Sunday, September 25, 2022

South Dakota’s attorney general impeached over fatal 2020 car accident

PIERRE, SD ( Associated Press) — South Dakota House on Tuesday impeached State Attorney General Jason Ravensborg in a 2020 car crash in which he killed a pedestrian but initially said he killed a deer or another large animal. would have killed

Ravensborg, a Republican, is the first official to be impeached in South Dakota history. He will be removed from office at least temporarily pending the historic Senate trial, where a two-thirds majority is required to plead guilty to impeachment charges. The Senate will have to wait at least 20 days to conduct its trial, but has not yet set a date.

Read more: South Dakota AG fined, no jail time in pedestrian death

Ravensborg pleaded no contest to a pair of traffic misdemeanors involved in an accident last year, which also involved making an illegal lane change. He described Joseph Bower’s death as a tragic accident.

Voting narrowly to impeach the state’s top prosecutor, the Republican-controlled House accused Ravensborg of committing a crime that caused someone’s death, “multiple misrepresentations” to law enforcement officers after the accident and criminal Used his office to navigate the investigation. The Senate sentence would mean that Ravensborg would be barred from holding any future state office.

“When we’re dealing with the life of one of your citizens, I think it takes a toll on everyone,” said Republican Rep. Will Mortensen, who presented the articles of impeachment.

Ravensborg said in a statement that he awaits a Senate trial, “where I believe I will be upheld.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General’s Chief of Staff Tim Boorman said his staff would “dedicate themselves professionally” to their work while Ransborg is forced to take leave.

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Ravensborg, who took office in 2019, was returning home from a Republican dinner in September 2020 when he struck and killed Bower, who was walking on a rural highway. A sheriff who responded after Ravensborg called 911, initially reported it as a collision with an animal. Ravensborg has said that she didn’t realize she killed a man until she returned the next day and found the body.

The Highway Patrol concluded that Ravensborg’s car completely crossed the shoulder of the highway before hitting Bower, and criminal investigators later said they did not believe some of Ravensborg’s statements.

The House rejected the recommendation of a GOP-backed majority report from a special investigative committee, arguing that what he did wrong was not part of his official duties “in office.” But even Republican lawmakers who argued his actions did not meet the constitutional basis for impeachment said Ravensborg should resign.

“He should have stepped down, he should have done a respectable job,” said House Speaker Spencer Gosh, who oversaw the House investigation and voted against impeachment.

Articles of impeachment required approval by a majority of 70 members of the House and were passed by only one vote.

Of the 36 people who voted in favor, eight were Democrats and 28 Republicans. 31 were all Republicans against it. Republican Representative Scott Odenbach distanced himself as he offered legal advice to the attorney general after the accident. Two other Republican lawmakers were absent.

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Ravensborg, who was largely silent about the crash and was not present for the vote, sent a pair of derogatory letters to lawmakers on Monday night urging them not to be impeached.

“In a few hours, your vote will set a precedent for years to come,” Ravensborg wrote. “No state has ever impeached an elected official for a traffic accident.”

He also accused Republican Gov. Christi Noem of interfering with the investigation and of supporting impeachment as the attorney general investigated his behavior.

Ravensborg broke out with the governor after the accident, pushing a pair of ethical complaints against Noam to the state’s Government Accountability Board. His office is also investigating whether an organization aligned with the governor has broken campaign finance disclosure laws.

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name vote on twitterWriting that the House did “the right thing for the people of South Dakota and the family of Joe Bower.”

The decision brought some relief to his family, who saw their wedding photo from the House gallery during the vote. He has decried the criminal prosecution for Ravensborg as a “slap on the wrist”.

“We’re one step closer to justice. We haven’t acted,” said Bower’s cousin, Nick Nemec.

“Now we need the Senate’s help on this because these laws badly need to be changed,” said Jennifer Bower, who was married to Bower. “People are getting injured and killed, and a pedestrian has no self-defense against a 4,000-pound (1,814 kg) vehicle.”

Nation World News Desk
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