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South Dakota House leader renews call for AG impeachment

South Dakota AG Jason Ravnsborg

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota House Majority Leader says he will be calling for a special session of the state legislature to consider if impeachment articles against Attorney General Jason Ravsnborg are warranted.

House Majority Leader Kent Peterson is calling for the session to begin on Nov. 9, 2021. Back in March, Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives Spencer Gosch said the House would wait until after Ravnsborg’s legal proceedings to begin impeachment discussions.

“Before we concluded the session in March, the House of Representatives voted on a resolution that stated we may evaluate the matter pertaining to the Attorney General when the judicial process was completed. Since that process has finished, I am asking that the legislature convene to start the formal process of investigating the matter surrounding Attorney General Ravnsborg,” said Leader Peterson.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she was “outraged” at the result of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s plea agreement in August and called on him to either resign or be impeached by the South Dakota State Legislature.

Three South Dakota law enforcement organizations have called for Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s resignation. The South Dakota Fraternal Order of Police, the South Dakota Chiefs of Police Association, and the South Dakota Sheriffs Association issued a joint statement earlier this year requesting Ravnsborg to resign.

On Sept. 12, 2020, Ravnsborg was traveling late on a highway near Highmore after attending a political fundraiser. Ravnsborg called 911 and explained to a dispatcher that he had struck something with his car and was unsure what he had hit. Ravnsborg discovered the body of 55-year-old Joseph Boever the next morning when returning to his vehicle. Ravnsborg later told investigators he thought he struck a deer while driving home.

Ravnsborg avoided a trial and took a plea deal in August. Ravnsborg pled no contest to two misdemeanor charges in a plea deal with prosecutors.

Craig Price, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, handed the investigation files over to Speaker Gosch at the direction of Gov. Noem last week.

Officials did not release the full investigation file to the public but did release a cover letter authored by Secretary Price which outlines what is included in the file.

In the letter, Secretary Price also states he believes Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Price says the South Dakota Highway Patrol was “ready and willing” to provide testimony regarding the crash and the investigation.

To call a special session, 2/3rds of the members of both the House and Senate would need to answer the call by the Majority Leader. If that call receives the necessary support, House Speaker Spencer Gosch would then appoint a committee to investigate the attorney general’s conduct.

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