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Bill Janklow, American politician, Attorney General (1975–1979) and Governor of South Dakota (1979–1987, 1995–2003); U.S. Representative (2003–2004), brain cancer he was 72.

William John "Bill" Janklow  was an American politician and member of the Republican Party who holds the record for the longest tenure as Governor of South Dakota - sixteen years in office  brain cancer he was 72..

(September 13, 1939 – January 12, 2012)

Janklow served as the 25th Attorney General of South Dakota from 1975 to 1979 before serving as the state's 27th Governor from 1979 to 1987 and then the 30th Governor from 1995 to 2003. Janklow was then elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served for a little more than a year. He resigned in 2004 after being convicted of manslaughter for his role in an automobile accident.

Early life

Janklow was born in Chicago, Illinois. When Janklow was 10-years-old his father died of a heart attack while working as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany.[1] His mother moved the family back to the United States, and in 1954 when Janklow was 15, they settled in her home town of Flandreau, South Dakota.[2] Following a series of scrapes with the law, Janklow was ordered by a judge to either join the military or attend reform school.[2] Janklow dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1956 to 1959.[2] He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1964 with a BS in business administration and earned a law degree there in 1966. After graduation from law school, he was a Legal Services lawyer for six years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, advancing to direct the program there.
In 1973, he received his first political appointment as the Chief Prosecutor of South Dakota and "quickly earned a reputation as a top trial lawyer".[3]

State attorney general and first terms as governor

Janklow served as South Dakota's attorney general from 1975 to 1979.
He was first elected governor in 1978. He was easily reelected in 1982 with 70.9% of the vote, the highest percentage won by a gubernatorial candidate in the state's history. The legislature had repealed the personal property tax the year before he took office, but did not provide a replacement revenue source. Since the personal property tax funded local governments, the legislature mandated that the state government replace the revenue.
In 1979 Janklow signed into law a bill reinstating capital punishment in South Dakota. Another initiative that year was to abolish the state's Department of Environmental Protection, allegedly because of its role in efforts by the Sioux to block resource development in the Black Hills.[4] Janklow supported passage of legislation to remove South Dakota's limit on interest rates. This attracted banks: for instance, Citibank opened a credit card center in Sioux Falls.[5] Several states had similar laws, overturning previous policies against high rates. Under the federal banking rules a state had to formally invite a bank into their state, and South Dakota invited Citibank before other states.
When the Milwaukee Railroad went into bankruptcy, Janklow called a special session of the legislature on the issue. The state purchased the main line of the defunct railroad. The state leased its property to the Burlington Northern, thereby preserving critical railway shipping of commodities for much of the state. Janklow increased accessibility for the disabled to public and private facilities in state.[citation needed]
Barred by state law from running again in 1986, Janklow challenged the incumbent U.S. Senator James Abdnor in the Republican primary. Janklow lost, with Abdnor winning by a 55% to 45% margin. The primary battle was considered to weaken Abdnor, contributing to the latter's loss in the general election to Democrat Tom Daschle, then South Dakota's lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives.[citation needed]

