Randy Seiler for Attorney General

Home » 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.

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