Governor Kristi Noem is asking the Legislature to consider impeaching Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg after he pleaded no-contest to a pair of driving-related misdemeanors.
Ravnsborg was driving on a rural highway the night of Sept. 12, 2020, when he fatally struck pedestrian Joe Boever.
Noem issued a news release after Thursday’s court proceeding.
“If Ravnsborg does not resign, as I believe he should, the Legislature can and should consider the articles of impeachment already brought in the House,” Noem said in a statement.
Noem said she’s asked the Department of Public Safety to send Ravnsborg’s investigative file to House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham.
“This information is kind of new and fresh to us, so we have to evaluate it before we make an official comment,” Gosch said.
Ravnsborg did not attend his change-of-plea and sentencing hearing.
Instead, his attorney entered pleas of no contest to driving outside the lane and driving while using an electronic device. Prosecutors dropped a third charge of careless driving.
Ravnsborg could have been sentenced up to 60 days in jail but John Brown, a retired judge assigned to the case, instead ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine and $3,742 in court costs.
The judge also wants Ravnsborg to “do a significant public service event” in each of the next five years around the anniversary of Joe Boever’s death. That condition could take effect after lawyers submit written arguments on whether South Dakota law allows such punishments for no-contest pleas.
Ravnsborg said in a statement that he has no plans to resign.
“I am very sorry Joe Boever lost his life in this accident. I am sorry to the entire family for the loss of their loved one,” he wrote.
“Partisan opportunists from both sides of the aisle” have spread rumors and conspiracy theories while “the media has reported many untrue, and misleading things,” Ravnsborg added.
Ravnsborg did not list any examples of the alleged media falsehoods.
Noem criticized Ravnsborg’s statement and the outcome of the case.
“Like many South Dakotans, I am not only disappointed in how this process was handled by prosecutors, but outraged at the result of today’s plea hearing and sentencing,” Noem said. “Ravnsborg has not accepted responsibility for the death of Joseph Boever and did not even appear in court today to face the charges or the Boever family.”
Investigators said Boever was carrying a flashlight and walking in the shoulder. They said he crashed head-first into Ravnsborg’s windshield, leaving his glasses in the passenger seat.
Ravnsborg said he never saw Boever before, during or after the night of the crash despite searching with Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek for what he thought was a deer. He said he borrowed Volek’s personal vehicle to drive home to Pierre before discovering Boever just off the road while returning the car the next morning.
For more coverage on this developing story, read/listen to Victoria Wick's report: Ravnsborg Takes Plea Deal For Role In Death Of Boever