South Dakota speaker names panel to weigh AG’s impeachment
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota House speaker on Tuesday named the six fellow Republicans and two Democrats who will join him in looking into the investigation of a fatal crash caused by the state attorney general and assess whether he should be impeached.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch named a committee that will be a mix of Ravnsborg’s political allies and those who have called for his ouster. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader first reported that the committee had been assembled.
Gosch will preside over the committee, but only vote if there is a tie. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the committee.
Republican Rep. Jon Hansen, who is on the committee and a member of legislative leadership, said the committee’s plan of action had not been ironed out, but that he would push for the committee to create a report that can be presented to the full House.
“We gather the facts, we gather the law, and then we just present that to the legislative members,” he said, adding “I’m not going to be the decider — that’s not one member’s decision.”
Another committee member, House Democrat Leader Jamie Smith, said the committee would provide an “opportunity to see the evidence that’s been gathered and look at this situation as an open investigation into whether” Ravnsborg should continue serving as attorney general.
The committee also includes House Republican Leader Kent Peterson, Democrat Rep. Ryan Cwach and Republican Reps. Mike Stevens, Steven Haugaard, Doug Barthel and Kevin Jensen. Most of the lawmakers are either members of either the House Judiciary Committee or the high-powered House State Affairs Committee.
Gov. Kristi Noem, who has publicly called for Ravnsborg’s resignation, delivered a hard drive containing the crash investigation to the House speaker shortly after the attorney general’s criminal trial concluded in August.
Ravnsborg, who was elected to his first term as attorney general in 2018, pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors in the crash that killed 55-year-old Joseph Boever, who was walking along a rural stretch of highway when Ravnsborg’s vehicle struck him. Ravnsborg has insisted that he did not realize he killed a man until he returned to the scene the next day and discovered his body.
Noem’s Secretary of Public Safety, Craig Price, has said that after overseeing the investigation, he believed Ravnsborg should have faced felony manslaughter charges. But Jensen argued the committee’s probe should be limited to the misdemeanor traffic charges and avoid rehashing the criminal investigation.
“Do these charges rise to the level of impeachment?” he said. “This is unprecedented. What we do here will set a standard for the rest of South Dakota history.”
This story was updated to correct the spelling of Joseph Boever’s last name, which had been misspelled “Boevers.”