South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is running for governor. He joined us in the studio for a look at his campaign initiatives. You may listen to the conversation in its entirety here.
Lori Walsh: Welcome back to In the Moment. I'm Lori Walsh. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is running for governor. He's joining us in the studios at the University of Sioux Falls to take a look at his campaign initiatives and more. Marty Jackley, welcome. Thanks for being here.
Marty Jackley: Lori, thanks for having me, today.
Lori Walsh: We don't usually get to sit down in person. We usually get to talk on the phone, so this is a treat. Are you headed ... What's the scenario? Are you traveling the state now, or ...
Marty Jackley: I'm headed back to Pierre tonight. I had an opportunity to be in Sioux Falls this morning working a little bit on the United States Supreme Court case that we're doing for Main Street America, and so I had an opportunity to be on the ... working with some lawyers that are helping me get ready for that case.
Lori Walsh: This is Quill, is the sales tax?
Marty Jackley: It is. It's the internet sales tax that we will be arguing April 17th, so getting a lot of help from, now, the President of the United States to about 45 attorneys general and a lot of good advice to help us give a strong argument for Main Street America.
Lori Walsh: Right. Let's talk a little bit about running for governor. Why now? Why does this make sense for you, and is it a natural progression to go from a state's attorney general to a state's governor?
Marty Jackley: Well, certainly in South Dakota, historically, that has happened. There have been seven great attorney generals that became great governors, from Mickelson Sr. to Janklow to Farrar. It is a logical progression, because as attorney general, you get to see a lot of the inner working of state government. The people of South Dakota get to see you. They gain a level of trust in the work that you do, and I think it simply makes sense for me, personally, that based upon having been in private business, having been a United States attorney, and having been attorney general's really positioned me to be able to help lead South Dakota forward.
Lori Walsh: All right. You and I are the same age, and we were talking a little bit before we turned on the microphones about the first time we voted, and you graduated from Sturgis High School in 1988. I graduated from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls in 1988. Did you think, at that time, that a life of public service was something to aspire to? Tell me a little bit about growing up and having that example in your life.
Marty Jackley: Well, certainly, public service was really always in our house growing up. My dad was the local state's attorney, the prosecutor in town. My mom was a school teacher. In fact, she taught me accounting growing up in high school. It was always there, but when I graduated from high school, I went to engineering school, became an electrical engineer, went to law school, and then was in private business. It really took John Thune in making the United States Attorney at age 35 that really brought me into that full-time public service.
Lori Walsh: A lot of your initiatives, or at least an important initiative for you is looking at keeping kids in the state. I graduated. I left immediately. I came back. You stayed, went to South Dakota School of Mines, graduated there onto USD. Why did you stay, and what do you think needs to happen for the best and the brightest to stay in the state and make their careers here now?
Marty Jackley: I can tell you that I stayed in South Dakota because I love our state. We have a great state. We have a lot of good things that go on here, from good jobs to it's a very safe state. There's things that we can improve on, and that's really why I'm running for governor, to give kids that opportunity that, really, I saw in being able to stay here. I have two young children. Isabella's 11. Michael's 14. South Dakota's going to be introduced to them in some of our ads that are actually already running right now, but that's important to me, to be able to work hard to give them more opportunities, opportunities for those better paying jobs, making sure they continue to have a strong education as they progress. That's not just through high school, but that's whether it's tech school or universities that we have, and to make sure that we're doing everything as a state to build our infrastructure so that those opportunities exist right here in South Dakota.
Lori Walsh: Let's talk about the administration of Governor Dennis Daugaard. What do you think has been particularly successful that you think, "If I get elected, I'm really happy to be standing on that platform." Then, let's move into what needs to be done next.
Marty Jackley: I won't just limit it to Governor Daugaard. We, in South Dakota, have had good Republican governors that have always balanced our budget. I mean, that's something that Washington hasn't figured out. We spend tax dollars wisely. I mean, we have a $4.7 billion budget here in South Dakota, and our governors have maintained low taxes, limited government, and that's important. If you look specifically at Governor Daugaard, he has done a lot of really good things with workforce development, and that's something that I want to continue. Certainly, I want to build on that. I have my own ideas for, like, Jobs for America Graduates that I serve with 12 governors on a board and some more things that we can do here in South Dakota.
You'll see, with some of the initiatives that I have put out, an emphasis on technology, Connect South Dakota. Some of it goes back to being an electrical engineer, but being able to see those are really important jobs. But having that infrastructure available, too, allows more of our students and kids to remain right here in South Dakota and good economic development, but I would say Governor Daugaard has done an excellent job in laying the foundation for that workforce development, working to strengthen education. Again, this legislative session, the legislature, again, put dollars, increases towards education and health care, and that's important.
