Randy Seiler for Attorney General

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PRESS RELEASE: Ravnsborg continues to court out-of-state donors

October 31, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Ravnsborg continues to court out-of-state donors

FORT PIERRE, SD – In the days since Pre-General election campaign finance disclosures were filed with the Secretary of State on October 22, Jason Ravnsborg has hauled in tens of thousands of dollars from out-of-state political groups. With a total of $100,000 donated by the D.C. based Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and more than $50,000 from other outside groups, Ravnsborg’s campaign is now almost 70 percent funded by out-of-state dollars. By contrast, more than 95 percent of Randy Seiler’s contributions have come from within South Dakota.

Ravnsborg’s reliance on out-of-state special interest dollars could raise ethics concerns if he is able to spend his way to victory next Tuesday. Last June, a CBS investigation revealed that groups like RAGA often host lavish retreats where large corporations and interest groups are granted one-on-one access to state attorneys general. The report found that many of RAGA’s donations come from companies with matters currently under consideration by state attorneys general. While there are no reports of Ravnsborg attending such a retreat, his willingness to accept large donations from outside groups like RAGA raises questions about who he intends to represent if elected next Tuesday.

Seiler, who has accepted no money from the Democratic Attorneys General Association and is almost entirely funded by in-state donors commented on his opponent’s fundraising strategy: “South Dakotans needs an Attorney General who will represent them and no one else. Our state’s top law enforcement official must be committed to keeping us safe and not be focused on pleasing national political groups. The campaign finance disclosures issued in this race draw a clear distinction between the two candidates: one is an experienced prosecutor with support from everyday, hardworking people in this state, and the other is a lawyer with no criminal jury trial experience attempting to use outside dollars to spend his way around his limited resume. South Dakotans will make the right choice next Tuesday.”

Randy Seiler’s clear momentum in the race is likely a motivating factor behind RAGA’s decision to pour money into the state. In the past several weeks, Seiler has been endorsed by the Argus Leader Editorial Board, the Rapid City Journal, two Republican former South Dakota Attorneys General, and 20 past presidents of the South Dakota State Bar. He has campaigned on the need for a more transparent, ethical, and trustworthy state government. Seiler has committed to tackling the state’s drug epidemic through expanded community-based treatment and protecting victims of violent crime by holding offenders accountable. Randy Seiler, a former U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, has been lead counsel on over 600 Federal felony cases and 75 jury trials, while Ravnsborg is a volunteer deputy state’s attorney who has never prosecuted a criminal case before a jury.

FACT CHECK: Republican AG Candidate Misleading Voters in New Campaign Ad

October 28, 2018

FORT PIERRE, SD – In a new campaign attack ad circulating this week, Jason Ravnsborg, a candidate for South Dakota Attorney General, attempts to distract voters with misleading information about his opponent Randy Seiler. Without any evidence, Ravnsborg calls Seiler a “liberal career politician” who wants to take away South Dakotans’ guns and weaken our drug laws. These assertions are not supported by the facts. Seiler, a former U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, responded to the attacks with the following statement:

“The ad circulated by my opponent this week is yet another example of his efforts to mislead South Dakota voters. When South Dakota voters are presented with the facts, the choice for our next Attorney General could not be clearer.

  • I am not a “liberal career politician.” Before pursuing a career as a prosecutor, I spent four years in the U.S. Air Force, serving in Vietnam and earning the Air Force Commendation Medal for meritorious service. After my service in the Air Force, I became a practicing lawyer and eventually joined the U.S. Attorney’s office, where I was involved in the prosecution of hundreds of federal felony crimes, including murder, rape, child sexual abuse, robbery, public corruption, and more. I am running for AG to represent the same client I have spent my career serving: South Dakota.
  • The Second Amendment, like all other constitutional rights, must be protected. Law-abiding citizens in this state have the right to defend themselves and their families, and South Dakota has a rich hunting tradition that resonates with families across the state. I will always cherish the memories I have of growing up hunting pheasants and deer with my Dad. My opponent’s assertion that I will ban “common guns” has no basis in truth and demonstrates his lack of understanding of the role of the Attorney General. I’ve spent my career enforcing the law and prosecuting offenders that use firearms in crimes of violence. I am the only candidate in the race for Attorney General that has the skills and the experience to defend not only our Second Amendment Rights but also protect states’ Tenth Amendment right to self-governance.
  • Methamphetamine and opioid related crimes bring numerous challenges to the South Dakota criminal justice system. This crisis is tearing too many families apart. We must work with law enforcement, health care providers, and everyday South Dakotans to educate the public on the dangers of drugs, expand treatment for those who are addicted, and vigorously prosecute those who bring these dangerous substances to our communities. Building a multi-million dollar “meth prison,” as my opponent has suggested, is not the answer. Drug dealers deserve to be incarcerated and I have the experience to hold those criminals accountable.

My opponent’s misleading attacks are no surprise. He has continuously over exaggerated his prosecutorial experience over the course of this campaign.

