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Brookings Register | Lawmakers release petition to consider AG impeachment

SIOUX FALLS (AP) – South Dakota legislative leaders on Friday distributed a petition to lawmakers asking them to support a special session to consider impeaching Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for a car crash last year that killed a pedestrian.

House Speaker Spencer Gosch released the text of the petition. Two-thirds of both the Republican-controlled House and Senate must sign on to convene the special session. Lawmakers would meet in November, the day after they are scheduled to hold a special session to consider new legislative districts.

The petition says the special session would be called for “investigating and evaluating whether the conduct of Jason Ravnsborg … surrounding the death of Joe Boever, involved impeachable offenses.”

Gosch has said that if the special session is approved, he will appoint a committee to investigate the conduct of the attorney general, a Republican whose term runs through 2022. The South Dakota Legislature has never tried to impeach an official as powerful as an attorney general. It would require a simple majority of the House to approve articles of impeachment, while two-thirds of senators must vote to convict and remove him from office. 

The attorney general pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors last month, and prosecutors dropped a third misdemeanor. Ravnsborg avoided jail time and was sentenced to fines totaling over $4,500 for making an illegal lane change and using a cellphone while driving. Investigators said his car veered onto the shoulder of the rural highway where Boever was walking late on Sept. 12 last year and that Ravnsborg had been on his cellphone about a minute before the crash.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has repeatedly called for Ravnsborg’s resignation, but he has insisted he will not resign and can perform the duties of his office.

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