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State crime official calls Ravnsborg's questions about cellphones 'innocuous'

Department of Criminal Investigation head David Natvig takes an oath before the House Select Committee on Investigation.
Lee Strubinger
Division of Criminal Investigation head David Natvig takes an oath before the House Select Committee on Investigation.

The head of the state Division of Criminal Investigation says he’s not concerned about a conversation Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg had about cellphone data.

After Ravnsborg struck and killed a man with his vehicle in 2020, Ravnsborg asked a DCI agent to explain how information is recovered from mobile devices.

Ravnsborg posed the question to the supervisor of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, Brent Gromer.

The task force and the DCI are both under the Attorney General’s Office. David Natvig is the head of the DCI. He says the discussion between Ravnsborg and Gromer was a spur-of-the-moment conversation. Natvig says he was in and out of the room when it took place.

“What I saw, it was a pretty innocuous conversation between two gentlemen that knew each other,” Natvig says. “I can think of a lot of places where you might be curious about something because this guy knows his business. I don’t believe—you know, in my 18 years as a prosecutor I don’t feel like that’s at all a conflict or that he somehow interfered with the investigation, because North Dakota was handling the investigation. We had nothing to do with it.”

Natvig was one of four who were subpoenaed by the House impeachment committee for its hearing Thursday. The others were Ravnsborg’s chief of staff, Tim Bormann, and the prosecutors who brought criminal charges. Ravnsborg pleaded no-contest to a pair of misdemeanors in that criminal case.

The impeachment inquiry is scheduled to meet again on March 10, which is the last day of the main run of this year's legislative session.

Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch says investigation materials will get released to the public when the committee releases its recommendation on impeachment. Gosch did not offer a timeline of when that would be.

Family members of the fatal-crash victim, Joe Boever, say they’re frustrated with how slow the process is going. They say they’d like to see Ravnsborg impeached and removed from office.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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