I have spent my professional career preparing to be your next Attorney General. After high school, I spent four years in the military including a year in Vietnam. I have always been proud to be an American; but in Vietnam, I learned how lucky I was to be an American. With that good fortune comes the responsibility to work hard, take care of your family, and stand up for the things you believe in.
When I returned home from Vietnam, I attended college on the GI Bill and graduated from USD Law School with honors. I practiced law in Mobridge for 14 years before becoming a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Representing victims of terrible crimes — homicide, child sexual abuse, and rape — broadened my understanding of justice. I am proud to say that I have never walked away from the difficult cases. I have served as lead counsel on over 70 jury trials and 500 prosecutions that made our communities safer.
From 2015-17, it was my honor to serve as South Dakota’s United States Attorney. As U.S. Attorney, I was the managing partner of a statewide law firm with 60 of our state’s most talented litigators and legal professionals. Understanding that justice transcends criminal prosecution, I made a commitment to community engagement. We partnered with healthcare providers to promote the rights of people with disabilities, and combat child sexual abuse, opioid addiction and human trafficking. I worked with tribal leaders to foster government-to-government relationships. As U.S. Attorney, I also led the office’s Civil, Appellate, and Administrative Divisions. That is the path that brings me here today, to ask for your support in my campaign to be your next Attorney General.
As lawyers we need to know the law, but knowing the law is not the same as practicing the law. It is my extensive practice of law that qualifies me to be our next Attorney General. It isn’t until you walk into a courtroom with a child — the victim of unspeakable acts of abuse — that you know that it isn’t enough to simply know the law. The child holding your hand has dared to hope that justice is real because you have told her that it is. In that moment, there is a realization, that experience matters.
My opponent is a volunteer deputy state’s attorney who has never prosecuted a criminal case before a jury. We have learned through tragedy that public corruption destroys lives and erodes public trust. My opponent has never prosecuted a public corruption case. Over 4,000 South Dakota children are sexually abused each year. My opponent has never stood before a jury to seek justice for victims of sexual assault, rape or homicide. He does not have the experience to make the difficult charging and prosecutorial decisions that are the responsibility of the Attorney General. South Dakotans deserve an executive leader with a proven track record of evaluating and winning cases that protect our citizens and our financial interests.
Across South Dakota and our nation, the prevalence of drug abuse and addiction is tearing apart our families and communities in epic proportions, while consuming our criminal justice system. My opponent has proposed building a meth prison. Incarcerating addiction is not the solution to this problem. We must work across state agencies and with the private sector to improve treatment access and options.
This race cannot be about politics and special interests. There is a reason that Lady Justice wears a blindfold. I have spent my career setting aside personal bias and special interests to follow the law. To the pressing issues facing our state, I bring experience, trusted relationships, and a reputation for fairness, honesty and integrity. I will represent all South Dakotans and promise to never play politics with the rule of law.