Jason Ravnsborg

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Jason Ravnsborg
JasonHeadshot.jpg
31st Attorney General of South Dakota
Assumed office
January 5, 2019
GovernorKristi Noem
Preceded byMarty Jackley
Personal details
Born (1976-04-12) April 12, 1976 (age 44)
Cherokee, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of South Dakota (BS, MA, JD)
WebsiteGovernment website
Campaign website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1996–present
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/warsWar on Terror
 • Iraq Campaign
 • Afghanistan Campaign
AwardsBronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Army Achievement Medal

Jason Richard Ravnsborg[1] (born April 12, 1976) is an American attorney and politician from South Dakota. He is member of the Republican Party and was elected Attorney General of South Dakota in 2018. Ravnsborg ran in the Republican primaries for the 2014 United States Senate election in South Dakota, but lost to Mike Rounds. Before becoming attorney general, Ravnsborg served in the United States Army and was a lawyer in private practice.

On September 13, 2020, Governor Kristi Noem revealed that Attorney General Ravnsborg, had hit and killed a pedestrian while driving home from a Republican political fundraiser. He had initially called 911 and reported that he had hit a deer that had totaled his car. An investigation of the collision was initiated by the Department of Public Safety.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ravnsborg was born in Cherokee, Iowa, and graduated from Cherokee Washington High School and the University of South Dakota[3] with a B.S. in history and political science.[4]

While in college, he participated in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program and received a commission as an Army transportation officer. Later, Ravnsborg attended the University of South Dakota School of Law, graduating with his J.D. in 2001, as well as a M.A. in history from the University of South Dakota.

Military career[edit]

Ravnsborg has had four company commands during his military career. He also deployed on three different occasions. He was deployed to Germany in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003, to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, and to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal after coming under enemy fire in Iraq.[3] He was a battalion commander of the 394th Combat Service Support Battalion commanding over 600 soldiers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Missouri.[5][6] He is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve.

Legal career[edit]

He is licensed to practice law in the states of South Dakota and Iowa, as well as the federal district courts for South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal Court of Claims, and the United States Supreme Court.[7]

Ravnsborg clerked from 2001 to 2004. In 2004, he joined the law firm of Harmelink and Fox in Yankton, South Dakota. In 2006, he became a partner at the law firm Harmelink, Fox, and Ravnsborg in Yankton, South Dakota.[8] He remained at this position until his election as attorney general of South Dakota. He also served as deputy state's attorney for Union County.[9]

Political career[edit]

2014 United States Senate election[edit]

Ravnsborg ran for the United States Senate in the 2014 election.[3] He came in fifth in the Republican primary. The nomination went to Mike Rounds.[10]

Republican primary results[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Rounds 41,377 55.54%
Republican Larry Rhoden 13,593 18.25%
Republican Stace Nelson 13,179 17.69%
Republican Annette Bosworth 4,283 5.75%
Republican Jason Ravnsborg 2,066 2.77%
Total votes 74,490 100.00%

2018 South Dakota attorney general election[edit]

In the 2018 election, Ravnsborg ran for attorney general of South Dakota. He officially began his campaign on February 21, 2017. He maintained his law practice at the law firm of Harmelink, Fox, and Ravnsborg in Yankton and continued being a deputy state's attorney in Union County. He became the battalion commander of the 394th Combat Service Support Battalion of the Army Reserves, overseeing four company commands.[11]

Opposing Ravnsborg for the Republican nomination were Chief Deputy Attorney General Charlie McGuigan and Lawrence County State's Attorney John Fitzgerald,[12] as well as State Senator Lance Russell.[13] McGuigan suspended his campaign prior to the nominating convention.[14] In June 2018, Ravnsborg won his party's nomination at the Republican Convention in Pierre, South Dakota, by defeating Fitzgerald and Russell.[15][16] In the first round of convention voting, Ravnsborg lead with 47% of the vote; Russell had 27%. Fitzgerald had 26% which eliminated Fitzgerald. Ravnsborg then defeated Russell by a margin of 63% to 37% in the second vote.[17]

2018 Attorney General Election Map by County; Ravnsborg=Red; Seiler=Blue

The Democratic nominee was former U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler.[18]

