NOTE TO READERS: Ravnsborg’s personal spokesman Michael Deaver contacted KELOLAND News and said Ravnsborg wasn’t arrested when he was stopped and cited for speeding in Pierre. The story has been corrected.
PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A cousin of Joe Boever hopes he gets a chance to tell a special investigating committee why the Legislature must remove South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office.
Nick Nemec, of Holabird, was one of the few people in the audience when the House Select Committee on Investigations began work Tuesday morning looking into whether to recommend that Ravnsborg should be impeached.
Nemec and others had to leave when the committee quickly went into closed-door session that was scheduled to last all day.
“I’m angered. I’m not surprised. It’s standard operating procedure for South Dakota government. We’re not exactly the most open government in the country,” Nemec told news reporters a short time later.
The former legislator and South Dakota Democratic Party national committeeman made the drive from his farm Tuesday with specific intent.
“I hope to let the legislators on the committee see me, to let them know the family has not forgotten this, and we’re going to be following this until the end,” Nemec said. “If I have a chance, I will testify. It doesn’t sound like I’ll get that chance today. Maybe tomorrow. We’ll see what the speaker rules.”
He was referring to House Speaker Spencer Gosch, the panel’s chairman. House members on November 9 voted 58-10 to approve a resolution assigning the committee to see whether Ravnsborg’s conduct surrounding the death of Boever involved impeachable offenses as defined by the South Dakota Constitution.
The constitution specifically lists “drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office.”
Boever was walking on the paved shoulder of U.S. 14 at the west edge of Highmore on the night of September 12, 2020, when he was struck by the car Ravnsborg was driving.
Ravnsborg called 911 and told the dispatcher he had hit something in the middle of the road but didn’t know what it was.
The Hyde County sheriff later came to the scene. Ravnsborg borrowed a personal vehicle from the sheriff, drove home to Pierre, and found Boever’s body alongside the highway when he returned the vehicle the next morning.
Ravnsborg eventually was charged with three second-class misdemeanors and had his defense attorney plead no-contest to two. Ravnsborg never appeared in court. He settled out of court with the widow, Jenny Boever.
Nemec planned to return Wednesday when the committee continues its work.
“I would tell them I think the impeachable offenses extend beyond the day of the crash, the night of the crash,” Nemec said. “I think Attorney General Ravnsborg, because of his conduct since the crash, has shown that he’s unfit for office.
“On the very first couple days after the crash, he began dragging the victim, Joe Boever, through the mud. He’s shown disregard for the family, he’s never apologized to the family,” Nemec continued.
Nemec said retired Circuit Judge John Brown wanted to require Ravsnborg make public service announcements on distracted driving, but Ravnsborg’s attorney successfully argued the judge didn’t have that authority.
“Even though it would have been the right thing to do, he refused to do it, and the judge had to reverse that part of the sentence,” Nemec said. “So he’s shown no contrition, no remorse, for his actions, and that, in my mind, is an impeachable offense.”
Days before his attorney entered the no-contest pleas, a Hughes County sheriff’s deputy cited Ravnsborg for driving more than 20 miles per hour over the 35-mph speed limit in the east side of Pierre. Nemec said that showed disregard for the traffic laws and public safety: “And he’s the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the state of South Dakota.”
Another reporter asked Nemec what he thought about the investigating committee going into closed-door session. “It makes me feel like they want to cover things up,” Nemec said. “I think the entire fruits of the investigation should be made public. I’m not hopeful that that will happen. But they need to be made public.”
He added, “There’s a lot of information that the public is not aware of concerning this crash that has not been made public — and it needs to be public.”
Nemec said Ravnsborg’s car hit Boever at such a high rate of speed that Boever “had a traumatic amputation of his right leg.”
Nemec questioned whether the sheriff, who’s since died, ever got out of his patrol vehicle at the crash scene and whether anybody that night looked at the smashed front of Ravnsborg’s car to see whether there was any foreign material around the damage.
Nemec said Boever’s body lay in the ditch within “less than two feet” of the paved surface of the road and the flashlight Boever was carrying lay in the ditch, on, all night.
“It just seems like there’s a lot of unanswered questions and botched, botched investigation, botched, botched proceedings all along, and just — It’s frustrating to the family members to have this happen,” Nemec said.
Nemec said the skid marks were on the shoulder where the crash happened and the damage was on the right-hand side of the attorney general’s car. He said Boever’s right-leg being amputated indicated that Boever was walking toward traffic as state law requires and was carrying a flashlight “because it was the prudent thing” for him to do.
“I just have a lot of frustration at the process right now, and I’ve no confidence that the attorney general will eventually be removed from office,” Nemec said. “We’ll see what happens. This is going to drag on into the regular legislative session and there may never be the resolution that I’m looking for in this whole process.”