A special South Dakota House Committee has recommended against impeaching Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg in connection with his Sept 2020 traffic accident in which he struck and killed a pedestrian.
The House Select Committee on Investigation began meeting in November and took testimony from investigators, prosecutors, members of Ravnsborg’s office, and others.
In its 22-page final report released Monday, the panel concluded there was not enough evidence to support articles of impeachment for malicious wrongdoing by Ravnsborg in connection with the death of 55-year old Joe Boever.
All 7 Republicans on the committee backed the no-impeachment report while the 2 Democrats issued a minority report calling for impeachment.
House Speaker and panel member Spencer Gosch says they kept the focus strictly on whether Ravnsborg’s actions in the panel were impeachable and concluded they didn’t meet the criteria listed in the state constitution.
Asked by reporters if he thought Ravnsborg deserved to stay in office, Gosch said “deserves has nothing to do with it,” only what the Constitution says the panel can do.
Democrat Jamie Smith defended the committee’s work, but said he believes the attorney general committed malfeasance, an impeachable offense, by not being forthcoming with investigators and misrepresenting his cell phone before the crash.
The committee’s recommendation doesn’t end the matter because individual House members can still bring impeachment charges when the full House meets April 12 at the Capitol in Pierre to make the final determination.
Gov Kristi Noem, one of the leading advocates for impeachment from the beginning, took to Twitter after the report was released and pushed charges to be brought next month. She said she hoped lawmakers “will do the right thing,”
Noem’s earlier attempts at pressure drew a rebuke in the report, which listed the way the governor tried to influence the committee and “unequivocally” condemned them.
Should the House vote to impeach, a trial before the State Senate would be scheduled to begin no sooner than 20 days later.