Article of Impeachment Filed Against Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg
Republican Representative Will Mortenson (District 24) has filed a resolution proposing two Articles of Impeachment to remove Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office. The resolution is co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Kent Peterson (R-District 19) and House Minority Leader Jamie Smith (D-District 15).
“The Attorney General has a special obligation to follow the laws and protect the public,” said Mortenson. “Jason Ravnsborg’s actions and statements related to the death of Joseph Boever breached those obligations to the people of South Dakota, and he should be removed from office.”
Article XVI of the South Dakota Constitution grants the House of Representatives the sole authority to bring an impeachment action against a state official like the Attorney General. The resolution included two separate Articles of Impeachment, one concerning the crimes and misdemeanors that caused the death of Joseph Boever on September 12, 2020 and one concerning the statements and actions of Jason Ravnsborg in reporting the crime and the resulting investigation.
“This isn’t about party or politics. It’s about doing the right thing for South Dakota,” said Peterson. “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,” Peterson added.
“What happened was a tragedy for all involved,” said Smith. “However, that cannot deter us from fulfilling our duties. The Attorney General has lost the confidence of the people of South Dakota, and he should be removed from office for the betterment of the state.”
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Rep. Will Mortenson (R-District 24) Statement on Filing Articles of Impeachment:
“Earlier today, I filed a Resolution including Articles of Impeachment calling for the removal of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office. The decision was unpleasant and the situation is truly tragic, for all involved.
The filing followed months of consideration and advice. Ultimately, I felt that while the charging decision may have been correct, the Attorney General owes a higher duty to the Laws of the State of South Dakota and the People of the State of South Dakota. In his actions on the night of September 12, 2020 and following the incident, Attorney General Ravnsborg breached that duty and has lost the confidence of the people of South Dakota. When that happens, I believe the legislature has an obligation to exercise its constitutional authority to remove him from office.
There are several aspects that I’d like you to know about the decision.
First, I have no axe to grind with Attorney General Ravnsborg. I have always had a good relationship with him. This is not political and it is not personal. Again, I do not believe Attorney General Ravnsborg belongs in prison, but I know he does not belong in the Office of the Attorney General anymore.
Second, removal from office is an exceptional mechanism and should only be used in exceptional cases. In Washington, DC, they use impeachment to further political agendas and carry out partisan missions. In South Dakota, we should only use this in grave circumstances. In this case, a state official caused the death of a citizen and failed to comport himself in the standards we expect following the incident. Our state has never had such an occurrence, where the elected official refused to resign. In short, this is clearly an exceptional case.
Finally, the Attorney General is a member of the same party as me and I know him. Those facts cannot dissuade me from making this decision. We need to put principle and our people ahead of politics or our party. In South Dakota, the fact that we are in the same party means that my colleagues and I have had a lot of opportunities to spend time with Attorney General Ravnsborg. That makes this a very uncomfortable exercise, and I would ask that all members are afforded grace in their decision-making.”