A petition to call a special session of the South Dakota legislature to consider impeaching Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has the needed signatures from 2/3rds of the senators, but there’s no word yet on how close the House is to that number.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch is saying that he won’t release the names of the lawmakers who sign the petition because that information isn’t covered by the state’s open records law.
Gosch says the petition is exempt because it’s considered correspondence between lawmakers and the Legislative Research Council, adding that the names aren’t pertinent because all that matters with the petition is whether the special session is called.
Gosch last week promised a “fair, thorough, and transparent process” and stands by his pledge, explaining that all legislative meetings on impeachment will be open to the public and every vote will be public as well.
Senate President Pro Tem Lee Schoenbeck says although his chamber has now supported the call for the session, it won’t have anything to do unless or until the House issues articles of impeachment.
As with Congress, the House decides if a case for impeachment exists and the Senate conducts the trial on that case. Schoenbeck says for now, the senators are just watching like everyone else in South Dakota.
He also says if the impeachment session follows the Nov 8 special session on redistricting, the Senate might not take up impeachment until after the holidays.
Calls for impeachment began when Ravnsborg refused to resign after hitting and killing a pedestrian along a highway near Highmore last September.
The idea was tabled until after Ravnsborg’s trial and picked up steam when he pleaded No Contest to a pair of driving misdemeanors and was fined only $1,000 with no jail time. He continues to reject the idea of resigning