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Gov. Noem requests investigation into Minnehaha County state’s attorney

Noem calls incident a "matter of public interest"

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Gov. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.

Gov. Kristi Noem sent a letter Wednesday to South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg formally requesting his office look into the circumstances of an extended absence from duty by Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan.

“A matter of public interest was reported by the media on at least two occasions regarding the extended absence of the elected official holding the office of the Minnehaha County State’s Attorney,” Noem states in the letter. “The Attorney General has the duty of exercising supervision over state’s attorneys in matters pertaining to their duties of office. Due to these media reports, the public information that has been disseminated, and several inquiries into the Office of the Governor, our Office formally requests an investigation into this matter.”

McGowan was absent from his office for several weeks starting in July, citing health issues. McGowan’s absence began after police officers responded to McGowan’s home July 13. No records of the call were made public, raising the question if police treated the incident differently because he is a public official.

“Further, the governor has the power and duty to remove officials who ‘willfully fail, neglect or refuse to perform any of the duties imposed upon him by, or to enforce any of the provisions of law relating to intoxication of liquors, or who shall willfully fail, neglect, or refuse to perform any duties imposed upon them by law, or who shall be guilty of intoxication or drunkeness, or who shall be guilty of the violation of any law, or who shall assist or connive in the violation of any law, or who shall be grossly incompetent to perform the duties of his office.’ SDCL 3-17-3,” Noem continued in the letter. “An investigation is necessary to determine if grounds for removal exist or not. This is a matter of public interest and swift resolution is prudent.”

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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