Home > SD 2014 Ballot, South Dakota > SD AG Marty Jackley speaking at the Brown County Republican Reagan Lunch

SD AG Marty Jackley speaking at the Brown County Republican Reagan Lunch

November 2, 2014
Marty Jackley speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/23/14

Marty Jackley speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/23/14

On October 23rd South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley was the guest speaker for the Brown County Republicans at their monthly Reagan Lunch. Jackley is currently seeking re-election for his second term as Attorney General. There are quite a few things I disagree with Jackley on, but I will say he actually spoke about a lot more topics than the usual politician at these type of events. He also received a good number of questions. If nothing else he has given me a lot of info to blog about!

Jackley’s Remarks

Jackley spoke about the job of the AG. He said a big part of the AG’s office is to handle violent crime in South Dakota.  He said he always believes in leading by example and has taken some of the more violent and death penalty cases himself. In particular he mentioned a murder trial that had finished this summer that ended with Matthew Tornquist being sentenced to life in jail with no opportunity of parole. Additionaly he said the AG’s office has moved forward on the Berget Case and asked for an execution in May 2015. Personally I think South Dakota needs to get rid of the death penalty. It should never be the domain of the state to murder anyone. And that is exactly what the death penalty is: murder. But his involvement in these types of cases do back up his assertion that he is a hands-on AG.

Then Jackley moved on to talk about working with local law enforcement agencies around the state in preventative efforts. As part of prevention his office is seeing meth cases “skyrocketing”. He is working with local law enforcement and the legislature to slow down the rise of meth use. In particular he thanked Rep David Novstrup and Sen Al Novstrup for their support in trying to stop the production of meth. I believe he was referring to SB 24, which makes it even more of an inconvenience when people go buy cold medicines at the drug store. Jackley said the new tracking has already “blocked several hundred inappropriate sales of methamphetamine”. Further, he noted no actual prosecutions come from these blocked sales. It is just keeping people from buying the product that can be used for meth production. He also noted the AG’s office is speaking to a large pharmaceutical manufacture about “smart drugs”. These smart drugs cannot be compounded, meaning they would be useless for meth production. Jackley noted that issue may come up in the 2015 legislative session. Personally I think South Dakota, and the AG’s office, are on the wrong track by continuing the failed War on Drugs. That doesn’t mean I think drugs are good, but prohibition has done nothing but create criminals in situations where there are no actual victims. South Dakota’s continued support of the War on Drugs has also brought South Dakota to having the 16th highest incarceration rate in the world. I’m not sure that is something the AG’s office should be proud of.

Another area of the AG’s office that Jackley talked about was government power. He said it is part of the AG’s office responsibility to stop the government when it has gone too far. Jackley called out the EPA for expanding its power without Congressional authority. And after the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rules against the EPA they just do a “end-round” and find another way to do what they were never actually given authority to do. He says he is part of a groups of AG’s from both parties around the country that are trying to fight against the acts of the EPA. Jackley said environmental protection can best be handled at the local level by zoning authorities. He said the State DENR also works to protect South Dakota’s resources. The closest EPA agent is in Denver according to Jackley. He says the SD DENR and the AG understand South Dakota and can better enforce environmental protections in South Dakota than the EPA can. Here is an issue I am fully supportive of Jackley on! I do think he has been fighting against federal overreach fairly consistently. There are a few times I think his office didn’t step forward when it should have, but overall I’m glad to see he is supporting Federalism in the State/Federal government relationship.

The last part his opening remarks was to talk about his campaign. He said he is taking the campaign serious and is “out on the trail”. All I will say on this is that there are enough things about how Jackley runs the office that I won’t be voting for him; but at the same time I won’t be voting for his opponent. I don’t feel either candidate is worthy of a vote from anyone liberty oriented.

Question about ISIS

Jackley received a question about ISIS. He didn’t have much to say on it because State Attorney General’s don’t receive a lot information about such issue. He noted that US Attorneys actually receive briefings on this type of issue and would be more informed. I found that interesting because I had assumed AG’s got the same info as US Attorneys. Jackley did note that ISIS is “serious and the President needed to act sooner”. I think most people of the US would agree with him. Personally I think our current interventionist foreign policy is doing more to expand terrorist threats and there are be better ways to curtail terrorism. But sadly neither ruling party really cares to look at other means of handling foreign policy.

Public Safety Improvement Act

In 2013 the South Dakota Legislature passed SB 70, which was marketed as the Public Safety Improvement Act. Jackley was asked about how the progress from this reform was progressing. Jackley said the AG’s office is “moving forward cautiously” on this “prison reform act”. At its core, Jackley said this act looked at how things were being done in prisons and that the spike of prison inmates were from drug-related offenses. Before SB70 all of these offenses were a ten-year felony. After the act there were three tiers based upon use, distribution, and production. Drug users are now eligible for drug courts. He said because of growing meth use it is hard to determine if the program is working better. Jackley also noted this system does shift some costs to the local level, so in the future the Legislature may need to provide more resources to Counties. Finally he said he is concerned with the Federal government doing the same thing the State of South Dakota has done. He said Eric Holder hasn’t been straight forward with people about it. Use of controlled substances are a misdemeanor under Federal Law, so only those distributing or producing controlled substances are felonies on the Federal level. Jackley says Holder talking about releasing felons at the Federal level for drug use is inconsistent with how Federal law actually works because it isn’t drug users that are federal felons. Jackley contends the Federal drug felons are the violent criminals. I’ll just reiterate that I believe South Dakota and US are wrong in continuing the failed War on Drugs. There are other ways to tackle social issues such as drug use without using the criminal system.

