The secretary of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety has apologized to the Democratic attorney general candidate for inviting his opponent to participate in an event at the State Fair.
Secretary Trevor Jones issued the apology to Randy Seiler on Tuesday, two days after Jones invited Republican attorney general candidate Jason Ravnsborg to introduce a Highway Patrol canine event during public safety day at the fair.
“Last Sunday at the State Fair, I ran into a candidate for Attorney General and on the spur-of-the-moment, invited him to introduce the Highway Patrol canine demonstration,” Jones said in a statement released by the Department of Public Safety. “It was a lapse in judgement on my part and I apologize. It was not intended to demonstrate support for any particular candidate and should not reflect on the hard-working employees of the Department of Public Safety.”
Seiler, a longtime prosecutor and former U.S. attorney for South Dakota, said he received a personal letter of apology from Jones.
“It doesn’t satisfy me,” Seiler said.
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State law forbids the use of state resources for political purposes. Seiler said the event violated that law. He said it was another example of “cronyism” and “business as usual” in the state’s political system.
Seiler noted that Jones visited the Republican Party tent at the State Fair, but did not visit the Democratic Party tent. The commander of the Highway Patrol knew at least an hour before the event that Ravnsborg had been invited to introduce it, according to Seiler.
“It’s not just, ‘Ah shucks. I had a lapse in judgment,’” Seiler said.
In his note to Seiler, Jones said he hoped the incident doesn’t cause a “permanent fracture” between the two men.
“I had no intention of showing support for any particular candidate; however, I know that my choice was viewed differently,” Jones wrote. “I apologize.”