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Top South Dakota official releases new allegations against embattled Attorney General Ravnsborg

Gov. Kristi Noem's Public Safety Secretary sent a letter to House Speaker Spencer Gosch outlining new allegations of improper behavior by Ravnsborg, including eight traffic stops prior to night he struck and killed pedestrian Joe Boever.

Ravnsborg being interviewed
South Dakota Attorney Jason Ravnsborg was questioned by two agents from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation following a car crash that killed Joe Boever in September 2020.
Screencap courtesy of the Department of Public Safety
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PIERRE, S.D. — On the eve of a possible final meeting of a committee considering impeachment against Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a top South Dakota official has detailed new allegations of wrongdoing by Ravnsborg.

In August, Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of distracted driving and use of a phone on the night he struck and killed pedestrian Joe Boever in Highmore, South Dakota.

The letter outlined new allegations against Ravnsborg, including eight previous traffic stops between his election in 2018 and the fatal crash in September 2020.

"Their conclusions are not in dispute," Public Safety Secretary Craig Price wrote in the letter released on Wednesday, March 9. "Mr. Boever, while walking east on the far north shoulder near the grass, was killed as a result of the Attorney General being distracted."

Price sent the three-page letter to House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, who is the chairman of the investigation committee. The committee of legislators has been meeting regularly since November to consider impeachment against Ravnsborg.

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Price in the letter also defended the work of crash investigators, and argued that Ravnsborg had engaged in "disparaging and offensive" statements in social media posts.

Price also called attention to an interview with North Dakota law enforcement when Ravnsborg appeared to acknowledge he saw Boever in the ditch after hitting him the night of the crash. In court, Ravnsborg has maintained he did not know he struck Boever until returning to the crash site west of Highmore the next morning.

Ravnsborg Car
The vehicle of Jason Ravnsborg the morning after he struck and killed Joseph Boever.
Courtesy of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety

The release of the letter on Wednesday raised new concerns from lawmakers on the committee that Gov. Kristi Noem and cabinet secretary Price have politicized the impeachment investigation process. Noem has repeatedly called for Ravnsborg to resign. The governor last year released a videotaped investigatory interview with Ravnsborg before a judge ordered the video removed from a state website.

"It's disgusting," Gosch said in an interview. "It's very calculated. I will be going to ask them [the governor's team] to stop, for the fifth time."

In his office on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jamie Smith, D-Sioux Falls, said the letter's timing was "unfortunate."

"We're in the last two days of our session right now," said Smith, who is campaigning against Noem in the 2022 race for governor. "We have a meeting about this very topic tomorrow. Even if this wasn't the point to put influence on the committee, it sure appears to be that."

Members of the committee said they anticipate wrapping up a recommendation to committee staff by Thursday evening.

Christopher Vondracek is the South Dakota correspondent for Forum News Service. Contact Vondracek at cvondracek@forumcomm.com , or follow him on Twitter: @ChrisVondracek .

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SD Impeachment Testimony
North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents Joe Arenz, front left, and Arnie Rummel, front right, testify regarding their investigation into Jason Ravnsborg before the South Dakota House Select Committee on Investigation on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.
Hunter Dunteman / Mitchell Republic

Related Topics: JASON RAVNSBORGKRISTI NOEM
Christopher Vondracek covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at cvondracek@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVondracek.
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