Governor Kristi Noem called for South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a Republican, to resign on Tuesday, only days after Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanors stemming from the summer when he fatally struck a pedestrian by the highway.
“Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign. I have reviewed the material we are releasing, starting today, and I encourage others to review it as well,” said Noem on Twitter.
Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign. I have reviewed the material we are releasing, starting today, and I encourage others to review it as well.
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) February 23, 2021
Back in the summer, Ravnsborg, 44, was driving home at night from a fundraiser when he called authorities to report he hit what he believed to be a large animal on the highway. No one managed to find what he could have hit until Ravnsborg revisited the site of the accident the following morning, and found the body of a man lying in a ditch.
Although he wasn’t on his cell phone at the time of the crash, authorities said Sunday that he did use his cell phone earlier on that same drive. Ravnsborg is facing three misdemeanors, including one count of operating his car while using a cellphone, one count of failing to stay in his lane on the highway, and one count for careless driving, as The Daily Wire previously reported.
A bipartisan group of South Dakota lawmakers are also supporting articles of impeachment against Ravnsborg, including both the Democratic leader and the Republican leader, according to the Argus Leader. The two articles, filed Tuesday, accuse Ravnsborg of failing “to meet the standard” of the attorney general’s office and engaging in “unbecoming actions.”
“This isn’t about party or politics,” said Kent Peterson, the Republican House majority leader, reports the news agency. “It’s about doing the right thing for South Dakota. We must hold our elected leaders to a high standard. In this case, the attorney general has failed to meet that standard, and we owe it to the people to bring these Articles.”
A spokesperson for Ravnsborg said the attorney general doesn’t plan to resign.
“At no time has this issue impeded his ability to do the work of the office,” said Mike Deaver, a Ravsnborg spokesperson, reports the Argus Leader. “Instead, he has handled some of the largest settlements and legislative issues the state has ever been through.”
Emily Sovell, the Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney, explained Sunday that more serious charges, such as manslaughter, couldn’t apply. “Operation of a motor vehicle in violation of a law is not in and of itself sufficient to constitute the recklessness required for that manslaughter statue, even if a person is killed as a result,” she said.
There also wasn’t evidence that Ravnsborg was driving in a reckless manner at the time of the crash, or that he was driving while intoxicated, according to state authorities. In a Sunday press conference, Michael Moore, the South Dakota state’s attorney for Beadle County, explained that both of these elements would be necessary for a vehicular manslaughter charge to be applicable.
The investigation was led by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation in order to avoid conflict of interest concerns.