SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Ahead of the ninth meeting of the House Select Committee on Investigation, the Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety is calling for lawmakers weighing whether to recommend impeachment for Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg “to consider facts.”
And Governor Kristi Noem sent a series of tweets late Wednesday afternoon questioning why Ravnsborg received a closed-door hearing with members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations and telling readers “REMINDER: the House is still in the middle of impeachment proceedings.”
“Let me get this straight…,” Noem wrote, “they don’t have time to conclude their impeachment process, but they have time for secret closed-door meetings to give Ravnsborg $1.5 million with no accountability?”
In an official news release, DPS Secretary Craig Price urged lawmakers “to consider the indisputable conclusions by the crash reconstruction experts.”
Price also sent a 3-page letter detailing why he believes Ravnsborg is “unfit to hold the position as the chief law enforcement officer for the state of South Dakota.”
House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, told KELOLAND News he hadn’t seen the letter. Gosch said the committee determined that, based on the South Dakota Highway Patrol’s official reports, that Ravnsborg wasn’t using his phones at the time of the crash and therefore any text messages were irrelevant.
Gosch said Price’s letter was another attempt to interfere in the House committee’s investigation.
South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper John Berndt, who reconstructed the crash scene, told lawmakers it should have taken 200 feet, or less, to stop. He also submitted a letter to the committee.
The select committee will meet at 3 p.m. in Room 414 Thursday in Pierre. The official agenda lists “executive session” shortly after calling the meeting to order.
The group of nine lawmakers, seven Republicans and two Democrats, are working to decide whether Ravnsborg’s actions from the crash that killed Joe Boever are impeachable offenses. The committee will present a report on whether impeachment is recommended to the full floor of the House of Representatives.
Price pointed out Boever’s death was happened “because the Attorney General had been distracted” and “all four wheels of the Attorney General’s vehicle had crossed the rumble strips onto the road’s shoulder.”
Price also pointed to Ravnsborg’s conduct, which had been part of testimony lawmakers heard during previous meetings.
Two lead investigators with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, under oath, told lawmakers they believe Ravnsborg saw Boever during public testimony in January.
“Ravnsborg and his advisors’ social media activity and text messages, before and after the crash, that may reflect viewpoints and character not in keeping with the high standards expected of the Attorney General,” the release stated.
“The investigation conducted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol (SDHP) and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) was objective, thorough and fair,” Price said in a statement. “Their conclusions are not in dispute.”
In the panel’s last meeting, Emily Sovell specifically mentioned disagreements she had with Secretary Price about releasing evidence to the public regarding the case.
Sovell also confirmed North Dakota investigators told her they believed Ravnsborg was lying to them.
Sovell, the Sully County State’s Attorney, led the criminal prosecution against Ravnsborg. In August 2021, Ravnsborg’s lawyer entered a no-contest plea for two misdemeanors.
Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore helped with the prosecution and defended the criminal charges against Ravnsborg under current South Dakota law.
Moore told lawmakers state laws for vehicular homicide require the driver of the vehicle to be intoxicated and to drive in a negligent manner. He said a manslaughter charge would have required “reckless” behavior from Ravnsborg.
Moore said investigators couldn’t determine why Ravnsborg was outside the lane of travel or for how long. He noted Ravnsborg was only going two miles per hour over the speed limit and he didn’t believe there was enough to prove he was “reckless.”
“At the time of the impact, he was not on the phone,” Moore said.