PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Its original sponsor, Will Mortenson, was the only lawmaker who spoke on the matter Monday, as the South Dakota House adopted a watered-down resolution regarding the possible impeachment of the state attorney general.
The vote was 57-11 for HR 7001 that says the House “may evaluate” whether articles of impeachment are necessary against Jason Ravnsborg after his criminal proceeding is complete.
Ravnsborg was at the wheel of his private car the night of September 12, 2020, when he ran over and killed Joseph Boever, who was walking on the shoulder of US 14 at the west edge of Highmore.
Ravnsborg was driving back to Pierre from a Republican event in Redfield. He goes to state court Friday accused of three second-class misdemeanors in the crash.
The Legislature ends the main run of its 2021 session Thursday and returns March 29 to consider any vetoes or other late business.
Ravnsborg issued a statement afterward through his private spokesperson that left zero doubt he doesn’t plan to resign. “The House’s action today will allow the legal system to proceed without further interference and with due process. I have cooperated fully with investigators and law enforcement in this matter and look forward to its resolution. I will continue to work every day for the people of South Dakota.”
The House State Affairs Committee significantly amended Mortenson’s original resolution last week.
The March 3 action came after the state judge in Ravnsborg’s case ordered Governor Kristi Noem to take down videos showing three hours of Ravnsborg being interviewed by investigators.
The governor had the two recordings posted after the Hyde County deputy state’s attorney announced the charges against Ravnsborg.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch offered the amendment to Mortenson’s resolution. Gosch maintains that at this late stage of the regular session that a special session would be necessary to consider impeachment action.
A special session requires written support from two-thirds of a chamber’s members or a call from the governor. The state constitution says the Legislature shall meet no more than 40 days “excluding impeachment.”
State lawmakers have never removed a statewide elected official from office through impeachment.
The governor, who has repeatedly called for Ravnsborg to resign, told reporters last week she doesn’t think a special session is needed for impeachment and doesn’t see it as her role to call one.
Mortenson said Monday he agreed with the delay added to the resolution.
“I understand and agree that any such proceedings cannot happen without such facts presented,” he said.