The South Dakota House on Tuesday morning began its special session to discuss the possible impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
Ravnsborg’s car struck and killed 55-year old Joe Boever of Highmore as he walked along the shoulder of Highway 14 near Highmore at night in September of last year.
Ravnsborg pleaded No-Contest to a pair of traffic violations and was ordered to pay about $4,800 in fines and costs, but he received no jail time and never appeared in court himself
House Speaker Spencer Gosch last week appointed a 9-member committee, 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats, to possibly review the case and determine whether any of Ravnsborg’s actions justify impeachment.
This morning, House members voted 50-10 to have the committee proceed with that work. If it drafts articles of impeachment, a simple majority of the full House would suspend the attorney general and send the impeachment to the State Senate for a trial.
It would take a 2/3rds majority or 24 senators to convict Ravnsborg and remove him from office permanently, otherwise he would immediately be restored to his duties as attorney general.
South Dakota has never had an impeachment trial and several House members called the process “unknown territory” with no clear definition of what is an impeachable offense. It’s a question they hope to answer along the way.
The resolution authorizing the impeachment committee included a provision giving the panel the power to release information that isn’t considered confidential or irrelevant. The committee is expected to meet Wednesday morning.