Bill Janklow: Wikis


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Bill Janklow

In office
January 1, 1979 – January 6, 1987
Lieutenant Lowell C. Hansen II
Preceded by Harvey L. Wollman
Succeeded by George S. Mickelson

In office
January 7, 1995 – January 7, 2003
Lieutenant Carole Hillard
Preceded by Walter D. Miller
Succeeded by Mike Rounds

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's At-large district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 20, 2004
Preceded by John Thune
Succeeded by Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

In office
January 3, 1975 – January 1, 1979

Born September 13, 1939 (1939-09-13) (age 70)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Dean Thom Janklow
Alma mater University of South Dakota
Occupation politician, lawyer, veteran
Religion Lutheran

William John "Bill" Janklow (born September 13, 1939) is a former American politician with the Republican Party. He was the 27th and 30th Governor of South Dakota, and served in the United States House of Representatives for just over a year before he resigned after being convicted of manslaughter following an automobile accident. He is currently a lawyer and lobbyist.


Early life

Bill Janklow was born in Chicago, Illinois. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956 to 1959. He graduated from The University of South Dakota in 1964 with a BS in business administration and received a law degree in 1966. After graduation from law school, he was a Legal Services lawyer for six years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. In 1973, he was appointed the Chief Prosecutor of South Dakota and "quickly earned a reputation as a top trial lawyer".[1]

Attorney General and four-term Governor

Janklow served as South Dakota's attorney general from 1975 to 1979. He was first elected governor in 1978, and he was easily reelected in 1982 with 70.9% of the vote, the highest percentage ever 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 The legislature had repealed the personal property tax the year before he took office, but did not provide a replacement revenue source.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.

His first duty as governor was to suggest tax increases to meet that obligation. One of his first acts as Governor was signing into law a bill reinstating capital punishment (in 1979). Another major action in his administration was seeing South Dakota's cap on interest rates dropped. This allowed Citibank to open a credit card center in Sioux Falls from which it could charge high rates.[2] Several states had similar usury laws but, under the federal banking rules, a state had to formally invite a bank into their state, and South Dakota was able to invite them before other states could invite Citibank. When the Milwaukee Railroad went into bankruptcy, Janklow called a special session of the legislature. The state purchased the main line of the defunct railroad. The state then leased its property to the Burlington Northern thereby preserving railway shipping of commodities for much of the state. Janklow also made serious attempts to increase accessibility for the disabled to public and private facilities in state.

Barred by state law from running again in 1986, Janklow challenged incumbent U.S. Senator James Abdnor in the Republican primary. Janklow lost, but the bruising primary battle weakened Abdnor, contributing to the latter's loss in the general election to Democrat Thomas Daschle, then South Dakota's lone member of the U. S. House of Representatives.

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% and made up the revenue loss caused by the voters repealing the inheritance tax.[3] 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.

Janklow pardoned his son-in-law, William Gordon Haugen II, for marijuana possession and driving while intoxicated. The pardon was sealed until after Janklow left office.

Accomplishments while Governor

From early on in his political career, Janklow was someone people either loved or hated—often passionately so. Dubbed by some as the "pirate saint," Janklow amassed a fairly impressive list of achievements[4] on behalf of the people of South Dakota during his 16 years as their chief executive.

Although controversial,[5] Janklow is among the more electorally successful politicians in South Dakota's history. He was elected to statewide office six times.

Election to Congress, car crash, and aftermath

In 2002, Janklow ran for the Republican nomination for South Dakota's only House seat. He defeated Democrat Stephanie Herseth, an attorney and granddaughter of former governor Ralph Herseth and his wife, former state Secretary of State, Lorna Herseth, by a vote of 180,023 to 153,656.[6] .

On August 16, 2003, Janklow was involved in a fatal traffic collision when he struck and killed motorcyclist Randolph E. Scott, while driving his white Cadillac Seville. 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 suffered a broken hand and bleeding on the brain. In the ensuing investigation of the accident, it was determined Janklow was likely 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.

Robert O'Shea, accident reconstruction expert, testified at Janklow's trial that he estimated the speeds to be 63 or 64 miles per hour at the time of impact. O'Shea downloaded the information from the Electronic Data Recorder of the Cadillac. This data was in contrast to the State Highway Patrol's estimate of "at least 70 mph." The State was not able to download the information because they did not have a connector needed and did not attempt to procure one to transfer the information. With Janklow’s speed now at 63–64 miles an hour (while failing to stop at a stop sign), Scott's motorcycle’s speed was then at 65 mph, faster than the Highway Patrols estimate of 59.[7][8]

Janklow was arraigned on August 29. In response, he said he "couldn't be sorrier" for the accident. His trial began on December 1. In his defense, his lawyer argued that he suffered a bout of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and was thus "confused" and "mixed up." Janklow testified that he had taken an insulin shot the morning of the accident and had subsequently not eaten anything throughout day, resulting in low blood sugar. Jurors were not informed of his record of three previous accidents and twelve speeding violations, though his driving history had been widely reported in the local media. He once got a ticket for speeding his motorcycle four blocks from his home to the Capitol, and another for not having the proper license endorsement to drive it. (Janklow has long been an unapologetic speeder; in a 1999 speech to the state legislature, he said, "Bill Janklow speeds when he drives – shouldn't, but he does. When he gets the ticket he pays it.")[9][10]

Bill Janklow
Charge(s) Manslaughter
Conviction(s) Guilty verdict
Penalty 100 days in jail, daily community service after 30 days served.
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. This was because the conviction substantially limited his role in Congress; 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 June 1, a special election was held to fill his seat, and Herseth won against Republican candidate Larry Diedrich. On January 22, he 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.

Post-political career

Janklow currently works as an attorney. On January 5, 2006, the South Dakota Supreme Court granted his petition for early reinstatement of his license to practice law, effective February, 2006, though Scott's family opposed that. In Spring 2006, the Mayo Clinic retained him to lobby against the DM&E Railroad expansion. He also represents landowners who are seeking reimbursement from the railroad for the taking of their property. Approximately 50 percent of his legal practice involves pro bono (without a fee) cases.

See also


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

  1. ^ Raimo, John. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1978-1983. Meckler Publishing. p. 287. ISBN 0-930466-62-4.  
  2. ^ Lazarony, Lucy. "Credit card companies sidestep usury laws". Retrieved 2006-12-19.  
  3. ^ Michael Barone, The Almanac of American Politics, (2006), p. 1520
  4. ^
  5. ^ Steve Hendricks,The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, (2006)
  6. ^ Michael Barone, p. 1530
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Official Transcript "Governor William J. Janklow’s State-of-the-State Address" South Dakota Secretary of State, January 13, 1999
  10. ^ Hetland, Cara "Son acknowledges Janklow ran stop sign", Minnesota Public Radio, August 19, 2003

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Harvey L. Wollman
Governor of South Dakota
January 1, 1979 – January 6, 1987
Succeeded by
George S. Mickelson
Preceded by
Walter D. Miller
Governor of South Dakota
January 7, 1995 – January 7, 2003
Succeeded by
Mike Rounds
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John R. Thune
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's At-large congressional district

January 3, 2003 – June 3, 2004
Succeeded by
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin


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