Controversial history

Jacinta Eagle Deer

In 1974, a month before the election for state attorney general for which Janklow was a candidate, Jacinta Eagle Deer filed a petition through her attorney Larry Leventhal and tribal advocate Dennis Banks to disbar Janklow to keep him from practicing in tribal court. According to Banks, in early 1967 Jacinta Eagle Deer, then a 15-year-old Lakota schoolgirl at the Rosebud Boarding School on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, reported to her school principal that Janklow, for whom she was working as a babysitter, had raped her on January 13. He was said to be her legal guardian.[6]
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), responsible for law enforcement on the reservation at the time, allegedly sent the police investigation case file of the rape (for which it had custody) to its Aberdeen, South Dakota office to keep it away from the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court.[7]
Judge Mario Gonzalez of the Rosebud Indian Reservation tribal court granted Eagle Deer's petition to disbar Janklow from practicing law on the Rosebud Reservation. At the request of Eagle Deer's attorneys, the tribal court "issued a misdemeanor arrest warrant for Janklow based on sworn testimony on Eagle Deer's behalf (since it was generally believed at the time that tribal courts had jurisdiction over non-Indians)", but no arrest was made.[7] Janklow denied all allegations connected with the rape case, and no criminal charges were filed.
In 1975, Janklow was investigated by the FBI before being nominated as a candidate for appointment to the board of the Legal Services Corporation. The White House Counsel passed on its recommendation to the Senate Judiciary Committee (which would vote on the nomination), saying its investigation of the rape case concluded there was insufficient evidence.[8]
In April 1975, Jacinta Eagle Deer was killed at night in a hit-and-run accident in southern Nebraska. After her death, Jacinta's step-mother, Delphine Eagle Deer, sister of Leonard Crow Dog, advocated on the young woman's behalf. Delphine Eagle Deer was murdered in an as yet unsolved case about nine months later in 1976.[9]

Libel suits

In the 1980s, Janklow filed libel suits against the author Peter Matthiessen and Viking Press for a statement included in the book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983), and another suit against Newsweek magazine for its coverage of the alleged rape. The publications had included statements of Dennis Banks, founder and leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM). In each case, the courts upheld the freedom of speech principle for the authors and publishers under the First Amendment.[citation needed]
Matthiessen included a statement by Banks about the rape accusation and drunk driving incident. Janklow, then governor of South Dakota, sued both the author and publisher Viking Press for libel, which delayed publication of the paperback version of the book until 1992.[7][10][11] Janklow's complaint, referring to the statement by Banks about rape, "cited a 1975 letter from Philip Buchen, head of the Office of Counsel to the President of the United States, to the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, saying that three Federal investigations found the allegations against him 'simply unfounded.' The Senate committee was considering Mr. Janklow's nomination as a director of the Legal Services Corporation..."[8]
Janklow's suits were dismissed based on First Amendment protection of free speech. He filed a libel suit against Newsweek based on an article in the weekly's February 21, 1983, issue that included the disputed passage by Dennis Banks.[8] Janklow v. Newsweek Inc. (1986), was brought before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit en banc appealing the decision of the Hon. John B. Jones, United States District Judge for the District of South Dakota, that Newsweek magazine had not defamed Janklow. The lower court's decision was affirmed by the appeals court, with BOWMAN, Circuit Judge, joined by ROSS and FAGG, Circuit Judges, dissenting.[12]

Return to governorship

Janklow returned to politics in 1994, when he defeated incumbent Walter Dale Miller in the Republican gubernatorial primary. He was handily elected that year and was reelected in 1998. In his second two terms, he cut property taxes for homeowners and farmers by 30%, but was able to make up the revenue loss caused by the voters' repealing the inheritance tax.[13] Janklow is the longest-serving governor in South Dakota history. He is the only person in the state's history to serve eight full years as governor, which he did twice.
Although controversial,[14] Janklow is among the more electorally successful politicians in South Dakota's history. He was elected to statewide office six times.


The Associated Press, in conjunction with the Sioux Falls newspaper Argus Leader, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information on pardons granted by Janklow between 1995 and 2002. Reporters found that the pardons did not follow the statutory process, which requires pardons to be reviewed by an independent commission. Among Janklow's pardons was one for his son-in-law for convictions for drunk driving and marijuana possession.[15]

Election to Congress

In 2002, Janklow ran for the Republican nomination for South Dakota's only House seat. He defeated the Democratic candidate, Stephanie Herseth, an attorney, by a vote of 180,023 to 153,656. She is the granddaughter of former governor Ralph Herseth and his wife Lorna Herseth, former state Secretary of State for South Dakota.[16]

