South Dakota House committee votes 6-2 to not impeach attorney general, only Democrats opposed
House Speaker Spencer Gosch, who chaired the GOP-dominated committee, said Jason Ravnsborg in killing a pedestrian two autumns ago did "not committee impeachable offenses." A minority report claims otherwise.
PIERRE, S.D. — After three hours of waiting, on Monday, March 28, a House Select committee announced it would not recommend impeaching the state's attorney general for striking and killing pedestrian Joe Boever 18 months ago.
The committee voted 6-2 to recommend what it's calling the majority report, which finds that Ravnsborg — who pleaded "no contest" to two misdemeanors of distracted driving last August — "did not commit [a] misdemeanor in office, as he committed no crime or other wrongful act involving moral turpitude by virtue or authority of office."
House Speaker and committee chair Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham announced the decision, saying, "A majority of the select committee believes the attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, did not commit impeachable offenses."
In the second row, Jenny Boever — the victim's widow — broke down as her mother consoled her. The verdict does not mark the end of the travail for Ravnsborg and state lawmakers. In two weeks, the full House of Representatives will return to consider any motion to approve House Resolution 7001, which first brought the impeachment charge to the chamber over a year ago.
But the report will prove persuasive with the GOP-dominated chamber, who'd largely appeared at various points hesitant to impeach one of their own party since last year.
A separate minority report received the backing of the committee's two Democrats, Rep. Ryan Cwach, of Yankton, and House Minority Leader Jamie Smith, of Sioux Falls, who is mounting a gubernatorial challenge of Gov. Kristi Noem.
After the announcement on Monday evening, a campaign spokesman for Noem — who has called repeatedly for Ravnsborg to step down — said the committee membership sought political protection for the embattled AG.
"The people of South Dakota deserve better," said Joe Desilets, a campaign spokesman.
Along with Boever's family, very few members of the public attended Monday's proceeding. One man who did, Pierre resident Doug Decker, said the ruling disappointed him.
"I believe he did commit an impeachable offense," Decker told Forum News Service, noting Ravnsborg broke the law the night his vehicle collided with Boever. "He forfeited his privilege to hold elected office."