoenbeck is a self-serving, mean-spirited PoS. His disingenuous (dishonest) promotion of C should alert everyone to that.

  11. grudznick 2022-06-22

    grudznick’s guesses:

    1) young Mr. McGuigan, just because I know my good friend Bob has much respect
    2) Mr. Schoenbeck’s son (remember you don’t have to be an attorney for this job, heck Mr. Ravnsborg wasn’t really a real attorney)
    3) grudznick
    4) some random crony republican mouthpiece lawyer already lurking about

  12. larry kurtz 2022-06-22

    My source says Alexis Tracy is a rising star in South Dakota politics.

  13. DaveFN 2022-06-22

    What is bothersome about Vargo, perhaps not as an AG, is nonetheless his pontifications such as:

    “”I hope that it means some of the ‘do-you-know-who-I-am?’ ‘I’m the attorney general,’ using your position will be chilled,” Vargo said. “My first boss made it very clear that if you were ever pulled over and if the law enforcement officer saw your badge, you were fired. It was just a given.” ”

    The problem is every bit as much that law enforcement officers would give someone a break just because they flashed their badge, which is obviously what Vargo would just as much decry. Craig Price, Vargo, and others are in charge and would best do something about this if it’s happening.

    https://www.npr.org/2022/06/22/1106671572/south-dakota-attorney-general-ravnsborg-boever-pedestrian-impeach

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-22

    DaveFN, I don’t think Vargo’s statement to SDPB’s Lee Strubinger after the trial is bothersome pontification; it’s a useful affirmation of the observation that the Democratic minority and I and others have been making since the evidence of Ravnsborg’s actions became public: he was abusing his office in ways that would immediately set off alarms if we were talking about any regular public servant.

    Yes, the problem is that all those officers Ravnsborg interacted with, including Sheriff Volek but even cops outside South Dakota’s good-old-boys network, like the cop who stopped Ravnsborg for speeding in Nebraska, are willing to countenance that badge flash and give a fellow law enforcement officer a break. Cops need to hold other cops as accountable for infractions as they would hold us. Cops need to hold powerful cops and elected officials even more accountable, because powerful people can commit greater abuses with their greater power.

    Unfortunately, Vargo isn’t in charge of the Rapid City PD or the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department. He’s in charge of the State’s Attorney’s office. But by prosecuting Ravnsborg and by saying the things he said, not only at the trial while performing his sworn duty but also after the trial, after his duties were discharged, speaking freely to the press, Vargo is trying to set the moral and legal bar for all those are in a position to abuse their public positions and the power of their badges. Vargo and all of us can now use the Ravnsborg impeachment and conviction as an example in future discussions of abuses of power. When some elected official—AG, Mayor, Governor, whoever—getting pulled over for speeding or making a 9-1-1 and leads with, “Hey, do you know who I am? I’m Grand Poobah So-and-So,” that cop or dispatcher can think, “Hey, this poobah is trying to pull a Ravnsborg on me; I’d better do my duty and not let this bastard intimidate me into doing any favors.”

  15. DaveFN 2022-06-22

    Cory–

    I won’t go into my dealings with Vargo, as limited as they are, but it would be beneficial to hear Vargo say that law enforcement is part and parcel of the problem under discussion and that he hopes to see that offices aren’t complicit in that problem whether or not he’s the head of RCPD or PCSD. Colonel Craig Price and Sgt. Kevin Kinney of the Highway Patrol would best hear same from him as would the public-at-large.

    As far as idealism, in retrospect I’m increasingly leaning toward the idealistic opinion of Rep. Tim Johns on reserving impeachment for the most egregious events:

    “”I think if you don’t like the job they do, you vote them out,” Johns said. “You don’t use impeachment. I think that’s supposed to be held for very egregious events. ”

    https://www.npr.org/2022/06/22/1106671572/south-dakota-attorney-general-ravnsborg-boever-pedestrian-impeach

    Ravnsborg’s waffling, contradictions, and lies on the Boever affair outrage most of us. He’s a doofus and we wanted him out of office. Fact is, he would best never have been in office in the first place, doofus that he is, and that became all the clearer with time, particularly in his own dealings with law enforcement who questioned him. I find Vargo’s prosecution less than admirable leading the witnesses with preordained questions as he did, and that was clear with Butler statements exposing the highly subjective comments of the witness–predicated, of course, on the mission and leading questions of the prosecutor. But the horse was already out of the barn by then.

