SD House Launches an 'Unprecedented' Probe Into AG

No state official there has been impeached; that may change with Jason Ravnsborg case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 10, 2021 12:58 PM CST
No SD State Official Has Ever Been Impeached. That May Change
Jason Ravnsborg speaks in Sioux Falls, SD, on Feb. 23, 2014.   (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers, File)

South Dakota's House launched an investigation Tuesday into whether the state's attorney general should be impeached for his conduct surrounding a car crash last year that killed a pedestrian. A sizable majority of the Republican-dominated House voted to have a committee prepare a report and recommend whether Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg should be impeached. It could take weeks for the committee of seven Republicans and two Democrats—a mix of his political allies and critics—to delve into the crash probe, per the AP. Ravnsborg pleaded no contest in August to a pair of misdemeanors in the crash that killed 55-year-old Joseph Boever, who was walking along a rural stretch of highway when Ravnsborg struck him with his car.

Ravnsborg, a Republican who was elected to his first term as attorney general in 2018, has insisted that he didn't realize he'd killed a man until he returned to the scene the next day and discovered his body. House lawmakers said they first wanted to know whether Ravnsborg could be impeached for his misdemeanor convictions, the fact that he killed a man, or that law enforcement associations have said they no longer have confidence in his office. The state constitution stipulates that officials like the attorney general can be impeached for "corrupt conduct, malfeasance, or misdemeanor in office." But a state official has never been impeached in South Dakota.

Republican Rep. Will Mortenson, who first called for Ravnsborg's impeachment in February, pushed to allow public access to the material the committee reviews. The House agreed to make public that material, with the exception of redacted confidential and "nonrelevant information." "This is unprecedented in state history, which means we need to be thoughtful," Mortenson said. The investigative committee, which will subpoena the crash investigation from the Department of Public Safety, is expected to hold its first meeting this week. Ravnsborg's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the House's move.

(Read more South Dakota stories.)

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