Randy Seiler for Attorney General

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KELOLAND NEWS Confirms Attorney General Candidate Jason Ravnsborg Exaggerates Resume

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 3, 2018

FORT PIERRE, SD – Experience matters and once again, Jason Ravnsborg proved he doesn’t have it.

During interviews yesterday by KELOLAND’s Brady Mallory, the two South Dakota Attorney General candidates drew stark contrasts between their respective resumes. Randy Seiler, former U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, highlighted his deep background in criminal prosecution. KELOLAND reported that results from a search of federal court records linked Seiler to more than 600 felony cases. Jason Ravnsborg had little to say when pressed on his limited record as a criminal prosecutor.

In light of allegations that Ravnsborg has exaggerated his background and has not prosecuted a criminal case before a jury, KELOLAND’s Brady Mallory gave the candidate a chance to clear the air. Appearing uncomfortable with the topic, Ravnsborg once again claimed he has tried criminal cases. When asked by Mallory to name a criminal case he has tried, Ravnsborg replied, “I’m sure I can, but not off the top of my head.”

Mallory also asked Seiler to name some of his criminal cases. “We tried a number of cases, one of the other names that comes to mind is Alvin Mound, currently serving a life sentence. I prosecuted a case out of Pierre where a young police officer who recently retired, Dave Panzer, was taken hostage by a young man who wanted to kill a cop,” Seiler said. For more information on that case, click here.

Concerns that Ravnsborg has not tried a criminal case before a jury and that he does not have the experience to effectively serve as the state’s top lawyer and law enforcement official are not new. Flyers questioning Ravnsborg’s fitness for office were circulated at the South Dakota GOP Convention last June, and his lack of experience as a prosecutor has been widely reported in the media. In an interview with KSFY last week, Ravnsborg said the concerns are something he has “laughed at,” then he questioned why experience with criminal prosecution mattered for an individual seeking to become the state’s top prosecutor.

In the past week, the Office of the Attorney General has finalized a settlement in a major United States Supreme Court case, overseen the execution of a man who killed a correctional officer while serving a life sentence for attempted murder and kidnapping, and prosecuted another for the beating and strangulation death of a woman with seven young children. In cases like these, and so many more, South Dakota’s Attorney General must lead the office and utilize prosecution experience to ensure South Dakota remains safe.

Attorney General Candidates Clash Over Experience

By: Brady Mallory: https://www.keloland.com/news/politics/attorney-general-candidates-clash-over-experience/1569528904

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Attorney General tries some of the biggest cases in South Dakota, and two candidates want the job. Democrat Randy Seiler and Republican Jason Ravnsborg are on the ballot.

When it comes to qualifications one must have to run for and hold the office, there really aren’t any. You don’t even have to be an attorney to be attorney general. The state law lists the AG as a constitutional officer, and doesn’t require any qualifications. KELOLAND News checked with the Attorney General’s office, and a spokesperson there says that’s true, and that you only need to be a registered voter. Despite this, experience has come up a lot in the race between Seiler and Ravnsborg.

Seiler has been an attorney for nearly 40 years. He recently retired from his role as U.S. Attorney for the State of South Dakota, a position he held from 2015 to 2017.

“The thing I enjoy most is traveling across South Dakota and having the opportunity to meet old friends and meet new friends,” Seiler said.

Ravnsborg has been an attorney for 17 years and is partner at a private firm in Yankton. He’s also a volunteer Deputy States Attorney for Union County.

“I’ve been out talking to as many people as I can possibly find, and I’ve been to every county twice,” Ravnsborg said.

Both are talking about their experience on the campaign trail, but recently there’s been some criticism.

“He’s exaggerated his background because he hasn’t tried a criminal case,” Seiler said.

“That would be untrue, I have done many criminal cases. I’ve done jury trials as a civil attorney,” Ravnsborg said.

Brady Mallory: “What are some of the criminal cases you’ve tried, just to clear up…”

Ravnsborg: “I guess I’ve tried a number of them, but I’ve also prosecuted people for attempted murder, and also for aggravated assault.’

Brady Mallory: “Can you name any cases?”

Ravnsborg: “I’m sure I can, but not off the top of my head.”

The Union County State’s Attorney Jerry Miller says Ravnsborg has not tried any criminal cases in front of a jury in that county. He says Ravnsborg has been involved in criminal cases that ended with plea agreements. However, Miller says Ravnsborg has tried civil cases in front of a jury through his law firm.

Seiler says he’s been the lead counsel in 600 federal felony cases, and has tried 75 jury trials. We searched a federal database, and the results linked him to more than 600 cases. KELOLAND news asked Seiler the same question it asked Ravnsborg, to name some of his criminal cases.

“We tried a number of cases, one of the other names that comes to mind is Alvin Mound, currently serving a life sentence. I prosecuted a case out of Pierre where a young police officer who recently retired, Dave Panzer, was taken hostage by a young man who wanted to kill a cop,” Seiler said.

We also asked the state clerk of courts for records on both attorneys. We’re still waiting for that paperwork, and will let you know what we find. To learn more about all of the candidates and elections we’ve covered, visit our Your Election Headquarters page.

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