Legislature can still do the right thing

In a shocking but not surprising move, a special South Dakota House committee voted 6-2 against recommending impeachment for South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. The committee voted following several hours in executive session to complete their report on an investigation into whether Ravnsborg committed impeachable offenses when he hit and killed Joe Boever with his car in September 2020.
“After careful and comprehensive investigation and consideration of the facts and applicable law, a majority of the Select Committee hereby concludes Attorney General Ravnsborg did not commit an impeachable offense in his conduct surrounding the death of Joe Boever,” committee chairman and House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, said following more than four hours of closed-door deliberations. “The Select Committee recommends that articles of impeachment do not issue.”
You might need to read that paragraph again. Ravnsborg struck and killed a man with his car, but did not commit an impeachable offense in the conduct surrounding Boever’s death. So how many people does a man have to kill to commit an impeachable offense. Five? 10? A baker’s dozen?
Boever, 55, was walking along Highway 14 near Highmore during the nighttime hours of Sept. 12, 2020, when he was struck by a vehicle being driven by Ravnsborg, who’d been traveling back to his home in Pierre from a political function in Redfield earlier in the evening. Ravnsborg had reported in a 911 call following the crash that he did not know what he’d struck. Boever’s body was not discovered until the following morning.
Boever’s glasses were found in Ravnsborg’s car. Boever’s still-lit flashlight was found with his body the next day. It’s a bit of a stretch to think Ravnsborg didn’t know he hit a human. Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t know (he was caught in a few probable lies during his interview with law enforcement that he later corrected) he hit a person, the fact remains he did. Whether it was on purpose or not, the fact remains he killed a man.
“A minority of the Select Committee finds that Attorney General Ravnsborg was, at a minimum, not forthcoming to law enforcement officers during the investigation,” reads the final page of the report. That quote is from Reps. Jamie Smith, D-Sioux Falls, and Ryan Cwach, D-Yankton in the minority report issued after the vote.
It seems like the majority of county residents think Ravnsborg should resign or be impeached. How can we have faith in the highest law enforcement official in the state knowing what we know about this incident?
“The Select Committee finds under a clear and convincing standard that Attorney General Ravnsborg did not commit misdemeanor in office, as he committed no crime or other wrongful act involving moral turpitude by virtue or authority of his office,” the report states. So apparently he wasn’t “in office” when he hit Boever. So as long as you’re not on the clock you can kill someone and it’s all good, apparently. Seems odd.
Even though the committee recommended not to impeach, the entire House of Representatives can still do what we believe is the right thing and impeach Ravnsborg when it meets at a special session April 12. We hope that’s exactly what happens. It’s the least that can be done to provide some sort of justice to the Boever family, and remove the cloud from the attorney general’s office.

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