SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Lawmakers targeted by a series of billboard messages regarding the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg plan to seek more action regarding who is behind the funding.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) told KELOLAND News the five legislators named on the billboards plan to sign affidavits complaining about the lack of the required disclosure on the billboard messages. The affidavits will be sent to the secretary of state or the attorney general, who is the subject of an impeachment investigation by the legislature for his actions regarding the September 2020 crash and death of Joe Boever.
Rep. Ryan Cwach (D-Yankton) is a member of the House Select Committee on Investigation which will release its report on whether to recommend impeaching Ravnsborg or not on Monday or Tuesday. Cwach was not targeted by a Virginia-based group called Dakota Institute for Legislative Solutions, which has a stated goal of supporting the agenda of Governor Kristi Noem.
“I was a little disappointed to see those billboards come up, attacking people in the legislature who I think are trying to do the best they can in a new and difficult situation,” Cwach said.
The five legislators targeted are Gosch, Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls), Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), Steven Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls) and Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish). Both Haugaard and Smith are challenging Noem in the 2022 gubernatorial election and all except Odenbach are on the House Select Committee on Investigation.
All five condemned the billboards and many were upset with the secret nature of the funding.
The source of the money for the billboards may never be known because of a combination of South Dakota’s campaign-finance laws and federal laws for not-for-profit organizations. Despite the difficulty of tracing the money behind the billboards, Cwach said more transparency in government is needed.
“I’m particularly upset that the people who put that up are not disclosing where the money came from,” Cwach said. “In our democracy, in our government, transparency is the best thing that we can have. That’s what the people deserve. They deserve to know who’s trying to influence their legislature and their elections.”
On Monday, the legislature will meet on its final day known as Veto Day. Also, the House Select Committee on Investigation will hold its 10th and possibly final meeting where the committee’s public version of its official report could be released.