Lori Walsh: He had some tough decisions to make. Financially, when we look at the budget, you talked about sort of fiscal responsibility. What do you look forward to the most? I mean, do you look forward to increasing that? Talk a little bit about economic growth and how we can do more, and how can we position ourselves to do more economically?
Marty Jackley: Certainly. I mean, you look at what an executive does, and I saw this as United States Attorney and as attorney general, and frankly, as a partner in a business. You have to make tough decisions. I mean, it's something that Washington isn't doing, which is why they're not solving our problems. When you look at those tough decisions, I mean, that's what you do with a $4.7 billion budget, 13,800 plus employees. You have to make hard decisions, and there are challenges that we have in a state, but we can overcome those challenges. We always have, and we do it with low taxes, limited government, working together. I mean, you look at this legislative session as attorney general. We had a very bold package on public safety. We addressed head on the meth and opioid dealers, manufacturers, and that built bipartisan support, Republican and Democrat. Human trafficking. Again, took that head on, again, this legislative session and are doing good things.
That's part why I think being attorney general prepares you to make those hard decisions. Sitting in the attorney general's chair, I work every day with our sheriffs, our chiefs, and state's attorneys to make the hard decisions, whether or not we are going to look at taking somebody's freedom away that's hurting people, looking at how we're treating and helping victims. I think it's what really prepares an attorney general to take the next step and be a governor.
Lori Walsh: Criminal justice reform, juvenile justice reform has been, since I've been at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and before, a topic of conversation, and we're sort of in this ... Would you say we're in a transition phase after the legislation was passed, sort of tweaking that legislation and figuring out what's next? How do you see that going forward as, you know, you get complaints from school superintendents who say, "This is affecting us, that we don't have consequences for kids who are causing problems," or a new legislative package passes and local sheriffs say, "Our jails are filling up"? What's next from the state when it comes to that? How is that going to look eight years from now?
Marty Jackley: We took a giant step this legislative session with the attorney general's package to improve upon that. We did it, I think, in the right way. We looked at what is the problem, especially with the national meth and opioid epidemic, and we gave law enforcement the tools that we were asking. I mean, that had a united front of support from the state's attorneys to the sheriffs to the chiefs. The governor even supported it, and I think that's an important package to be heading in the right direction. When you look at the problems we face in the juvenile system, we need a place to send those kids that are significantly disruptive or committing serious violent crime. We've always had that place in South Dakota, and we don't have it now. It affects law enforcement. It affects our educators, and I think we, as a state, need to invest in a facility that ... There are just simply those juveniles that are causing our teachers a lot of disruption. There are those juveniles that may be very dangerous and harming other juveniles, that we need a place to send them to.
Some of it, I truly believe, is the threat of that, that when we had the STAR Academy, that was a place where either a teacher or a sheriff could say, "This is your last chance. If you get into significant trouble again, you're going to go there," and I think it made a big difference. If I'm blessed to become governor, I want to make sure I'm working with the addiction side, the mental illness side, but having a facility for juveniles that we may have to send them, because not every community in our 66 counties can afford or has that juvenile facility, that treatment facility for drugs or for mental illness. We, as a state, need to address that.
I, as attorney general, have been taking steps in that direction with the recent opioid lawsuit, where we have taken on three major drug manufacturers. These are allegations right now, but they have created significant problems in our state with respect to the opioid epidemic, and they have a level of responsibility to fix that. That's what that complaint alleges, and that's, I think, an opportunity for our state to use any dollars that come from that lawsuit to help with the juvenile, mental illness, and treatment side of ... and the prevention side. I mean, I've always said, as attorney general, prevention, treatment, and reasonable enforcement.
Lori Walsh: I want to make sure I understand this clearly, because we're talking ... You mentioned STAR Academy, and that was just sold this calendar year to investors in the Custer area. Do you see another facility like STAR Academy opening again? Do you see the same thing opening again? Did we make the wrong decision?
Marty Jackley: I think we need to look at historically and learn from what we've had and make it better. I'm saying that we need a location in South Dakota where our teachers and our law enforcement officers can place that troubled juvenile that is being disruptive and hurtful to other juveniles. I'm not saying it has to be the exact model of STAR Academy, but it needs to be a location that communities can rely upon to send those troubled juveniles. It also needs to be a facility that addresses mental illness along with treatment, and when I say treatment, that's primarily meth and opioid addiction.
