AG Ravnsborg pleads with SD House of Representatives not to impeach
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg faces the S.D. House of Representatives and possible impeachment. Ahead of Tuesday’s proceedings, the state’s top law enforcement official chose to break his months-long silence, asking lawmakers to vote against impeachment.
In a letter to state representatives Monday night, Ravnsborg wrote defending his actions in the 576 days since the fatal crash that killed Joseph Boever, citing his ability to fulfill his duties as attorney general.
Through an anonymous source, I have obtained a copy of a letter to SD House Members from SD Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, asking legislators not to impeach him. pic.twitter.com/BhRIRRFREF
— Colton Hall (@NC1Hall) April 12, 2022
“I could not resign then and cannot resign now because the incident did not impede my ability to perform the functions of Attorney General including on-going investigations of the executive office. Knowing Governor [Kristi] Noem could hand select my replacement, I felt it appropriate to stay in office to maintain the checks and balances within the state.”
Ravnsborg writes that no elected official has been impeached in any state for a traffic accident, and asks state officials to consider the future implications of their vote, should they choose to impeach.
“We are a nation of laws, believing in the rule of law and applying the plain meaning of the words of our various Constitutions and laws, not just seeking mob rule because we disagree with someone, do not like the job they are doing, or do not like that they were elected in the first place.”
In August 2021, Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors related to the fatal crash – making an illegal lane change and using a phone while driving. He was ordered to pay a fine and court costs but was not given jail time.
He argues in his letter that impeaching on the grounds of a misdemeanor conviction sets a “low precedent” that “will affect many members of the Legislature” who have also been convicted of such and asks “when will their impeachment or expulsion proceedings begin if that is the new standard?”
A House committee recommended last month against impeachment after three days of hearings to consider evidence from all agencies involved in the investigation. The majority of the committee wrote an addendum in their report, slamming the governor’s office for it’s involvement in the process – a stance Ravnsborg also takes in his letter to lawmakers.
Ravnsborg continues in the letter, arguing that the governor “seized and politically weaponized” the process.
“On Sunday evening, September 13, 2020, the Governor held a press conference stating she was in charge of the investigation. Ethically, the Governor should never have involved herself. She then led people to believe independent organizations would be in command of the investigation. To the contrary, an agency working for her was involved giving her access to confidential material.”
Governor Noem took to Twitter Tuesday morning in response to Ravnsborg’s letter:
The people of SD deserve to know the truth. The facts speak for themselves. Anyone who wants to know the facts should ignore the AG’s bizarre letter and instead read Secretary Price’s letter to Speaker Gosch and watch the Highway Patrol presentation from last week. (1/) https://t.co/cfGtH3KeOg
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) April 12, 2022
She goes on to say, “The Attorney General wants to make this about me to distract House members, when the question before them is whether he should be the state’s top law enforcement officer. He killed an innocent man, lied about the events of that evening, and abused his office to cover it up.”
Ravnsborg ends the letter with a heartfelt apology to the Boever family,
“I want to say, ‘I am Sorry.’ Every day I think about Joe Boever, a man I had never met, who changed my life forever. I am sorry the family has had to endure this tragedy in so many ways and has been put in the middle of this highly political situation.”
NewsCenter1 will carry the proceedings live on air and online beginning at 10 a.m MT/ 11 a.m. CT. You can watch on ConnectCenter1 statewide or at NC1.tv.
The full letter to the House of Representatives is linked below.