Ravnsborg was endorsed in the general election by 40 county sheriffs,[19] the Fraternal Order of Police,[20] 30 state's attorneys, the National Rifle Association,[21] South Dakota Right to Life,[22] and the Family Heritage Alliance.[23]

Ravnsborg defeated Seiler in the November 6 general election.[24]

South Dakota Attorney General, General Election 2018[25]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Ravnsborg 179,071 55.16%
Democrat Randy Seiler 145,558 44.84%

Tenure as attorney General of South Dakota[edit]

Consumer and antitrust matters[edit]

The attorneys general of all 50 states, including Ravnsborg, supported the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACE) Act,[26] which passed Congress on overwhelming bipartisan majorities and became law in 2019.[27][28][29] In 2019, Ravnsborg joined his fellow Attorneys General by entering into an agreement with 12 phone companies to combat illegal robocalls.[30][31] In 2020, Ravnsborg joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 state and territory attorneys general on USTelecom's Industry Traceback Group to bolster technological capabilities to improve enforcement against illegal robocallers.[32]

In September 2019, Ravnsborg spoke outside the U.S. Supreme Court about the opening of a bipartisan antitrust investigation into Google by 50 state attorneys general.[33][34]

In May 2020, Ravnsborg was one of 11 state attorneys general from the Midwest and West who called for a federal antitrust investigation into the meatpacking industry; Ravnsborg argued that a disparity exists between the prices for liveweight cattle and the retail cost of beef, with four meatpacking companies that control about 80% of the cattle market.[35][36]

In 2020, Honda entered into a $85 million multistate settlement to resolve allegations that Honda did not inform its consumers that it used airbags that posed a significant risk of rupture; Ravnsborg said that South Dakota's share would be slightly more than $2 million.[37][38]

Guns[edit]

Ravnsborg stated during the campaign he would fight to uphold the District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago decisions from the United States Supreme Court. He is a National Rifle Association life member.[39] Ravnsborg testified in support of SB 47, a bill to allow carrying of guns without a permit.[40] Governor Noem signed the bill into law, making South Dakota the 14th state to enact such a law.[41]

Organizational involvement[edit]

In 2019, Ravnsborg was named to several standing committees of the National Association of Attorneys General.[42][43] The same year, Ravnsborg was appointed to the executive council for Special Olympics and Law Enforcement Torch Run.[44] In 2020, Ravnsborg became co-chair of the NAAG Gaming Committee with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.[45] Also in 2020, Ravnsborg was elected as Second Vice Chair and a member of the Executive Board of the Conference of Western Attorneys General.[46]

Criminal law[edit]

Probation and drug policy[edit]

Ravnsborg has unsuccessfully sought to restrict presumptive probation in South Dakota.[47][48] The South Dakota's presumptive probation law mandates that persons convicted of certain nonviolent lower-level felonies (such as drug possession or use) be sentenced to probation unless a judge determines that a "significant risk" to the public exists.[48] Ravnsborg made the proposal central to his campaign and tenure as AG, but failed to obtain sufficient support from the state legislature for the proposal in 2019.[48][47][49] State lawmakers and Governor Noem expressed concern about the proposal after a budget estimate projected that it would, if adopted, cost the state $54 million in additional jail and prison costs over a decade.[48][49] Ravnsborg pushed the proposal again in 2020.[48]

In 2019, Ravnsborg took the position that industrial hemp and all forms of cannabidiol (CBD oil) are illegal in South Dakota (see marijuana in South Dakota).[50][51] In 2020, Ravnsborg opposed a state legislative proposal to reduce the crime of "ingesting a controlled substance" from a felony to a class-one misdemeanor, arguing that the proposal would insufficiently deter drug use; the proposal was rejected by a state senate committee, leaving South Dakota as the only U.S. state that makes ingestion a felony.[52]

Death penalty[edit]

In 2019, Ravnsborg testified against a bill in the state legislature to prohibit capital punishment of any person with a severe mental illness.[53] The bill was defeated in committee 4–3, but it was voted on out of committee and was defeated by the state senate by a vote of 21−12.[53]