    Arguably, using impeachment to accomplish Ravnsborg’s removal pulls down impeachment standards. Looking ahead, it may have the perverse consequence of people thinking their vote is powerless since impeachment is an option in cases that actually don’t warrant it, and that could be what Johns has in mind when he says that impeachment in this case “doesn’t set a good precedent.” In other words, it has the possibility of setting a bad one.

    Noem is more deserving of impeachment although falling short of it—thus far.

  16. grudznick 2022-06-22

    Remember, Mr. DaveFN, the good Mr. Johns has a dandy office of the law overlooking the rich hole at Homestake and he was convicted of driving impaired and could envision hisownself getting ousted had he but harmed someone. He was serving self with his speech.

  17. DaveFN 2022-06-22

    grudznick

    Nothing I penned negates what you write.

    I am, however, of the persuasion that what is spoken can have the ring of truth no matter who speaks it, even insofar as serving self with speech can come to one’s best rescue, that is, even to the best rescue of what’s worst in onself.

  18. grudznick 2022-06-22

    Indeed, Mr. DaveFN, the truth is true no matter who speaks it or if it serves self, or benefits another, and you are again righter-than-right.

  19. DaveFN 2022-06-22

    grudznick

    Please note my qualification, the “ring” of truth.

    If by “truth” you yourself are referring to what is sometimes termed “objective truth,” namely, that which is mind-independent and thus true for everyone, whether they agree with it or not, a reified truth elevated to the level of absolute truth —-well, that is far from any stance I hold. The ring of truth comes as close as it can but is no cigar.

  20. Jake 2022-06-22

    Schoenbeck’s last sentence -“And he’s a Republican” deserves more than a second glance. He may be
    Republican, Lee, given him reason it seems for the large majority of SD to simply vote because of the “R”; but the state has essentially been ruled by said Republican party for decades, giving us a (R)Janklow that was no friend to our indigenous population, and also of course for the (R)Jackley /(R)Rounds combo years that oversaw the Chinese money pit that scalped millions off unsuspecting businessmen in China slaughter plant that never happened under THIS scheme)-(leading to the demise of the state’s highest official overseeing the state-run program by “suicide” with shotgun and tree branch in a shelter belt when hunting by “himself’; ie. see Jackley’s ‘report?”) followed shortly by the family murder/suicide in Platte after the the SD government man in charge of a government Indian education program (missing millions) murdered his family, set his mansion on fire and killed himself–the records safe has never been found and their could be other suspicious things–all under GOP Republican government here in SD. And now, look at the ‘Jack’ run for office with Kristi egging him on.
    BCB could easily get my Dem vote, ; there ARE good Pubs still around: like Cheney of Wyo, Kenzinger also a handful (small) of others with old Alan Simpson being one of my long-time favorites. But, I ask you personally Lee Schoenbeck and others like you-what has happened to the rest of your party that has steeped themselves in the current MAGA fomented by an egotistic, narcissistic ex-POTUS that really should be dressed in the same color jump-suit as his goofy hair in shackles looking out thru bars !!

    Lastly, you can bet your last $ that NO ONE will be given that AG job by Noem that doesn’t promise a forehand not to continue investigating her for illegal use of SD state aircraft and security for out of state fund-raising trips; of which she has take soo many! Remember, SD voters don’t like out-of-staters until they bring $$$ here and leave them because we are so known to be a ‘taker’ state, living and operating as socialists while denying all along that we are such.
    By the way, Lee, good speech on floor of Senate @ hearing. Well done.

