After more than a year of avoiding jail time related to the murder of a pedestrian, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg may finally be held accountable for his actions. Calls for his resignation are increasing nationwide as he faces an impeachment inquiry.
Investigations into his actions were opened up to the public by Ravnsborg’s Republican colleague, Gov. Kristi Noem. According to Daily Kos, new evidence in the case was shared in March by a Noem appointee.
The GOP attorney general was driving home from a political fundraiser on Sept. 12 when he struck a man, who was walking on the side of a highway. In a 911 call after the crash, Ravnsborg claimed he hit a deer. He said he didn't realize he struck a man until he returned to the crash scene the next day and discovered the body of Joseph Boever. He failed to mention that the victim’s glasses were in his car. Claiming he did nothing wrong, Ravnsborg insisted he remains the state's top law enforcement officer.
At the time, many Republicans supported this decision, but his popular predecessor Marty Jackley has gathered even more support, causing GOP officials to slowly “turn” on Ravnsborg and rethink his driving accident.
According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the South Dakota House of Representatives will decide whether or not Ravnsborg can stay in office on Tuesday. The vote could end as the state Capitol’s first-ever impeachment of a constitutional officer.
The move follows an investigation recommended to the House Select Committee last month. Despite investigations and new evidence being introduced, the chamber decided not to vote to impeach following a secret closed meeting on March 28. Since then, resolutions have pushed representatives to rethink their decision.
"This is long overdue, and hopefully, we can get the situation resolved for the betterment of the people of South Dakota," Rep. Sydney Davis told the Argus Leader.
Others "on the fence” expressed similar concerns, including Republican State Rep. Charlie Hoffman, who was swayed after a presentation by South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers last Wednesday, in which Ravnsborg was proven to be a reckless driver.
“After seeing the length of time Mr. Boever’s body was on the AG’s car with his head inside of the AG’s car’s window, and then flying off hitting the middle of the lane behind the AG’s car, leaving bone fragments on the road and skidding into the ditch at 65 mph, my mind has changed,” he told The Daily Beast on Friday. “I now have irrefutable evidence the AG knew exactly what he hit and lied to investigators and the Hyde County sheriff.”
The presentation confirmed multiple speeding tickets and other driving violations Ravnsborg had received.
According to the Dakota Free Press, investigations have found various discrepancies and issues in how the case was handled. The sheriff who allegedly gave Ravnsborg a ride after the incident not only failed to investigate the accident but ignored scenes of the crime, including Boever’s flashlight, which he assumed was from Ravnsborg’s car.
The decision to impeach now lies in the hands of the full House. Given the new details the Department of Public Safety provided this week to prove Ravnsborg was distracted the night he killed Boever, one can hope the House will make the right decision.