South Dakota House to vote April 12 on impeaching attorney general over fatal car wreck

Jason Ravnsborg pled guilty to two misdemeanors in connection with a car wreck in September 2020 that killed a 55-year-old man.

Updated: March 13, 2022 - 11:28pm

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The South Dakota House of Representatives will vote on whether Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will be impeached on April 12, according to a timeline released by the House Select Committee on Investigation.

Ravnsborg was involved in a fatal wreck in September 2020 that killed a 55-year-old man. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in 2021 and was fined. He has remained in office since the wreck, earning an annual salary of more than $118,000 and overseeing a budget of more than $30 million, according to budget figures.

Gov. Kristie Noem has repeatedly called for Ravnsborg's resignation. When Ravnsborg did not resign, she called for impeachment hearings.

The House committee has held several meetings since November that included testimony from investigators and members of Ravnsborg's staff.

House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, who chairs the committee, said after an executive session Thursday night the committee "discussed the finalization of reports" and the committee's special counsel is beginning that process.

The committee will meet again March 28 to release the final report. The full House can vote on impeachment in 14 days, which is April 12, Gosch said. If approved by the House, the Senate will decide if they want to begin impeachment proceedings.

Gosch said after the meeting he plans to send a "cease and desist" letter to Gov. Kristi Noem's administration based on comments made about the Ravnsborg case on Wednesday according to KEVN.

Noem's administration did not immediately return an email seeking comment. The governor asked in a Friday morning social media post "Why is Speaker Gosch protecting the AG?"

Craig Price, secretary of the Department of Public Safety, wrote in a letter sent to the committee Wednesday that Ravnsborg "verbally indicated that he had seen Mr. Boever at the time of impact and again in the aftermath of the crash before quickly correcting himself." Ravnsborg has said he thought he struck an animal.

The attorney general was also "untruthful" in his statements to North Dakota investigators about his driving record, Price said. During questioning by law enforcement, Ravnsborg said he never went more than 4 miles an hour over the speed limit.

From the time he took office until the time of the wreck, Ravnsborg was stopped by police for traffic offenses at least eight times and never received a citation, Price said. On six of those occasions, he was in a state vehicle.

Price said Ravnsborg sent a text message to someone Sept. 14, 2020, that read, "Well at least the guy was a Democrat."

The comment prompted criticism from the South Dakota Democratic Party.

“To bring partisan politics into a tragedy like this is unacceptable," said South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Randy Seiler in a statement. "Our leaders should serve with honesty and integrity, and Secretary Price’s letter makes clear that Jason Ravnsborg is unfit to serve the people of South Dakota as Attorney General."