Lori Walsh: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Did we make a mistake in closing STAR?
Marty Jackley: I certainly don't have all the facts on what it requires to administer STAR Academy. I think we've made a mistake in not having a location that law enforcement and educators can rely upon to send those juveniles that are being harmful in the communities and the classrooms.
Lori Walsh: The money to pay for a location or more than one location treatment centers, that ... Would you see an increase in possible, with litigation, could bring some money in that would help flow directly to treatment centers or services?
Marty Jackley: Yes. In fact, when I rolled out the lawsuit last week, and I talked about what the causes of action or what I was alleging as attorney general against those three major pharmaceutical manufacturers, those counts, the allegations that I brought specifically address it in the relief, that they've created a public nuisance across the nation and right here in South Dakota, and they have a level of responsibility of correcting that problem. We actually ... When I rolled out that lawsuit, I talked, also, about the tobacco litigation where we brought in the 27.5 million to education fund. We have a similar fund in South Dakota for treatment and health care, and I think that presents an excellent opportunity for me, as attorney general, to continue to resolve that lawsuit and bring those dollars in to, specifically, a facility or facilities. I mean, I think we need to really look at a West River and an East River solution and put those dollars to good use. Again, that needs to include juveniles, mental illness, along with drug addiction treatment.
Lori Walsh: When we specifically talk about opioids, do you see that as an ongoing service, or do you think we could make progress and eliminate much of the problem?
Marty Jackley: When you look at South Dakota with 596,000 legal prescriptions last year, alone, of 13.9 million pills, this isn't short-term, but I think good leadership is having a short-term plan and a long-term plan. That's why you see, as attorney general, I rolled out the short term plan, which was Senate Bill 63, in addressing the drug dealers head on. The long-term plan is a lawsuit with the opioid manufacturers to provide the funding and the mechanism for that needed prevention and treatment programs right here in South Dakota.
Lori Walsh: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Let's talk about meth, because that's an ongoing thing, and you and I have spoken about this before. There was a time when the main meth problem was everything from somebody in a rural area in a home creating a meth lab to a kid in school bringing, basically, a meth lab in a backpack. That seems to not be the conversation as much as it is coming in from outside the state. How do you know where the meth is coming from? What kind of numbers do we have about that right now?
Marty Jackley: Almost 100% of the meth is coming out of state. Last year alone, we only had a ... less than a dozen manufacturing cases here in South Dakota, and so we know that it's coming, really, from our southern border. Once again, Washington is not solving our problems.
Lori Walsh: How do we know that?
Marty Jackley: We know it from the arrests. When we do the arrests, and we do what's called the debriefing of the dealers, of the users, we find out where those drugs come from, and they're all coming from the southern border. That's what every attorney general sees. I just finished being the chairman of the nation's attorney generals, and you talk to any one of my brothers and sisters, I call them, and they'll tell you it's the southern border. That's why the attorney general stepped up when the federal government wasn't doing anything about it and actually entered into agreements with the Mexican government to begin address what's happening on the border. We as a state, though, have moved forward with the attorney general's legislation this session to give law enforcement the tools to stop that dealing right here in South Dakota with stronger penalties and more tools at getting at the actual dealers.
Lori Walsh: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Let's pivot here a little bit, because I think we could talk about that topic for about an hour with you, but I want to make sure we cover some of the other important initiatives. Open government. How far do we have to go as the State of South Dakota to really improve our open and transparent, honest government?
Marty Jackley: We need to continue to improve upon open and honest government right here in South Dakota, and that's why, as a governor candidate, I have a strong initiative to open up state government. What I ask South Dakotans is, though, look at which candidate isn't just talking, which candidate has a history of action on open government. As attorney general, I partnered with Governor Daugaard, and we had the governor's and attorney general's task force that brought important open government legislation. Last year, as attorney general, I again formed an open government taskforce that brought forth positive legislation. The booking photos are now public.
Every time I walk in a courtroom as a prosecutor and try a case, I support having cameras in that courtroom so that the public can see what prosecutors and law enforcement are doing in our criminal justice system. I feel very strongly about it. That's why I brought legislation, also, the previous year to address the corruption issues that I've had to prosecute to say we need to have whistleblower opportunities. We need to have more openness to avoid this so that on the oversight side, and we get the public's help with oversight if we open up government. I've been a strong proponent of making sure we put as much information out there, of course, respecting people's privacy. Medical records, certain other sensitive areas, we don't want to hurt that privacy side of it, but it's important that we keep open records across our state.
Lori Walsh: Your thoughts on emails, opening up emails? Are they something that needs to be looked at?