Randy Seiler is campaigning on his experience as a prosecutor and has committed to addressing issues of violent crime, public corruption, and more as South Dakota’s next Attorney General. In the past two weeks, Seiler has been endorsed by two former South Dakota Attorneys General, 20 past Presidents of the South Dakota State Bar, the South Dakota Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the Argus Leader Editorial Board.

Meth crisis, legal experience drive race for attorney general in South Dakota

KSFY Posted: Thu 11:40 PM, Oct 25, 2018  |  Updated: Thu 11:52 PM, Oct 25, 2018

Tonight we continue our series of reports looking at the candidates for South Dakota’s top political jobs.

Our focus this evening is on the race for attorney general which pits Republican Jason Ravnsborg against Democrat Randy Seiler.

These candidates both say their top priority if elected would be solving the state’s Meth and opioid crisis. But in recent weeks another issue has emerged as well and that one deals with what experience is necessary to become the state’s top law enforcement official.

Campaigning in South Dakota for a statewide job means logging a lot of miles along the trail.

“I’ve traveled over 120,000 miles since February of 2017.” Jason Ravnsborg is the Republican candidate for attorney general.
If his name sounds familiar…..four years ago he was in a primary battle for U-S senate with four other Republican candidates.
He graduated from U-S-D Law School in 2001.

Since 2004 he’s been part of a Yankton law firm and has recently worked as a volunteer state’s attorney in Union County.
He says voters he’s talked to are worried about Meth and opioids. “They want to get them away from the addiction. Sadly Meth takes a year to get off of.”

Ravnsborg says it’s the big issue he’s worried about as well. He says his solution would be the construction of a new prison in western South Dakota specifically designed for Meth and opioid offenders….so they can serve time for their crimes and recover from their addiction through specialized programs. “We have to make sure they get the treatment that they need to get off of this addiction of Meth. We have way too much Meth in our state.”

Ravsnborg’s proposed prison would also have a specialized mental health unit to address that growing issue as well. “I want to help as many people for the lowest amount of dollars that we can.”

“You know I’ve spent my entire career, Brian, working across party lines, not playing politics with the law.” Randy Seiler is the Democratic candidate for attorney general and if his name sounds familiar, it should as well. He spent 22 years in the South Dakota U-S Attorney’s office; the last two as the U-S attorney.

Seiler says the idea of building a new prison specifically for Meth is fiscally irresponsible and wouldn’t solve the problem at hand. “If we do that that has to be built with general fund dollars and it has to be staffed with general fund dollars and I think that money can better be spent using public and private partnerships.”

Public-private partnerships like the ongoing discussion in Sioux Falls about the development of a community triage system for those battling drug abuse and working through mental health issues.
Seiler has been a lawyer for 38 years. Ravsnborg for 17 years.

But in recent weeks an issue has been bubbling up in this race that has to do with experience; not necessarily in terms of years but in terms of what has happened in those years. Seiler says, “Experience does matter when you’re going to be the attorney general. You can’t learn to practice law when you’re the South Dakota attorney general. You have to bring that experience to the position.”

It’s an idea that has dogged Jason Ravnsborg since the Republican state convention in June when he won the nomination for attorney general. He beat two other candidates. One of them a sitting state’s attorney. That idea is that while Ravnsborg is an attorney and knows the law he has not spent much time in a courtroom bringing criminals to justice as a prosecutor Seiler says, “He has not been involved in prosecuting a jury trial as a prosecutor. He is a volunteer prosecutor in Union County with zero criminal trial experience.”

Ravnsborg says, “I’ve been in the courtroom quite a bit. I fact I’ve been in a courtroom within the last week. I’m still a very active attorney. Ongoing cases in South Dakota and Iowa both.” I brought this issue up with Ravnsborg and he told me why he believes Seiler is attacking him on this point. “When you don’t have any ideas you try and attack your opponent.”

I asked Randy Seiler how many criminal cases he had overseen as a prosecutor and he told me 75 in the U-S Attorneys office alone and hundreds of others as a consultant.

I asked Jason Ravnsborg how many proceedings he had overseen as lead prosecutor. He told us, “I guess that’s the one thing I’ve laughed at is like I’ve never kept track and I don’t know why you would keep track. And we’ve sat down and said you know why does it matter? Can I do the job? And the job is a lot about leadership and management.”

There are published reports backing Seiler’s assertion that Ravnsborg has never prosecuted a criminal case in his time as an attorney.

I contacted Union County State’s Attorney Jerry Miller who Ravnsborg works for as a volunteer prosecutor to get some clarity on this issue. He tells me Ravnsborrg has been assigned to drug, assault and attempted murder cases and that each of his cases has been resolved through guilty pleas as part of plea agreements. While those criminal cases have not been tried before a jury, Miller says Ravnsborg has tried civil cases to a jury.

Pre-election filings show Seiler with local fundraising edge in AG race

Oct 25, 2018

Open records and open meetings laws were the topic when Democratic attorney general candidate Randy Seiler spoke with member so the South Dakota Newspaper Association First Amendment Committee on Aug. 10 at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

Ravnsborg looking to out-of-state sources for campaign cash

The pre-general election campaign funding disclosure reports for South Dakota Attorney General candidates Randy Seiler and Jason Ravnsborg show a large discrepancy between the sources of income.

