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Lawmaker drafts Ravnsborg impeachment articles day before vote

Kevin Woster

Lawmakers meet Tuesday morning to decide whether to impeach the state’s top law enforcement official.

One House lawmaker is drafting articles of impeachment against Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for his involvement in a fatal crash.

Rep. Will Mortenson, R-Pierre, has introduced new articles of impeachment to his legislative colleagues.

The articles state Ravnsborg’s actions after the fatal crash amounted to malfeasance in office. They also say he made misstatements and misrepresentations. That combined with killing a pedestrian form the basis for a possible impeachment.

In a written statement, Mortenson says impeachment is a difficult topic and not taken lightly.

SDPB obtained emails shared among lawmakers that discuss the impeachment articles and their role in the process.

Some House lawmakers say an impeachment panel has failed to distinguish between impeachment and removal from office. They say the House is responsible for impeachment. State senators then determine any next step.

The panel recommended against impeaching Attorney General Ravnsborg late last month. Attorneys and members of law enforcement made up the group.

Republican Rep. David Anderson, R-Hudson, says the case is serious enough to warrant Ravnsborg’s impeachment. But he says the committee investigating it approached impeachment like a criminal trial.

“We are not the judicial branch. That process has already taken place, and it’s been completed whether we agree with it or not. That has taken place," Anderson says. "We as a legislature have a different responsibility. That’s to hold people accountable.”

However, those recommending against any action say Ravnsborg’s case does not meet constitutional requirements for impeachment.