  21. ABC 2022-06-23

    Noem could appoint

    1. Ravnsborg s wife? He’s married, eh?

    2. Herself. Then can prob take office again in Jan. as Gover(NO)r.

    3. A disabled Republican woman lawyer (First female AG?)

    4. Appoint a Dem. critic of her, great photo op, including hugging.

  22. ABC 2022-06-23

    Republican re make of Rawhide theme song: (Maga approved)

    Grifting Grifting Grifting
    Keep our cattle Grifting
    “……….Rawhide!

    Folks, we have the makings of a trifecta or a quadfecta this year. What has happened?

    June primary- people rejected awful Amendment C, 2 to 1.

    June also, Republican Senators remove Ravnsborg.

    Those 2 were the voters and the Senators rejecting overwhelmingly a bad law and a bad AG.

    Now for positive stuff.

    November elections, probably.

    Expand Medicaid passes. Hopefully Noem does not try to Dugaard this in January.

    Legal marijuana passes. Same, Krist NO should not Dugaard this. If she does try, Democratic Senators should file impeachment articles publicly and loudly.

    That’s 4!

    What could be a 5th?

    Unlikely that Jamie Smith will win. Unless Governor NO is involved in a traffic death or very public obvious crime caught on camera. Unlikely.

    Remember, of these 4 good things, 1 was from: Republican Senators temporarily growing a Heartand removing former AG. The other 3 were from voters.

    The 5th?

    I would suggest, a Permanent Progressive Party in SD is born, and wins elections for ever.

    Also, the 6th, in tune with our new digital age, elections every week in a Progressive based 501-c-4 action group or Nonprofit that has Elections every week (for hundreds of officers) and creates and does Projects so audacious that State Government would never do.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-23

    DaveFN, Senator Johns told SDPB, “I think if you don’t like the job they do, you vote them out.” But this isn’t about the job Ravnsborg was doing; it was about his abuse of his job, his office, his title, and his violations of the basic code of ethics applied to all law enforcement officers. It was about his committing crimes and engaging in malfeasance in office. The Constitution recognizes that some behavior is sufficiently bad that we can’t wait for the next election to remove the malfeasant from office.

    Johns went on to say, “You don’t use impeachment. I think that’s supposed to be held for very egregious events. None of these — yeah, a man died. That’s the tragedy. That’s not a good enough reason to impeach.” Killing a man isn’t enough reason to impeach? That statement is egregious.

    Remaining in officer served no one’s interest but Jason’s. Had he held the interests of the public and even of his party higher than his self-interest, he’d have taken a leave of absence immediately. He’d have told the truth. He’d not have tried blaming Joe Boever for his own death. He would not have claimed to be investigating Noem for corruption on the eve of his impeachment but never follow through on holding her accountable. He’d have accepted responsibility for his actions.

    And you know, had he been absolutely truthful, he might not have lost the confidence of law enforcement. His defenders might have been able to say that he at least had held himself to the highest standards of conduct in the investigation, in responding to investigators, and in not trying to get DCI agent Gromer to help with his defense. But Ravnsborg was locked in this self-serving pattern, as shown in his bid for Senate in 2014, his constant campaigning and in-party brownnosing from 2014 through 2018, and in his continual use of his title to get out of traffic tickets (not to mention his habitual illegal driving habits that caught the cops’ attention in the first place). Ravnsborg is profoundly, childishly selfish. His killing of Joe Boever and more importantly how he reacted to that killing laid bare his moral unfitness for public service.

    Mark Vargo, Alexis Tracy, and the South Dakota Senate carried out grave, solemn, and profoundly important duties on Tuesday. They did justice, removed a moral failure from elected office, and set an important and useful example for law enforcement and elected officials.

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-23

    Jake, I’m thinking that Noem could most certainly secure promises from her preferred appointee to insulate her from investigation. But she can really only discuss such a promise with a crony, a loyalist. I’m not entirely sure she could safely have such a discussion with Marty Jackley. Jackley has his own power base. Jackley could turn on her, reveal that Noem demanded such a corrupt promise, and survive the fight that would result. Jackley could use such a promise to destroy Noem and clear his path to run for Governor and avenge his 2018 loss.