Vehicular manslaughter

On August 16, 2003, Janklow was involved in a fatal traffic collision while driving his car, when he failed to stop at a stop sign. Janklow ran the stop sign, causing Randolph E. Scott to strike Janklow's vehicle. Scott was killed in the accident. The accident occurred at a rural intersection near Trent, South Dakota. Scott, a 55-year-old Minnesotan, was thrown from his motorcycle and killed instantly. Janklow's vehicle traveled 300 feet beyond the point of impact and hit a sign in a field. He suffered a broken hand and bleeding on the brain. In the ensuing investigation, officials determined Janklow was driving at least 70 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone and that he ran a stop sign at the intersection where the crash occurred.[17]
Janklow was arraigned on August 29. He said he "couldn't be sorrier" for the accident. His trial began on December 1. In his defense, his lawyer said that he suffered a bout of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and was "confused" and "mixed up." Janklow testified that he had taken an insulin shot the morning of the accident and had not eaten anything throughout the day. Medical witnesses said this could result in low blood sugar. No witnesses testified as to Janklow's record of three previous accidents and twelve speeding violations; his driving history had been widely reported in the local media.
Robert O'Shea, an accident reconstruction expert, testified at the trial that he estimated the Congressman's speed to be 63 or 64 miles per hour at the time of impact. This was based on data from the electronic data recorder of the Cadillac and "his own analysis".[18] The State Highway Patrol had said in testimony that it estimated Janklow's speed as "at least 70 mph." The State was not able to download the data from the car because they did not have the connector needed. From his analysis, O'Shea said Scott's motorcycle’s speed may have been as much as 65 mph; this was in contrast to the Highway Patrol's estimate of 59.[18][19]
Examples of Janklow's violations covered in the press were his receiving a ticket for speeding on his motorcycle four blocks from his home to the Capitol, and another for not having the proper license endorsement to drive the vehicle. The superintendent of the state highway patrol reported that Janklow had 16 traffic stops by troopers during his last term as governor but was not ticketed, due to "respect for his authority," and out of a "fear of retribution."[20] From 1990 to 1994, Janklow had 12 speeding tickets, with fines totaling $1000.[20][21]
Bill Janklow
Charge(s) Manslaughter
Conviction(s) Guilty verdict
Penalty 100 days in jail, daily community service after 30 days served.
Conviction status Released
On December 8, 2003, Janklow was convicted by a Moody County jury of second-degree manslaughter. A few days later, he resigned his seat in Congress effective January 20, 2004. House rules do not allow congressmen who are convicted of felonies to vote or participate in committee work until the House Ethics Committee conducts an investigation. On January 22, Janklow was sentenced to spend 100 days in jail. After 30 days, he was able to leave the jail for several hours each day in order to perform community service. He was released on May 17, 2004.
Scott's family sued Janklow for damages, but the court ruled that because Janklow was on official business at the time, he was protected from any monetary claims by the Federal Tort Claims Act, which ascribes liability to the government as opposed to the individual who is acting in a governmental capacity. In July 2006, Scott's family filed a $25 million wrongful death suit against the U.S. government. The lawsuit was settled for $1 million on May 14, 2008.
Court records show Janklow received five citations in South Dakota after his probation ended in 2007 – four for speeding and one for clipping a car in a Sioux Falls parking lot. A citation for lacking proof of insurance was later dismissed. He also admitted to getting ticketed in Minnesota and while driving to Texas.[22]

Post-political career

After January 5, 2006 (effective February 2006), when the South Dakota Supreme Court granted his petition for early reinstatement of his license to practice law (Scott's family opposed the reinstatement) Janklow worked as an attorney. In spring 2006, the Mayo Clinic retained him to lobby against the DM&E Railroad expansion. He also represented landowners who were seeking reimbursement from the railroad for the taking of their property.
On November 4, 2011, he announced during a press conference that he had terminal brain cancer.[23] Janklow died shortly before 11 a.m. on January 12, 2012 at a hospice care facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[24] He was 72 years old. Governor Dennis Daugaard ordered that flags across the state be flown at half staff [25]He is buried in Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota.

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