Marty Jackley: I believe so. I mean, certainly, as long as they don't contain that very private medical type information dealing with mental illness or other protected areas, why not? We should make sure all this information is made available so that the public can see it. In fact, I'm the one candidate that released my travel records. Some of the candidates were raising issue with my travel records. I laughed at it, released my travel records, and showed that I did spend $1,900 last quarter on travel and I can show exactly where I spent the travel. That's the kind of attorney general I've been and the kind of governor I'll be.
Lori Walsh: Connecting South Dakota. Let's talk a little bit about things like broadband accents and telemedicine and why that's important, and how do we make traction on it if there's not an enormous budget to work with?
Marty Jackley: Connecting South Dakota is so important, because that's where our new and better jobs come from. That's economic development. I have a passion for this area as an electrical engineer. Fiber optics and lasers were what I did my senior design project on. I've been able to see what's happening at DSU and across our state. We have the technology available to do this. If we do this right, these are those jobs that will keep our kids and grandkids right here in South Dakota. It's important. We need to invest in it, and there are opportunities to invest in it. What is happening across our state with two wonderful engineering schools at Mines and SDSU coupled with DSU, we have the power to get this done, and it's a very important piece of economic development right here in South Dakota.
Lori Walsh: What's in the way? What are the barriers that need to be overcome?
Marty Jackley: Some of the big issues are just investing in some of the equipment. The technology's there. We need ... in equipment. Some of the other challenges, certainly ... rural side of things and making sure that we partner in areas that we need to partner, but we can get this done with strong leadership.
Lori Walsh: If you're just tuning in, my guest is South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley. We're talking today about his campaign for governor. We've talked a little bit about job creation and workforce development and ... for high school students, college students, but let's talk about the people who are just passing through, the visitor and what needs to be done, again, next in that area.
Marty Jackley: Tourism industry here in South Dakota. I mean, we have a beautiful state all across our state. Whether it was the recent Pheasant Fest, whether it's the Sturgis motorcycle rally, the Corn Palace, you go all across our state, the beautiful Black Hills, tremendous opportunities. That's why I unrolled, basically, what I would call the tourism initiative, talking about how to invest to work with the tourism industry, from pheasant hunting to the Million Dollar Match that we ... successful program ... tourism. Part of it is stay for another day type program where we convince of a great state. Stay another day. Enjoy South Dakota, and spend your dollars right here. It's those kind of programs that really lower our taxes here. When we bring in the tourism dollars, it's good for businesses. It's what employees people. It helps pay their health care, strengthens education, and keeps our taxes low right here in South Dakota, which is so important.
Lori Walsh: Arts funding at the state level is part of the tourism initiatives. What's your commitment to the arts in the state? How do you see that?
Marty Jackley: It is. It's tourism. All different areas of tourism, we need to invest in. You know, one of the important things that the tourism industry did is they actually came to South Dakota legislator and a previous governor and said, "We want to raise additional funds to help support these very important programs," and that's where that half penny increase came. Those dollars are so important in the various different areas that we've been talking about to make that happen, and I will be very, very supportive of that here in South Dakota.
Lori Walsh: You grew up in Sturgis. What was that like then? Did you have an awareness early on that the visitor industry mattered, or is ... What does that look like, being a kid in Sturgis?
Marty Jackley: Well, growing up in Sturgis, I always say that my first job wasn't paying. That was working on the farm, which is 20 miles north of Sturgis, but my first paying jobs were really in tourism. It was Bob's Family Restaurant, busy time was tourism. It was working the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and it was being a tour guide at a cavalry museum at Fort Meade. I mean, I made my first dollars in tourism. I built a resume of a strong work ethic through tourism. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, of course, is a unique opportunity not just for Sturgis but our entire state to bring in considerable tourism dollars. Tourism has always been a huge part of South Dakota. I mean, certainly, ag is very, very important to South Dakota, but close behind it is tourism and the dollars that that brings in and the jobs.
Lori Walsh: Pheasant population. How much effort do we need to put into paying attention to the pheasant numbers as we talk about tourism and hunting season and conservation? Let's go there for a minute.
Marty Jackley: It's exceptionally important. I mean, you look at pheasant hunting, and it's about 700 to 800 million dollars that are brought into South Dakota from pheasant hunting. I mean, we are the pheasant capital of the world, and there are things we can do to continue to strengthen pheasant hunting. That's why that was part of my tourism initiative. During Pheasant Fest, I unrolled a Pheasant Initiative that talks about the important steps that we can take, and a lot of it's about habitat. I was the first candidate to roll out the need for a voluntary habitat stamp to allow sportsmen and women to pay an extra $10 to have those dollars not go to state government, but to go to a conservation group to invest in a short-term and a long-term habitat plan to make sure that we've got the food plots where we need them, to make sure we're planting additional trees and other cover for habitat across South Dakota, not just for pheasants, but all sorts of different hunting opportunities.