Based on analysis of the disclosure forms, it’s apparent that Ravnsborg has relied on the support of out-of-state contributors, while Seiler’s backing is mostly comprised of money from people and parties in South Dakota.

The disclosure reports for the two candidates at the forefront of South Dakota’s attorney general race were released this week. Seiler, a Democrat and Ravnsborg, a Republican have both raised six-figures in total campaign contributions since their respective primaries. The documents show that while total income is comparable for both candidates, Seiler is outspending Ravnsborg by more than $80,000 leading into the general election.

Seiler has spent more than $145,000 since the primary. Ravnsborg has spent slightly more than $63,000.

Currently, Ravnsborg’s smaller spending amount has allowed to him to have an ending balance of over $150,000. Seiler, who’s operational costs have largely been put into advertising, is attempting to become the first Democrat Attorney General in South Dakota since the 1970s. His balance, as of Oct. 22, was slightly more than $60,000.

One figure that stands out is the difference between individual direct contributions for each candidate. Since the Democratic primary, Seiler has received almost $113,000 in contributions from individuals. The majority of this number is made up of ‘itemized’ contributions, or donations higher than $100 at a time. ‘Unitemized’ contributions are donations that are under $100.

Ravnsborg’s total direct contributions since the Republican primary is just under $58,000. Seiler, who served as the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota from 2015 to 2017, is outraising Ravnsborg in this area by nearly $55,000.

Ravnsborg, an Army veteran and Yankton lawyer, has been able to make up the gap through contributions from political action committees, or PACs. The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) PAC, based out of Washington D.C. made a $50,000 contribution to the Ravnsborg campaign. The campaign has other, smaller PAC contributions totalling nearly $10,000 more.

Seiler’s total PAC contributions are just under $12,000.

Ravnsborg is also out-earning Seiler in another category on the disclosure forms – direct contributions from entities. An entity, put simply, is defined as any business, trust or cooperative that isn’t directly tied to any political party. The phrase “any group of persons acting in concert that is not defined as a political committee in this chapter except, an entity is not a candidate, a public office holder, or a political committee,” is included in the definition on the disclosure form.

Ravnsborg has received $25,000 in contributions from entities. Only two of the contributions have come from groups in South Dakota, each worth $4,000. The remaining $17,000 is comprised of contributions from around the country.

Seiler, on the other hand, has received just under $3,000 in entity contributions, all of which are from South Dakota entities.

Seiler addressed this in a Facebook post, writing “this state deserves an Attorney General who will protect South Dakota families, not national political groups,” and “that politics should have no place when it comes to enforcing the law.”

Ravnsborg emailed this statement to the Capital Journal:

“Once again my opponent will talk about issues like banning certain kinds of guns, decriminalizing methamphetamine ingestion, or focusing on the issue of where campaign funding comes from instead of the issues that will help keep South Dakota safe. The issues I talk about and concentrate on, being tough on crime, fighting the meth problem in our state, these are the issues I discuss as a serious Attorney General candidate and not those of a career bureaucrat.

Are some of my donor’s out of state? Yes, I have family members who have contributed to my campaign from out of state. I have individuals who I have worked with over the years in my civil capacity as an attorney who believe in my campaign. I am proud to say that I have a wide variety of support as I have been working at building relationships with current and former Attorneys General from across the nation.

I am an independent voice and as Attorney General I will always be willing to listen to both sides. I have been proud to say since day one of this campaign that nobody owns me and no one ever will.”

The race for South Dakota Attorney General will be decided on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Seiler Reports Strong Fundraising in Pre-General Report

October 24, 2018

FORT PIERRE, SD – State campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show a strong fundraising performance by Randy Seiler during the general election campaign. Seiler, a former U.S. Attorney for South Dakota and Attorney General candidate, reported nearly $150,000 in contributions, with more than 95 percent of donations coming from within the state.

Seiler gave a statement following the release of the reports: “From the beginning, this campaign has been about working with South Dakotans to develop common sense solutions to the pressing issues facing our state. We are not beholden to out-of-state partisan and special interest groups. With the widespread support of our campaign across the state evidenced by Tuesday’s report, I plan to bring experienced leadership and a bipartisan approach to keeping South Dakota families safe to the Attorney General’s office this November.”

While Seiler’s opponent Jason Ravnsborg reported similar fundraising totals, more than half of his contributions came from out-of-state donors. South Dakotans donated nearly twice as much to Seiler as they donated to Ravnsborg. As of Tuesday, Ravnsborg did report having more cash on hand.

In response to questions regarding whether Seiler had concerns about his opponent’s large campaign reserves, Seiler said, “Cash on hand is all about when you pay your bills. All of our vendors are hardworking South Dakotans, and I am not holding on to their money to play political games. We are confident that our campaign has financial resources comparable to our opponent.”

Randy Seiler is campaigning on his long career as a prosecutor and the experience he will bring the Office of the Attorney General. He has prosecuted more than 500 criminal cases and been lead counsel on over 70 Federal felony jury trials. In the past two weeks, Seiler has been endorsed by two former South Dakota Attorneys General and 20 past Presidents of the South Dakota State Bar.

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