New report details McGowan Snapchat messages and requests to drink alcohol with employees

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – No charges will be filed against McGowan over a 911 call to his home and his absence from office that followed. But Governor Kristi Noem has released Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s report into the matter and it indicates that McGowan may have abused alcohol and sent inappropriate Snapchat messages to coworkers.

The Attorney General’s investigation into an incident involving the Minnehaha County State’s Attorney is complete and Governor Noem calls the findings, “unsettling.” However, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says there isn’t evidence to pursue any charges against McGowan.

McGowan told KELOLAND News last month that he was suffering from PTSD over botched knee surgery from years ago and ongoing pain.
But the attorney general’s report says his family was trying to hold an intervention on July 13 for alcohol, but McGowan refused treatment.

“I was home by myself. I did have a few drinks to numb the pain and to self medicate. There was a third party aware that I was struggling with the PTSD. And they called 911 to do a well being check on me,” McGowan said.

The report confirms that a third party did call 911, but it was after McGowan sent that person a suicide threat via video.

Here’s what McGowan told us in an exclusive interview:

Angela Kennecke: Were you ever a danger to yourself?

McGowan: No. Absolutely not.

Angela Kennecke: Were you intoxicated? Were you drunk?

McGowan: I had several drinks.. when law enforcement was there… No, I was always fine. I was not under the influence of any drugs, I did drink during that time but law enforcement quickly checked on me and I was absolutely fine.

KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke asked McGowan about reports that he had a gun when first responders arrived at his house.

Angela Kennecke: You mentioned earlier there were rumors going around and I had heard some of those rumors as well. Was there any gun involved at your home?

McGowan: No, no. I have guns. I have a gun on me right now.

The report says McGowan did not handle any sort of weapon in front of law enforcement when they responded to his home. The reports also says that responders and a mental health professional assessed he was “not at risk to his own or others’ safety and the scene was cleared.”

Angela Kennecke: Were you ever a danger to yourself?

McGowan: No. Absolutely not.

The Attorney General’s report also ruled that McGowan was not given preferential treatment because of his elected position.

Investigators also spoke with McGowan’s staff and concluded he did check in with staff, but wasn’t on “medical leave” because as an elected official, he’s not entitled to that.

McGowan’s staff also reported that he often sent messages to them throughout the day through Snapchat that said, “Bar?” indicating they should go to the the bar to drinks after work.

McGowan told investigators those messages were a joke and only intended to relieve stress on hectic days. Employees also reported that McGowan requested that they bring alcohol to his house during a work day. McGowan claims that only happened on occasion and on a Friday afternoon.

Employees also say he was sometimes too drunk to drive to work and asked for rides. McGowan claims he only did that when he’d been drinking the night before.

The report also details an incident where McGowan told a female employee that she could have a day off if she bought a bottle of alcohol and he could come to her house to drink it.

She said she did so and he came over and it made her uncomfortable and he left on a bicycle. There are also reports that McGowan was drunk at a professional conference. McGowan admits to having a couple of drinks because he was nervous.

KELOLAND News reached out to Aaron McGowan for a comment. This is what he said:

“I have not received a copy of the report yet.  I’m told it contains a lot of unnamed sources of vague information.  I’m also told it contains several inaccurate claims without dates or specifics.  Unfortunately, I was never given an opportunity to challenge any of these false claims.  It’s difficult to prove a negative.  Once I receive the report, I will review it and decide if it warrants any response.”

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