By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has asked state attorney general Jason Ravnsborg to resign after he killed a man in an accident last fall.
“Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign,” Noem said in a statement. “I have reviewed the material we are releasing, starting today, and I encourage others to review it as well.”
Some South Dakota lawmakers are looking into impeachment proceedings, should Ravnsborg decide to not resign. It would be the first formal impeachment proceedings in the state’s history.
“Rep. Will Mortenson is bringing the impeachment articles with support of House Majority Leader Kent Peterson and Minority Leader Jamie Smith. They’ll make themselves available to the press following the close of floor session today,” tweeted Argus Leader political reporter Joe Sneve.
Ravnsborg has been charged with three misdemeanor offenses in the September death of Joseph Boever, who was walking along the shoulder of Highway 14 west of Highmore when authorities say Ravnsborg’s vehicle veered onto the shoulder and struck Boever.
Ravnsborg was charged with operating a vehicle while using a mobile electronic device, illegal lane change and careless driving. Each carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and fines of $500 each.
In a 911 call made by Ravnsborg the night of the incident, the dispatcher asked him if he might have struck a deer and he responded that he did not know, later adding that it could have been a deer and that it was right in the roadway.
The Hyde County Sheriff arrived on scene to assess the damage to the AG’s vehicle and look for the “deer.”
Neither the sheriff nor Ravnsborg saw Boever’s body in the ditch, even though Ravnsborg used his cell phone flashlight to search the area.
Ravnsborg borrowed the sheriff’s personal vehicle to drive back to Pierre that night.
He returned to the scene of the crash the following morning on his way to return the sheriff’s vehicle. He and an employee stopped to look for the animal again, but instead found Boever’s body nearby.
Ravnsborg’s spokesman told the newspaper on Monday that the attorney general had no plans of resigning.
“The investigators have presented their findings and recommended misdemeanor infractions in a wholistic process they described as going ‘above and beyond,’ and we look forward to the continued due process of the law,” Mike Deaver said.