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State Senate sets impeachment trial date

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SDPB

State senators will hold an impeachment trial in the case of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg on June 21 and 22.

The announcement of the trial date comes one day after House lawmakers voted to impeach Ravnsborg for his involvement in a fatal crash that took the life of a pedestrian.

House lawmakers approved two articles of impeachment against Ravnsborg — one for crimes that led to the death of Joe Boever, and another for malfeasance in office.

The Senate will conduct a trial to determine whether Ravnsborg should be removed from office.

Republican state Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, of Watertown, leads the Senate.

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SD Legislative Research Council
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SD Legislative Research Council
Lee Schoenbeck

He expects senators to read the full investigation file.

“This isn’t like a criminal trial. It’s a political trial. There’s no reason to have the senators sit on the floor and start reading reports. That should all be done beforehand. I believe it will be.”

The case for impeachment will get presented by Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo and Clay County State’s Attorney Alexis Tracy. Vargo was a deputy state’s attorney in the criminal trial against Ravnsborg.

Schoenbeck says they will present to the Senate at no charge.

“And then the trial will take place on June 21 and 22, which were the first two days I could find where I would have 100 percent of the senators in a position where they could be there. And we will get our work done in two days.”

Ravnsborg will get the chance to present his case before the Senate. Shortly after the House voted to impeach the attorney general, Ravnsborg issued a statement saying he respects the House impeachment process, but that he looks forward to the Senate trial where he believes he will be vindicated.

Schoenbeck says any information senators see, the public will also see. He says the trial will have "absolute transparency."

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.