South Dakota lawmakers vote to impeach attorney general

by Trinity Cardinal


South Dakota lawmakers on Tuesday voted to impeach the state’s attorney general who struck and killed a pedestrian as he drove home from a Republican party event in 2020.

The state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 36-31 to impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for his conduct during and after the incident that claimed the life of Joseph Boever, 55, the Argus Leader newspaper reported.

Ravnsborg must temporarily step aside and the Senate must wait at least 20 days before conducting an impeachment trial. The 35-member Republican-led Senate would then hold another vote with 24 votes needed to remove him from office.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, also Republican, had demanded that Ravnsborg step down after the crash.

In two letters to lawmakers ahead of Tuesday’s proceedings, Ravnsborg apologized for the incident and said impeachment would set a “dangerous precedent.”

He said his office had multiple ongoing investigations looking into Noem’s activities, claiming she had “politically weaponized” the incident.

On Sept. 12, 2020, Ravnsborg was driving home from a fundraiser when he hit and killed Boever, who was walking along a highway in Highmore, South Dakota, about 50 miles east of Pierre.

Ravnsborg told police he believed he had run into a deer rather than a person, until he returned to the scene the following day to find the body of the victim lying in a roadside ditch.

Toxicology tests released by state authorities showed no evidence of impairment.

In August, Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges involving illegal lane change and using a phone while driving. Ravnsborg faced jail time for each charge, but the judge overseeing the case ordered him to pay $1,000 and perform public service for five years.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters