Articles of impeachment filed against South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg
PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA) - A South Dakota lawmaker has moved to remove Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office after he was charged in connection to a fatal crash.
Rep. Will Mortenson (R-Pierre) filed House Resolution 7001 to put an impeachment hearing for Ravnsborg into motion on Tuesday afternoon. House Majority Leader Kent Pederson (R, Bon Homme) and House Minority Leader Jamie Smith (D, Sioux Falls) co-sponsored the resolution.
“In his actions on the night of September 12, 2020 and following the incident, Attorney General Ravnsborg breached that duty and has lost the confidence of the people of South Dakota,” Mortenson said. “When that happens, I believe the legislature has an obligation to exercise its constitutional authority to remove him from office.”
If Ravnsborg gets impeached, this would be the first time in South Dakota history the legislature has removed an elected official from office.
The State House holds the sole power to implement impeachment proceedings. The State Senate is empowered to try a case.
A majority of the members elected in the House first must approve articles of impeachment; 36 of 70 members in the 2021 session.
The South Dakota Broadcasting Association reports the process in the Senate looks very much like a court proceeding with rules of due process defining the timeline. A Senate conviction requires at least a two-thirds majority vote.
Ravnsborg struck and killed Joseph Boever with his car near Highmore on Sept. 12. He told investigators he thought he struck a deer and didn’t realize he struck a man until he returned the next day.
Prosecutors announced three charges last week in connection to the crash: careless driving, operating a vehicle while using a mobile device, and a driving lane violation for driving outside of his lane.
The charges were all misdemeanors, and prosecutors said they do not indicate Ravnsborg was criminally responsible for Boever’s death. Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell said that a manslaughter charge cannot be brought simply for poor driving, even if someone is killed. South Dakota does not have a negligent homicide law, and thus it can’t be applied in the case.
Gov. Kristi Noem called for Ravnsborg to resign earlier Tuesday. Ravnsborg has previously said he does not plan on resigning, though his spokesperson told KOTA Territory News on Tuesday that Ravnsborg is currently “gathering information” regarding the situation.
A press conference with House Representatives on the matter is expected to happen sometime Tuesday afternoon. KOTA Territory News will stream it live on Facebook.
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