Legislators take Ravnsborg impeachment probe behind closed doors

Capitol News Bureau

Photo of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The legislative panel analyzing whether to recommend the impeachment of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will work in secret for much of the next two days.

The special House committee on Monday posted an agenda that shows executive sessions for all of Tuesday and for Wednesday morning.

The panel of nine representatives is scheduled to return to open public session at 1:30 p.m. CT Wednesday for “discussion and any action to be taken with regard to discovery.”

This will be the group’s first gathering since its organizational meeting November 10, according to its chairman, House Speaker Spencer Gosch.

Earlier talk had pointed to the House deciding whether to impeach yet this year and the Senate taking up a possible trial either before or during the first week of the 2022 legislative session that opens January 11.

Asked whether he expected the committee would have a recommendation prior to January 11, Gosch indicated there’s no timetable at this point. “Due to the unprecedented nature of this process, any predictions would be pure speculation,” he told KELOLAND News.

A vehicle driven by Ravnsborg struck and killed pedestrian Joe Boever on the night of September 12, 2020. Boever was walking on the shoulder of U.S. 14 at the west edge of Highmore. Ravnsborg never appeared in court and had his defense attorney plead no-contest to two second-class misdemeanors. He settled out of court with the widow, Jenny Boever.

The House passed a resolution November 9, 2021, establishing the investigation committee. This is believed to be the first time that the South Dakota Legislature has taken formal steps toward impeaching a state official.

The resolution calls for legislators who aren’t committee members to have access to anything the committee gathers or receives. Said Gosch, “As for materials, we will abide by the resolution that was passed during special session.”

The committee recently hired Sara Frankenstein, a Rapid City attorney, to serve as its legal counsel.

The South Dakota Constitution lays out the steps for impeachment, including a requirement that a majority of House members are necessary for an impeachment and a two-thirds majority of senators for conviction.

Governor Kristi Noem has called repeatedly for Ravnsborg to step down and urged the House to take up impeachment if he doesn’t.

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