South Dakota AG Impeachment Inquiry Expands Scope to Main Officials Related to Fatal Crash

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg killed a pedestrian while driving in September 2020. Ravnsborg first told police he hit a deer, but discovered the body of Joseph Boever, 55, the next morning. after his return to the scene of the accident.

The House inquiry committee is considering whether to recommend Ravnsborg’s impeachment following the fatal car crash. Articles alleging corrupt conduct were originally filed in February.

State lawmakers halted a first impeachment attempt against Ravnsborg in March after criminal charges were filed against him. At the end of court proceedings in late August, during which Ravnsborg pleaded no challenge, Republican Governor Kristi Noem called on lawmakers to reconsider the articles of impeachment.
In August, Ravnsborg indisputably pleaded two misdemeanors in connection with the fatal accident. He was fined $ 500 for each of the misdemeanors – one count of driving a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device and one count of driving on track. A third misdemeanor charge was dismissed. Ravnsborg was not sentenced to a prison term.

Noem called on Ravnsborg to resign and offered his continued support for his impeachment if he did not resign.

“If Ravnsborg does not resign, as I think he should, the Legislative Assembly can and should consider the articles of impeachment already tabled in the House,” Noem said in a statement in August.
The articles, originally filed in February by Republican State Representative Will Mortenson, say that “after the collision, including during his reporting on the collision and the resulting investigation, Jason Ravnsborg took action unworthy of the Attorney General ”.

The decision to expand the discovery phase of the effort came at the end of a two-day meeting in which lawmakers were mostly behind closed doors. During that private executive session, lawmakers on the committee – which is made up of seven Republicans and two Democrats – met with the lawyer hired to guide the investigation.

“We continued the examination of the large investigation file which was provided to us by the Ministry of Public Security, then we also had a discussion on the issuance of the discovery or the elements of discovery,” said the president. of the House Spencer Gosch, who is the chairman of the special committee. .

Motions tabled included subpoenas for key people related to the crash, including Craig Price, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety; an individual with Jackson Hole Scientific Investigations; two members of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations; and a soldier from the South Dakota Highway Patrol. The individuals are expected to testify next month.

Another motion has been made to subpoena documents from the same departments with the addition of the Hyde County State Attorney’s Office.

Under the state constitution, officials, including the attorney general, “are liable to indictment for drunkenness, felony, corruption, embezzlement or misdemeanor in the performance of their duties.” In addition, for an official to be removed, a majority of the members of the House must approve and a trial must be conducted in the Senate. It would take a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict and remove an official from office, according to the state’s constitution.

In order for Ravnsborg to be impeached, the special committee must recommend charges and a majority of the House members must then approve them.

Gosch told CNN in an emailed statement that no official has been previously dismissed in South Dakota.

Among the most powerful evidence that has come to light since the incident, investigators said they found Boever’s broken glasses in Ravnsborg’s car and the victim’s face came through the windshield of the attorney general.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety released the evidence in February which included a two-part interview in which investigators questioned Ravnsborg about a broken pair of glasses found inside his vehicle.

A preliminary autopsy report indicated that Boever had extensive injuries “both internal and external,” according to Price. A state toxicology report last year said a blood sample given by Ravnsborg the day after the crash showed his blood alcohol level to be 0%.

CNN has reached out to Ravnsborg for comment.

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