In 2019, Ravnsborg appeared in the 7th Circuit Court in Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, to request a warrant of execution for Charles Russell Rhines for the 1992 murder of Donnivan Schaeffer.[54] Judge Robert A. Mandel granted the warrant of execution.[55] The South Dakota Supreme Court subsequently denied Rhines's request for a stay of execution.[56] After appeals and a clemency petition were denied, Rhines was executed.[57][58][59][59][60]

Investigation of Minnehaha County state's attorney[edit]

In 2019, Governor Noem requested that Ravnsborg investigate Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan after he was absent for two months.[61] Ravnsborg's report determined that McGowan did not commit a crime, but outlined numerous alcohol-related incidents that Noem described as "unsettling";[62][63] after the report was released, McGowan issued an apology.[64] In December 2019, McGowan resigned his office, citing ill health and negative press attention.[65][66]

Lawsuit to block ERA ratification[edit]

In December 2019, Alabama, Louisiana, and South Dakota sued to prevent the implementation of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[67]

Missing persons[edit]

Ravnsborg introduced legislation in the state legislature to create a missing-person and runaway-child clearinghouse; the legislature unanimously approved the bill, and it was signed into law in 2020 by Governor Noem.[68][69][70][71][72] Ravnsborg has held "Missing Persons Mondays SD" to highlight one missing-persons case each week.[73][74]

Faithless electors cases[edit]

In 2020, Ravnsborg joined a coalition of 44 states and the District of Columbia in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the states of Colorado and Washington regarding the Electoral College and faithless electors in the cases of Chiafalo v. Washington and Colorado Department of State v. Baca; the brief supported the right of states to bind electors to their states' votes.[75][76] The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state may penalize a "faithless elector" for breaking their pledge by voting for someone other than the presidential candidate who won the state's popular vote.[77]

LGBT rights[edit]

In 2019, Ravnsborg signed onto an amicus brief in Bostock v. Clayton County, urging the Supreme Court to find that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides no protection against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.[78]

Presidential elector[edit]

At the 2020 Republican State Convention, Ravnsborg was elected to be one of South Dakota's three Republican presidential electors along with Governor Noem and Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden.[79]

Other[edit]

Ravnsborg filed an amicus brief in support of the Kimberly Rice Kaestner 1992 Trust in the United States Supreme Court in North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kimberly Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust.[80] Alaska, Nevada, and Texas joined with South Dakota in their amicus brief. In 2019, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the trust.[81]

In 2020, Ravnsborg announced that a second law-enforcement training academy would be opening in Minnehaha County.[82]

Fatal car crash[edit]

On September 12, 2020, while driving to his home in Pierre after a South Dakota Republican Party fundraiser about 110 miles (180 km) away,[83] Ravnsborg struck and killed a pedestrian on U.S. Highway 14, west of Highmore.[84] Immediately after the collision, he called the Hyde County Sheriff's Office and said he had struck a deer. Sheriff Mike Volek went to inspect Ravnsborg's car, which was too damaged to drive home. Volek then lent Ravnsborg his personal vehicle to drive home.[85]

The pedestrian, a 55-year-old man, had been walking along the side of the highway.[85] The victim's body was not discovered until the next morning, when Ravnsborg returned the sheriff's car. The crash is being investigated.[86][87] Ravnsborg pleaded guilty to six speeding infractions between 2014 and 2018, paying a fine for each.[88]

References[edit]

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  67. ^ Kim Chandler (December 18, 2019). "3 states file lawsuit seeking to block ERA ratification". Associated Press.
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  84. ^ "AG Ravnsborg hit, killed man walking along highway near Highmore Saturday night". Capital Journal. Pierre, South Dakota. September 14, 2020.
  85. ^ a b Katie Shepherd (September 15, 2020). "South Dakota's attorney general said he thought he hit a deer. The next day, he found a dead man's body in a ditch". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  86. ^
  87. ^ Fazio, Marie (September 14, 2020). "South Dakota Attorney General Is Involved in Fatal Car Crash". New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  88. ^ Danielle Ferguson (September 14, 2020). "Documents: South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has history of speeding". Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Marty Jackley
Attorney General of South Dakota
2019–present
Incumbent