PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The House State Affairs Committee Wednesday morning unanimously voted to amend HR7001, the articles of impeachment concerning State Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. The amended articles effectively halt the impeachment proceedings and cast doubt on if or when the issue may be taken up in the future.
District 24 State Representative Will Mortenson introduced the original resolution last week. He testified today that lawmakers have “an obligation to our constitutional duties” and that impeachment was an “exceptional mechanism” only to be used in “exceptional circumstances.” Mortenson says the Attorney Generals actions are such a circumstance.
Nick Nemec, the cousin of crash victim Joe Boever, testified in the committee hearing Wednesday morning.
“An impeachment is not a court of law, it’s an impeachment. And there’s enough evidence out there that the Attorney General killed a man on the highway outside Highmore,” Nemec said.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch then moved an amended resolution, HR7001F, which effectively halts any discussion of impeachment proceedings until after a Hyde County court resolves the misdemeanor charges against Ravnsborg.
HR7001F will next go to the House floor. As a House Resolution, no Senate action is required.
In a news release Tuesday, Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) announced an amendment to HR 7001, which calls for Representatives to let the legal process play out before impeachment articles move forward.
Representative Will Mortenson, who introduced the resolution, issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“The Judge’s Order from last week bars legislators and the public from having full access to the facts. Legislative leadership has decided that we can’t move forward with some of this information sealed, so we will wait to proceed. I’m disappointed that we are not moving forward more quickly, but understand the desire for full transparency. I have not changed my mind about the duties owed by the South Dakota Attorney General, nor about my conviction that those duties have been breached. I hope Mr. Ravnsborg considers resignation in the meantime to help the state turn the page on this unfortunate event. It is clear at this point that would be in the best interest of the state and the office. The people can have confidence that many in the Legislature remain committed to upholding a high standard for our public officials.”Rep. Mortenson
The release announcing the amendment says “After a conviction, or plea of guilty, or nolo contendere, or acquittal in case number 34MAG21-00001, State v. Jason Ravnsborg, the House of Representatives may evaluate whether articles of impeachment against Jason Ravnsborg, Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, are necessary and proceed accordingly.”
Last week, a circuit judge has granted Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s request to stop South Dakota authorities, including Governor Kristi Noem from releasing any more reports, interviews or anything involving evidence from the deadly crash in September.
We’ll have more from Nemec on the House Committee’s decision tonight on KELOLAND News.