    I’m also not sure Noem has a lot of leverage to secure such a promise from anyone else. I can imagine Dave Natvig making such a promise—after all, he has his DCI job only because he’s a pal of Jason, and the only way he’d get the AG job is by being a pal of Kristi… but since he’s a pal of Jason, and since Kristi has already thrown in with Marty, there’s no way she’ll reverse herself and help Natvig. Anyone else Noem appoints won’t be the GOP nominee and thus won’t be AG for more than six months. Taking the job for six months will be mostly a pain in the butt for the appointee: barely enough time to learn where everything is in the office, let alone prosecute cases and make an appreciable difference in the office before having to leave Pierre and get one’s private practice back up and running. Getting someone to accept this interim gig for six months of chaos might require Kristi to make more promises to the appointee than the appointee might have to give to the Governor.

    While I prefer exciting, historic, clever actions that make for good blog posts, Noem’s decision will likely be less calculating and far more boring: she’ll ask Charlie McGuigan to keeping acting as AG or make some other minor internal move. She won’t have to ask any internal career AG staffer to promise not to investigate her; everyone in the company town of Pierre has already taken a vow of silence and blindness.

  25. Jake 2022-06-23

    Cory-the week’s BEST verbage I’ve seen in print -thanks for excellent reporting! A tip to the ole tip jar!

  26. Bob Newland 2022-06-23

    The hapless, rosy-cheeked aging buttboy Charlie McGuigan was made for six months of butt-thumbing duty as interim Attorney General.

  27. Jake Schoenbeck 2022-06-23

    Come on Grudznick, of all of Lee’s kids, there actually is one that is a lawyer, my sister Erin.

    But overall, the best member of the Schoenbeck family to be AG would likely be one of my father’s hunting labs, probably Jack. Dependable, hard working, and always brings back the bird!

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-23

    Now, Jake S., the last thing Governor Noem wants in the Attorney General’s office is a real hunting dog. That would upstage her campaign photos in more ways than one….

  29. Jake Schoenbeck 2022-06-23

    Corey, unfortunately her dog just passed away. Perfect time for a new one in the capitol. Though it will have to take leave on most weekends from October-December.

  30. Bob Newland 2022-06-23

    Jake, your consistent misspelling of Cory’s name is reminiscent of Mike Butler’s repeated mispronunciation of his own client’s name as “Ravvensburg.”

  31. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-23

    Always sad to hear of a good dog’s passing.

    But we can’t afford to have an A.G. who needs lots of time off in the fall. That seems to be when dudes involved in our biggest scandals die under strange circumstances (Benda in EB-5; Westerhuis in GEAR UP) and we need the AG on the scene to scour Charles Mix County for Chinese mafia.

  32. Jake Schoenbeck 2022-06-23

    Sorry Couri, I’ll try to spell your name correctly going forward

  33. Nick Nemec 2022-06-23

    Jake, your dad’s leadoff speech on the first article of impeachment was a work of rhetorical art. He swayed votes and sealed Ravnsborg’s fate. On behalf of the members of Joe Boever’s extended family I thank him.

  34. Jenny 2022-06-23

    I don’t know, Nick. we don’t really want it to get to Lee’s head now should we. You know how these SD Pubs get when they start thinking too highly of themselves. I, myself, appreciated Heinert’s 18 seconds of silence. That spoke volumes on its own.

  35. O 2022-06-23

    I propose that an element of all this that has gone undiscussed is that the actions of Ravnsborg’s only rose to the level of misdemeanor under SD law. Our “noble” legislature was quick to jump up and condemn Ravnsborg’s actions, but did they use the opportunity to codify these objections into harsher laws to address negligent non-impeachable killers in the future?

  36. DaveFN 2022-06-23

    Cory–

    (1) “Remaining in officer served no one’s interest but Jason’s. ” So, he didn’t resign. But whether he should resign or not is a separate issue from whether or not he best be impeached for not resigning.

