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.