PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Two of the top appointees who came into office with former South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravsnborg in January 2019 are now out of work, too.
Mark Vargo, who began duties Tuesday as South Dakota’s interim attorney general, gave word on his first day to chief of staff Tim Bormann and state Division of Criminal Investigation director David Natvig that they would no longer be employed.
South Dakota senators had voted last Tuesday to remove Ravnsborg from office for crimes and malfeasance committed in the death of pedestrian Joe Boever.
Vargo, who was Pennington County state’s attorney, and Clay County state’s attorney Alexis Tracy prosecuted Ravnsborg at the Senate trial.
Governor Kristi Noem announced the appointment of Vargo on Tuesday. One of his first decisions was that Bormann and Natvig were out.
Delegates at the South Dakota Republican convention on Saturday nominated Marty Jackley as their candidate for attorney general in the November general election.
Jackley, who was attorney general for a decade, lost to Noem in the 2018 Republican primary for governor. Jackley on Saturday edged aside Natvig, who had announced just weeks earlier that he was running for the nomination.
Ravnsborg had texted Bormann and Natvig after the car he was driving crashed into Boever on the shoulder of US 14 at the west edge of Highmore on the night of September 12, 2020. Ravnsborg and the local sheriff told investigators they looked to see what he had hit but didn’t find anything.
Ravnsborg drove the sheriff’s personal car back to Pierre that night. Bormann followed Ravnsborg back to the crash scene the next morning to return the car. That’s when Ravnsborg found Boever’s body a few feet off the north side of the highway.
Both Bormann and Natvig testified before a House special committee that investigated the matter, but neither was called as a witness at Ravnsborg’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Democrats will decide whether to nominate a candidate for attorney general when they meet in Fort Pierre on July 8-9.
Vargo said Tuesday he will return to the Pennington County state’s attorney office after the election winner takes office. He plans to hold a meeting with most of the attorney general office’s staff on Wednesday.
Vargo noted that he’s never argued a case before the South Dakota Supreme Court. That is one of the experiences he would like to have in the next six months.
“I’m really excited for what this can bring,” he said. He added, “It is certainly my hope to bring fresh eyes to the attorney general’s office.”
Vargo doesn’t plan to name an acting DCI director to replace Natvig, at least not immediately. He said there are two assistant directors.
Asked whether he plans to remove anyone else, Vargo said, “It is a last resort as far as I’m concerned.” He added, “I know most of them are dedicated professionals and I need to get out of their way.”