SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Monday night, the House select committee voted not to recommend the impeachment of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. The vote was along party lines, with – Republicans voting not to impeach and two Democrats recommending impeachment.
It all started on the night of September 12, 2020, Joe Boever of Highmore was walking along the shoulder of SD Highway 14 with a flashlight. At that same time, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was driving home to Pierre, and his car drifted onto the shoulder of the road.
Dispatcher: 911 this is Ally, how can I help you?
Ravnsborg “Ally, this well Ally, I’m the Attorney General. And I am, I don’t know, I hit something.”
Dispatcher: “You hit something?”
It wasn’t until the next day that Ravsnborg says he discovered Joe Boever’s body alongside the road.
Since Ravnsborg is South Dakota’s top law enforcement officer, investigators from North Dakota interviewed him two days after the crash.
“I’m thinking it’s a deer at this point, but I had, I did not see anything. I didn’t have time to swerve or accelerate or decelerate or anything. I didn’t see anything,” Ravnsborg said.
“I did not know it was a man until the next day, no….,” Ravnsborg said.
“I think you had an idea it was something other than a deer though”, said the agent.
“I just believed it was, I do,” Ravnsborg said.
16 days later, the agents interviewed Ravnsborg again and told him about glasses they’d found in his car.
“They’re Joe’s glasses,” the agent said.
“I wondered about that,” Ravnsborg said.
“So that means his face came through your windshield,” the agent said.
“His glasses are right there, Jason. Those are Joe’s….so the only way for them to get there is through the windshield,” the Agent said.
In February of 2021, five months after the crash, the Hyde County State’s Attorney’s office charged Ravnsborg with three misdemeanors including careless driving. Boever’s family was upset Ravnsborg did not face more serious charges.
“How can you not see someone walking down the road, and for no sirens to go off around here is highly unusual because any time there is an accident or anything,” said Joe’s wife Jennifer Boever.
Ravnsborg was not required to appear in court, so in August of 2021, his attorney entered a no-contest plea to two misdemeanor charges and the third charge was dismissed. By entering a no-contest plea, Ravnsborg did not admit guilt.
Once the case wrapped up in court, the investigation moved to the legislature. In January of this year, the House Select Committee on Investigation held three days of hearings and heard testimony from a number of witnesses, including investigators and crash reconstruction experts who questioned whether Ravnsborg was being honest.
“The most important thing that stands out to me is that he had seen a light illuminating in the grass right off the roadway when he was out there, but he thought it was part of Jason Ravnsborg’s vehicle that was still illuminating,” said North Dakota DCI Agent, Joe Arenz.
The Committee asked Ravsnborg to testify, he declined.
In the wake of the testimony, the politics of the situation became apparent. First came a telemarketing campaign pressuring lawmakers to impeach Ravnsborg, then came the billboards singling out some members of the impeachment committee. KELOLAND news traced the billboards to a Virginia-based company that supports the agenda of Governor Kristi Noem. She denied any knowledge or involvement.
In the final report, the committee is critical of the Governor’s involvement, including the release of a video of Ravnsborg’s interrogation, which baffled prosecutors.
“Especially while the case is pending, it’s an ethical violation for me as a prosecutor,” said Beadle County State’s Attorney, Michael Moore.
The committee also resented the Governor’s repeated calls for Ravnsborg’s resignation and impeachment.
They say it had no impact on their decisions, but in the final report, the committee condemns the governor. And now as the impeachment decision moves to the full house, the committee cautions her from improperly influencing the House of Representatives.
“The Governor didn’t make it any easier for any of us,” said Representative Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls, who is running against Noem for Governor. “It was very frustrating to have that going on in the background it didn’t help any of this,” he said.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch echoed Smith’s frustrations “This impeachment process is not the governor’s job, her opinion in the matter did not weigh at all,” he said.
The Full house will take up the impeachment issue on April 12th in Pierre.