Governor Jackley?

Jackley was asked if he would be running for Governor in the future. He said he always works on things one step at a time. He noted he has moved his family to Pierre and will stay in State Government as long as the residents of SD want him to serve. Jackley didn’t’ say he would run for Governor in the future, but he also definitely didn’t say he wouldn’t.

Ballot Questions

Jackley was asked about the ballot questions on the SD 2014 ballot. All he really did was reiterate what the AG’s office had already released as part of their requirement to explain ballot questions. Here are the three AG explanations created for this election: IM 17, IM 18, Const Amend Q.

Marriage Amendment

Jackley was asked about the Marriage Amendment in South Dakota. He noted there was statute that existed in South Dakota defining marriage between a man and a woman. In 2006 the people then voted upon it and passed it as a SD Constitutional Amendment. Jackley noted that is currently the law in South Dakota. He noted there are a number of AG’s that went to SCOTUS and asked for a clear legal decision, but SCOTUS wouldn’t answer. Jackley did say this is a tough issue and that the “people of South Dakota should define what marriage is” and that it shouldn’t be up to judges or AG’s to determine what defines marriage. He wouldn’t say whether he agrees with the current law, only that it is his job as AG to uphold the current law. In the future Jackley expects more lawsuits to keep coming forward due to the non-action from SCOUTS. He said even if SCOTUS rules against the states it would at least provide clear guidance.


Yes, there was an EB-5 question for Jackley. Democrats have turned this into a partisan issue recently, but I’ve heard just as many Republicans (if not more) in the Aberdeen area worried about EB-5 than I have heard from Democrats. The morning of this event Aberdeen News had the front page story saying the FBI was investigating SDRC and EB-5. The question was about law enforcement coming in shortly before an election and announcing something like this. Jackley said as AG he had waited until after the Primary election to deal with two cases that had come to him (including his opponents wife Annette Bosworth) so as not to sway the election one way or the other. Jackley noted the Federal authorities have been looking into this long before the AG’s office was involved. Last year GOAC received a federal grand jury subpoena that was then passed on by the Governor to the AG’s office. He says the AG’s office then investigated and reported what he believes was some wrongdoing. Jackley was sure to point out his investigation was done in October of 2013 when he authorized a felony arrest warrant. He was careful to say the warrant was for what he believes was wrongdoing, he worded that carefully because there was not a subsequent trial or grand jury to determine if there truly was felony activity. Jackley asked what the federal authorities have been doing in the year since last October. He noted the FBI’s current subpoena was done in a way to make it a public record. He said as AG he has been trying to be as transparent and open as possible when allowed. He also reiterated that the evidence the AG’s office found had no connections with Mike Rounds at all.

I won’t go into the whole EB-5 situation in this post. But I will back Jackley on part. I believe he acted right in refraining from going after Bosworth until after the Primary election. If the FBI had released its subpoena in a way to create publicity that close to an election it does look suspicious and like the possible use of federal resources to electioneer. Additionally, I would add that I believe it is unlikely Rounds will ever be found to have done anything illegal. But at the same time I do think there were a lot of unethical things done in regards to EB-5 in South Dakota, and Rounds may or may not have been involved with breach of ethics.

Checks and Balances

Jackley went on to a conversation about Checks and Balances after talking about EB-5. He said the federal level does not have the checks and balances that exist in South Dakota. He noted the AG and SD Legislature are both elected and actually create some checks and balances. If the AG’s office acts in a way the Legislature doesn’t like, they can act through GOAC or defund his department. He says the current AG of the US enforces whatever laws he wants. Examples Jackley gave include: drug laws, immigration laws, marriage laws. Jackley noted that State AG’s also typically work quite well with the US Ag, regardless of party; but that has simply not happened with Holder in office. It is odd seeing a state AG speaking against the US AG. Remember, these are all lawyers and they typically stick together. With a quick Google search it can be seen that many AG’s from around the US and both parties have been consistently speaking against Holder. Perhaps it is good Holder announced his resignation.


There are some local residents concerned about whether Burt Elliot should be in the District 3 House race because he allegedly lives in District 2 and only rents an Apartment in District 3 to run for office (meaning he doesn’t actually sleep in District 3, only rents a place to keep an address). The question to Jackley was specifically about perjury. Jackley said perjury cases are always difficult to prove, even for the AG’s office. He also noted it is up to the Secretary of State to determine whether ballot access requirements have been met. Going back to what he said earlier, even if Jackley would somehow become involved in this situation, nothing would happen until after the election. That would also likely involve a US Attorney if this became a criminal issue.

But for ballot access issues he said that is not really an AG issue. Later when talking individually with people he was asked about the AG’s office getting involved if the SD Legislature refuses to seat Elliot. Due to prescience from  the SD Judicial system he says the Executive branch (including the AG’s office) likely could not legally get involved. I think the big lesson to take out of this as that no matter what happens with Elliot, it is unlikely the AG’s office will be involved.

My Conclusion

Jackley covered a heck of a lot of issues for what is usually a meet and greet type of meeting. As I said before, I won’t vote for him. But he is willing to at least speak on a number of topics when he knows there are people there that disagree with him. I also wish he had covered some of his work on consumer fraud protection in this meeting. Maybe I’ll catch up with him some time after the election to see what he will focus on for consumer fraud protection in the next four years.


  1. No comments yet.
  1. November 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: