PIERRE — On the eve of a vote to allow articles of impeachment against Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota’s attorney general has broken months of silence on the matter.

Ravnsborg’s spokesperson released a letter to South Dakota lawmakers Monday evening, in which the attorney general defended his actions following a Sept. 12, 2020 crash that killed a pedestrian. The letter also accused Governor Kristi Noem of interfering in the investigation for political gain, criticizing the governor and accusing her of seeking her removal due to investigations into her behavior.

Ravnsborg urged lawmakers to follow a House committee’s decision not to recommend impeachment.

“Your decision could void an election and set a dangerous precedent for all elected officials in South Dakota,” he wrote. “As such, I respectfully request that you adopt the House Investigative Committees” [sic] majority report and declare this matter complete and final and let the healing process continue.

Ravnsborg’s letter comes ahead of the full House meeting on Tuesday in Pierre to decide whether the attorney general should be impeached over the crash that killed 55-year-old Joe Boever. Investigators alleged that Ranvsborg had read news articles on his phone before the accident and that he had driven onto the shoulder of Highway 14 west of Highmore where he hit Boever, who was walking along from the highway.

While the House Special Investigative Committee concluded that Ravnsborg should not be impeached over the crash, other lawmakers say his conduct following the crash should also be considered impeachable offenses. .

Ravnsborg ultimately did not contest two misdemeanors. His letter to lawmakers claimed that if he was impeached for minor driving offenses, others in office could be impeached as well.

“Creating such a low precedent will affect many members of the Legislative Assembly who have been convicted of Class 2 and Class 1 misdemeanors,” he wrote. “If so, when will their impeachment or deportation process begin if that is the new normal? Who could be next to resist impeachment, whether based on the merits of a case or a decision by the governor? »

Ravnsborg slams Noem in letter to lawmakers

Ranvsborg remained essentially silent as the legal and political process unfolded. During the legal proceedings regarding the accident, the Attorney General did not attend the hearings. Because the charges against him were misdemeanors, he was not required to do so.

The letter had multiple errors and appeared to have been a draft that had not been completed before publication. In one sentence, words that were supposed to have been deleted appeared crossed out. In the opening sentence, he had the wrong date of the accident.

But those opening paragraphs of the letter criticized Noem, who called for his resignation and then his impeachment more than a year ago. Ravnsborg accused the governor of using the accident as a political weapon. His motivation, he said, was to install a new attorney general of his choice.

“I could not resign then and I cannot resign now because the incident did not impair my ability to perform the duties of Attorney General, including ongoing investigations into the executive office,” a- he writes. “Knowing that Governor Noem could select my replacement, I felt it was appropriate to remain in office to maintain checks and balances within the state.”

He accused Noem of violating his due process and privacy rights, and said his office’s investigations into his activities played a part in his animosity towards him.

“My office has several ongoing investigations into the alleged activities of the governor and those associated with him,” he wrote. “However, despite her procedural interference and bias towards me, I believe she has rights and should have the ability to let process prevail regarding these open investigations into her and her administration. Justice should be blind and we have all rights under the federal and state constitution.

Ravnsborg also issued an apology to Boever’s family.

“It has been 576 days since the accident,” he wrote. “I write it down on my calendar every day and think about it. I want to say ‘I’m sorry’. Every day I think of Joe Boever, a man I had never met who changed my life forever. I am sorry that the family had to endure this tragedy in so many ways and were placed in the middle of this highly political situation. »

Noem’s office responds to letter: ‘The facts of the case speak for themselves’

Governor Noem’s office responded to Ravsnborg’s letter Tuesday morning, saying Ravnsborg was trying to distract from the impeachment vote by blaming her.

“The people of South Dakota deserve to know the truth,” the statement said. “The facts of the case speak for themselves. Anyone who wants to know the real facts should ignore the Attorney General’s bizarre letter and instead read Secretary Price’s letter to President Gosch and watch last week’s Highway Patrol presentation. The Attorney General wants to do this about me to distract the members of the House, when in fact the question before them is whether he should be the highest law enforcement official in the state .

“He killed an innocent man, lied about the events of that evening and abused his office to cover it up,” the statement continued. “He had months to offer his testimony to the impeachment committee, but instead waited until night before the House reconvened. The question for the House is, do they believe that all of the law enforcement officers who investigated this case are lying? Jason does; No. I support law enforcement.

To read all the stories today, Click here or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our electronic edition or home delivery.