Noem appoints Vargo to replace ousted Ravnsborg

Pennington County States Attorney Mark Vargo, file photo. Gov. Kristi Noem tabbed Vargo to...
Pennington County States Attorney Mark Vargo, file photo. Gov. Kristi Noem tabbed Vargo to replace Jason Ranvsborg as South Dakota Attorney General after Ravnsborg was impeached. (file)(KOTA)
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 10:52 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A man who played a key role in the removal of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has now been tabbed to replace him.

Gov. Kristi Noem has appointed Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo to be the state’s next Attorney General, effective Tuesday, according to a press release from the governor’s office. He will serve in the role until voters select the next Attorney General later this year.

“I am deeply honored, and excited about the opportunity to do something a little different,” Vargo said to Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory. “It is different than being in Pennington County, doing that job, dealing with different agencies.”

The announcement comes one week after the state Senate voted to impeach Ravnsborg, removing him from office and prohibiting him from seeking any state office in the future.

Ravnsborg faced impeachment over his role in a September 2020 crash where he struck and killed Joe Boever while he walked alongside Highway 14 near Highmore. Ravnsborg ultimately pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, neither of which found him criminally liable for Boever’s death. However, Ravnsborg continued facing scrutiny after investigators testified they felt Ravnsborg had not been entirely truthful with them, and lawmakers in both chambers ended up voting to impeach Ravnsborg.

Vargo was the lead prosecutor in Ravnsborg’s Senate impeachment trial. During closing statements, Vargo argued Ravnsborg lost the right to be Attorney General by his actions following the crash.

“Mark Vargo returns integrity, experience and stability to the Attorney General’s Office,” Noem said in a statement. “He is an outstanding prosecutor who has the respect of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors statewide.”

South Dakota voters will decide Vargo’s replacement in the November General Election. The new Attorney General will be sworn in Jan. 7, 2023. Former Attorney General Marty Jackley recently won the Republican nomination, and currently does not face an opponent in the November election.

Vargo sent out a press release saying he is “humbled and privileged,” to serve as the temporary Attorney General. The full response can be read below.

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