    As far as “malfeasance in office,” yes, malfeasance (‘wrongdoing, especially by a public official, synonyms:deceit · deception · duplicity · lying · falseness · falsity · falsehood · untruthfulness · fraud · fraudulence · sharp practice · cheating · chicanery · craft · cunning · trickery · artifice · artfulness · wiliness · guile · double-dealing…”) owing, however, to an ancillary matter apart from his official duties. In what specific, written job description duties was he malfeasant?

    As far as killing a man as grounds for impeachment, the impeachment standard of the US House of Representatives cites impeachment as “charges against an officer suspected of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” (Article II, Section 4).” Here is a list of those so impeached:

    https://history.house.gov/Institution/Impeachment/Impeachment-List/

    But wait, there’s more:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_impeachment_investigations_of_United_States_federal_officials

    I find no case of killing anyone (a “high crime”) which led to impeachment. Non of the above cases resemble the Ravnsborg. case.

    The question also becomes how many representatives and senators have committed manslaughter or vehicular homicide/manslaughter. Who are they? No doubt many although I’ve yet to find a list—but were they impeached? If so they aren’t in the links listed above.

    And consider the recent article in Mother Jones: “Sure, Jason Ravnsborg Was Impeached. He Still Got Away With Killing Someone” with the cogent observation “Which is why, when all of this is over, Jason Ravnsborg may no longer have a job—but he will still have his license.” Justice on the wrong end of the stick?

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2022/04/sure-jason-ravnsborg-was-impeached-he-still-got-away-with-killing-someone/

    (2) “Mark Vargo, Alexis Tracy, and the South Dakota Senate carried out grave, solemn, and profoundly important duties on Tuesday. They did justice, removed a moral failure from elected office, and set an important and useful example for law enforcement and elected officials.”

    “More importantly, they built a case that convinced Republican Senators to remove a Republican Attorney General. I say anyone who can convince South Dakota Republicans to do the right thing deserves a medal, not to mention an appointment to higher office.”

    Vargo, et al served a function as prosecutors, yes. If they hadn’t done it others would have. One would be hard-pressed, however, to say they “convinced Republican Senators” of anything.

    From what we heard from the Senators they had strong opinions and likely had their minds made up well in advance of anything the presented by those individuals involved in the prosecutorial proceedings. Or do you have evidence to the contrary?

  37. Nick Nemec 2022-06-23

    Jenny, Sen. Heinerts speech was also powerful. I’m willing to give credit where credit is due.

  38. Bob Newland 2022-06-23

    Schoenbeck did nothing more than express his contempt for Ravnborg in terms that left no doubt he expected others to agree. Sometimes it happens that a mostly- distasteful human has a conviction that intersects with one of mine.

  39. lrads1 2022-06-23

    I can’t help but wonder about his upbringing…Is he representative of a generation that wasn’t forced to learn the virtue of truth-telling at the critical age? Did it come from his childhood? Or from his time observing and/or being a part of the in crowd that got away with little falsehoods? What was it about George Washington’s “I cannot tell a lie” lesson that didn’t get through to him? Did that lend itself to his fateful decision the night he was tested? What does that tell us about the future of public servants/service?

  40. Jenny 2022-06-24

    What did you do, Bob? You have hinted at your past before…..

    I can’t help but wonder why South Dakotans would vote for Ravnsborg in the first place. The guy had never even tried a court case. Was it really just because he showed up for GOP events around the state?
    Aim higher, South Dakota.

  41. Jake Schoenbeck 2022-06-24

    Jenny, if you’re wondering how Ravnsborg got the nomination at the convention in the first place, it’s actually a unique story. Ravnsborg came into the convention in what people assumed was last place among the three candidates (Jason, Lance Russel, and the sheriff who’s name escapes me). On Friday night, at the formal dinner, Russel and the sheriff did a joint flyer attacking Jason. It was so nasty it flipped enough delegates (including myself unfortunately) to get him nominated the next day. We had three bad picks for AG that year….

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