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Natvig to run for South Dakota Attorney General as Ravnsborg hints uncertainty of candidacy

Natvig, who serves as the director of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, is running for the seat currently held by his boss, Jason Ravnsborg.

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David Natvig, director of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, speaks to the crowd gathered for a Veteran's Day lunch in 2020 at the Davison County Fairgrounds.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic
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PIERRE — Kimball-native and current director of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) David Natvig announced Tuesday he’s throwing his hat in the ring for the position of South Dakota Attorney General.

“I’ve spent my time at DCI building a strong team, making improvements and successfully combating the challenges facing the State,” Natvig said. “I hope to continue those efforts as Attorney General, combating drug dealers, putting new attention onto cold cases, and defending the rights of all South Dakotans.”

Who is Natvig?

Growing up in Kimball, Natvig graduated from South Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

He holds an extensive history in the U.S. military. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps; served as a Captain on active duty as a paratrooper with the 18th Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; was deployed as part of Operations Desert Shield/Storm; served as the Officer in Charge of the Green Beret Parachute team and traveled throughout the United States promoting the Special Operations Command. He’s received two Army Commendation Medals throughout his military tenure.

After his military service, Natvig returned to South Dakota and graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law, later serving as the Brule County State’s Attorney between 2003-2019, prosecuting thousands of crimes.

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In addition to his service to Brule County, he also served as the Buffalo County State’s Attorney and prosecuted criminal cases for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Courts, all while also managing an extensive civil practice through the Natvig Law Office.

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David Natvig, right, presents South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Jackson Brown, left, with his badge at the South Dakota Law Enforcement Training facility in Pierre in 2019.
Photo courtesy of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation

In 2019, Natvig became the director of the DCI, in which he sought to apprehend and pursue the prosecution of major drug dealers and criminal organizations. He served in part to use the first T3 Wiretap conducted by state law enforcement in decades, producing a case that led to the arrest of Hells Angels members in Minnesota and Colorado, relating to a drug and gun-running conspiracy with a Mexican cartel.

During his time with the DCI, he has built a working relationship with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that has led to the indictment of five Mexican Nationals who are the sources of methamphetamines, cocaine, and fentanyl in South Dakota.

In 2021, Natvig was elected the Vice-Chair of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Administration, which consists of state and federal law enforcement from six Midwestern states. In this position, he worked for funding to assist in prosecuting complex criminal cases with the U.S. Attorney’s office to prosecute cases federally, which Natvig said saves South Dakota taxpayers millions of dollars.

Running for his boss’ position

The DCI is a division of the Office of Attorney General, meaning Natvig is looking to unseat Jason Ravnsborg, who is currently suspended from his position pending the result of an impeachment trial.

Ravnsborg was impeached by the South Dakota House of Representatives in April for “crimes and malfeasance in office” stemming from a September 2020 traffic crash where Ravnsborg struck and killed Joe Boever, a pedestrian walking along a highway at night, with his vehicle.

According to a letter from Brent Gromer, a supervisory special agent with the DCI, to investigators with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Natvig was present in the room when Gromer explained what a forensic search of Ravnsborg’s phones would consist of.

Gromer’s letter made no indication that Natvig discussed details of the case with Ravnsborg, other than to note the two were briefly alone in Natvig’s office before Ravnsborg began asking about the forensic search.

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Ravnsborg, who was returning from a campaign event in Redfield at the time of the crash, is “weighing his options” as to whether he’ll continue his candidacy for attorney general, according to KOTA Territory.

Ravnsborg’s impeachment will head to the South Dakota Senate in June for a trial to decide whether or not he shall be removed from office. If two-thirds of the chamber vote to convict, a second two-thirds majority vote could disqualify him from office.

Natvig’s campaign did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Nativg’s campaign and the state of his relationship with Ravnsborg.

Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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