Lori Walsh: You're attorney general. You're an athlete, a runner. What kind of dad are you?
Marty Jackley: I love being dad. That's the best job I have. I mean, I have two wonderful children with Michael and Isabella. This was a great year, because this was Isabella's first pheasant that she was able to shoot. I got to coach Michael in football. I have a campaign that is really run by South Dakotans for South Dakotans. They schedule my campaign calendar around my kids' basketball games, volleyball games. Track season's starting along with baseball. I get to spend a lot of great time with two wonderful kids. South Dakotans will get to see Michael and Isabella on the campaign trail, in our ads. They've been just wonderful kids, and a lot of that credit goes to my wife, Angela. I mean, she makes a lot of sacrifices while dad is either in trials, being attorney general, running for governor, works very hard at making sure the kids are with me on the campaign and throughout this wonderful experience running for governor.
Kids have adapted well, and of course, they've grown up with this. When I ran for attorney general in 2010 and 2014, they'd been in the fairs. They've marched in the parades. They've got to go to the Lincoln Day Dinners. They've really embraced it. They've been a wonderful part of this, and I've enjoyed being a candidate with my kids.
Lori Walsh: Because as you do this, and as you head into a rigorous campaign season with some tough competition out there ... I mean, a great conversation for South Dakota is, that seems to be universally, what I hear universally, is, like, this is going to be something to watch with these candidates that we have this year, not that that's different from any other year, but people are saying that. Your kids are watching, too, so anything negative that comes at you, any obstacle you have, any bad day that you have, you're going to come home, and your kids are kind of, are ... You have an awareness that they're watching, and they're young.
Marty Jackley: Kids have what made me smile, and that's why, originally, I was the candidate that proposed a clean campaign pledge, to say that this should be a race that my kids can be proud of. It's unfortunate the other candidate didn't go that direction, but it's important to me. This running for governor has been such a humbling and wonderful experience. My kids have gotten nothing but positive feedback. It's so great when their friends ask for Jackley for governor shirts to wear in parades, and it's been a neat experience. That's part of growing up in South Dakota, in small town South Dakota. People are very nice to candidates. They listen. They give great feedback. I've just enjoyed it, and it's something that ... Again, I'm running the type of campaign, and that's a big part of this. It's for my kids, but it's a campaign that my kids are going to be proud of and they're a part of.
Lori Walsh: What are people telling you?
Marty Jackley: People are telling me, number one, "Keep this campaign clean. We don't want a Washington style campaign." That's why my entire campaign team is a South Dakota team. The money we've raised is 92% from South Dakota. People are telling me, "Keep this race clean. Focus on experience. Focus on leadership and action," and that's exactly what the Jackley team is doing.
Lori Walsh: The website is martyjackley.com. Several initiatives posted there with details on what you're planning. What's next? What are you working on now that might be released soon? What are we looking forward to?
Marty Jackley: Right now, the biggest part of what I'm doing is I'm being a dad and a husband. I am being South Dakota's attorney general. I plan on going to Washington, DC on April 17th and really fighting for South Dakota Main Street businesses on the internet sales tax case. On the campaign side of it, I'm doing everything I can to be in all of our communities, listening, putting out a positive message about strong experience in leadership and moving South Dakota forward on better jobs, stronger education, affordable health care, and really a good quality and safe life here in South Dakota.
Lori Walsh: One more question, and that's not too many governors from West River. What would it mean for the State of South Dakota to have a West River governor right now?
Marty Jackley: Certainly, we all benefit from where we lived in South Dakota, and I bring to this race a strong diversity. I mean, I've had an opportunity to grow up in Sturgis, to have a family farm in Vale, to go to engineering school and run a business in Rapid City, to live in Sioux Falls as United States Attorney, to live in Vermillion in law school, and to now live in Pierre as attorney general. I really take that diversity as important, to be able to feel comfortable all across our state, to having been all of South Dakota's United States Attorney and attorney general, and I think that makes me a stronger candidate, because I can understand what the problems are across South Dakota and work for good solutions to make South Dakota an even better place.
Lori Walsh: Marty Jackley. Thanks so much. We'll see you next time.
Marty Jackley: Thank you.