SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The process of reaching a decision whether to recommend the impeachment of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is nearing its final days.
On Monday, 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.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham), who is the committee’s chairman, told KELOLAND News the nine-member panel will spend a lot of time Monday in executive session to fine-tune the final draft of its report and that the public version may be released Monday or Tuesday.
The committee’s official listed agenda states that executive session starts at 3 p.m. CT, followed by “consideration of draft committee report,” before adjourning at 6 p.m. The starting time could be delayed because the Legislature is also meeting Monday for its final time of the 2022 session.
Right after the committee’s previous meeting on March 10, Gosch said the committee’s findings, and whether impeachment would be recommended, will be presented in a report compiled by legal counsel Sara Frankenstein.
After the final report is released and made public, members of the South Dakota House of Representatives will return to the Capitol on Tuesday, April 12, to decide whether to impeach Ravnsborg. Officially, House Resolution 7001 states the select committee “shall investigate whether the conduct of Jason Ravnsborg, Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, surrounding the death of Joe Boever, involved impeachable offenses.”
The South Dakota Constitution specifically states grounds for impeachment are “drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office.”
The House needs a simple majority of 36 representatives to impeach Ravnsborg. If the House impeaches, then Ravnsborg must step aside, at least temporarily, and the Senate must wait at least 20 days before conducting a public trial of Ravnsborg.
The Senate needs a two-thirds majority of 24 to convict. If the Senate fails to convict, Ravnsborg can return to his official duties. If the Senate convicts, he is barred from holding office.
Regardless of what the committee’s final report states and how the House votes on April 12, Rep. Ryan Cwach (D-Yankton) says the conclusion of the impeachment process will be good for everyone involved including the Boever family, Ravnsborg and the public. Cwach is a member of the committee.
“We will at least get some finality to this,” Cwach said. “Hopefully, we can all move forward in one way or another.”
Cwach said he’s shared the public’s frustrations over the lengthy process.
“I’m certainly glad that we’re getting towards the end here,” Cwach said. “What I’ve sensed from the public is a general frustration with just how this whole thing has been handled from the very start, starting with the sheriff’s questions and questions about the sheriff’s involvement all the way till now.”
Cwach said his goal when the process started was to be fair and transparent and he said it’s up to the public to decide that.
“I do think that the public is going to be able to get a lot of questions answered. We’ll have our report, but you’ll also have the (investigative) file,” Cwach said. “So you can look at it to the extent you want to to make your own decisions about what is the appropriate remedy here, as it relates to the attorney general’s involvement with the death of Joseph Boever.”
When asked about his reaction to Ravnsborg not speaking to the committee, Cwach said he didn’t have a comment.
“We could have subpoenaed him and we didn’t, so that’s the way it went,” Cwach said.
Gosch said the committee reached out to Ravnsborg on two occasions and did not hear any responses. The committee did vote to issue 10 subpoenas to people involved in the prosecution, crash and criminal investigation, as well as two members in Ravnsborg’s office, including his chief of staff, Tim Bormann.
Bormann was with Ravnsborg when Ravnsborg found Boever’s body the morning after the crash on the night of September 12, 2020, at the west edge of Highmore.
Ravnsborg last year pleaded no-contest to two second-class misdemeanor charges for driving outside the traffic lane and operating an electronic device while driving. Neither charge was directly connected to the death of Boever, who was walking on the north shoulder of US 14 and carrying a lit flashlight when he was struck by the car Ravnsborg was driving.