PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — For the first time in South Dakota history, lawmakers have impeached a statewide official; the House of Representatives voted to impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg by the slimmest vote possible.
36 votes in support, 31 against and 3 excused was today’s final tally in the House. For the resolution to be successful, impeach the attorney general and send the matter over to the Senate for a trial, it needed 36 votes. It received exactly that. Tuesday’s deliberates came exactly 19 months to the day that a car driven by Ravnsborg struck and killed pedestrian Joe Boever.
“South Dakota deserves better,” said Rep. Mary Fitzgerald, a Republican from Spearfish. “I would ask that you support HR 7002, thank you.”
And that’s what the House of Representatives did on Tuesday, with the bare minimum of votes needed for the resolution to be successful. Rep. Will Mortenson, a Republican from Pierre, introduced the resolution.
“I believe impeachment should be reserved only for grave and exceptional circumstances, and I believe this is one,” Mortenson said.
“The attorney general used the privileges of his office to learn about how the investigation would be conducted,” said Rep. Ryan Cwach, a Democrat from Yankton. “The average suspect would not be able to learn the techniques of those investigating him, and I submit to you that that is wrong, that that is malfeasance, that he had a duty to completely wall himself from the investigation.”
Now the Senate will take up the question of conviction. 24 votes of support will be needed for this, which would remove him from office.
“We have a chance today to give him his trial,” said Rep. Tim Goodwin, a Republican from Rapid City. “All we have to do is send it over to the Senate, and they’ll have a trial.”
31 representatives voted against impeachment. Among them was Rep. Greg Jamison, a Republican from Sioux Falls, who cited the recent recommendation of the House Select Committee on Investigation to not impeach Ravnsborg.
“The Select Committee’s report, and the way that that came out and with their, all of the hours and time that they spent reviewing the evidence and the details, I had to accept them and their report as to the best findings,” Jamison said.