Ravnsborg rolls the dice with impeachment. Was it worth the gamble in an attempt to hold on for another few months?

Today marked the early end of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s first and only term of office as the State Senate completed South Dakota’s sole impeachment of a state official, and barred the AG from future office in South Dakota.

But I have to wonder if the handwriting was on the wall, and delaying the inevitable only made the result more certain. And more painful.

As I opined in April, as it was said that Jason was moving forwards in seeking another term, it was not looking like he would be successful in getting past the Republican convention, especially in the face of a challenge from former Attorney General Marty Jackley, who only narrowly lost the race for Governor to Kristi Noem in 2018.  As he appeared headed towards a convention battle, in mid-May gears suddenly switched and instead of Ravnsborg running, suddenly DCI chief David Natvig was running… and Jason was maybe not moving in that direction.

At least, not that anyone would confirm. Until 11 days ago, when Jason finally let it be known publicly that he would not run for re-election.  And then less than a week ago, Dave Natvig found himself having to dispel rumors that he might keep Jason on as an employee if elected.

While it might not have changed anyone’s mind regarding the two articles of impeachment, which passed 24-9 and 31-2, the impression I have from speaking to many elected officials over the last year or so was that they were ready to be done with the whole affair months ago. And the more that Jason persisted in moving forward with another term of office, the more likely impeachment was going to be successful.

In the run up to the June primary, a poll conducted by South Dakota State University noted that 70% of voters wanted Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg impeached and removed.  But, from other sources, I had heard that the SDSU poll was off. Way off.   But not in a way that would benefit Jason. I’d heard that more accurate and recognized polling was out there which had the total number of South Dakotans who wanted to be done with it sitting closer to 80% of voters.

Candidates out in the field reported that the issue of the impeachment of the Attorney General was THE single most common issue that people were talking about.  But they were not expressing sympathy towards the AG. They wanted it to be over.  The issue of impeachment came up in candidate questionnaires with the media, and it was the subject of harsh attacks against at least one legislator.   The longer it has gone on, I would argue that inertia behind this never-ending controversy which drug on and on only drove an ever-increasing resolve for people to just want it to be done.

If Jason had signaled before session that he would pass on running for another term, would it have removed the appetite for impeachment?  I would guess so.  South Dakota was only within one vote in the House of not impeaching.  Knowing that he was done might have changed at least one mind.   And once we came to the tipping point in April when the House voted, had Jason resigned, it would have stopped the Senate from moving forward. 

It seems like a lot of digging in for the sake of a state job.  In 2021, Jason was paid $118,603.03 by the State of South Dakota. For an attorney who probably made more than that before running for office, I don’t know that trying to hold on for another year was worth the end result.  Now, they’ve voted to not just impeach, but to bar him from holding public office forever in the state.

I can’t imagine that all of this is going to do much good for his military career. It probably isn’t going help his legal career, either.

It was a lot to gamble with in an attempt to hold on for another few months.  After today, I don’t know if many would say it was worth it.

46 thoughts on “Ravnsborg rolls the dice with impeachment. Was it worth the gamble in an attempt to hold on for another few months?”

    1. Impeachment was a harsh outcome. It was maybe over the top in my opinion but it needed to happen because he and his advisers were so tone deaf, they were destroying law enforcement so badly, they put all of these senators in a position they shouldn’t have had to be in. Noem is right that the dark cloud needed to end.

      1. You are a fool…..he has been fighting these same good Ole boys Looooooooooong before the accident.

        Did Vargo ever support him, nope

        Did Alexis ever support him, nope

        Even after he won the nomination they did not support him.

        Vargo saying no one fought him and there were no divisions in the party was one of his countless lies.

  1. It was all very unfortunate, but he made his own bed. As Schoenbeck said today, I think the biggest problem was his lack of contrition over this mess. Taking full responsibility would have gone a long ways — certainly far enough to avoid impeachment.

  2. The lynch mob assembled and quickly conducted the hanging so they could get off to the GOP Convention in Watertown.

    1. 2 years later is not quick and if the house had run a thorough investigation they would have come to a quicker conclusion.

      Gromer sealed that deal. The house only asked Natvig. Turns out one of them is lying.

      Ravnsborg has damaged many conservative leaders reputations.

      1. The Senate ran a fair, professional process. Regardless of what you think of the outcome, you had to be impressed with the process today. The House process was a mess in comparison. There is no reason this couldn’t have been resolved a year ago.

        1. Yeah until wheeler said ignore the Constitution and we have no standards go get him….. ridiculous

          Then schoenbeck…. He has no right to self incrimination as we are making all witnesses take an oath and if we don’t get him this way we will charge him with perjury but we can’t if he doesn’t take the stand…..that was a sad moment in the law

          1. A senate trial is different then a criminal trial, the rights of the defendant are different, as noted by the defense’s “expert.” Shoenbeck is correct in saying that he didn’t have the right to not self-incriminate.

            1. How do you not have federal constitutional rights everywhere?

              Schoenbeck was wrong and out of line.

  3. This is all such a disappointment in the believe that people would do the right thing. Everyone knows noem is behind this to protect her image. It is a shame that a decent person like Ravnsborg was hung to dry by so
    Many people.

      1. Seriously, meddling in it from day one. Releasing interview tapes when told not to by the prosecutor and violating his rights. And that’s just one example.

        1. You are right, Noem shouldn’t have interfered.
          But that’s kind of like one kid blaming the other kid who tattled on them.
          Noem revealed what he said.
          She released evidence that showed he was absolutely at fault and wasn’t being entirely honest about it to the public. She tattled on him.

          She may have had impure motives for going after the former AG, but if there wasn’t ample evidence that he was in fact guilty the votes wouldn’t have fallen they way they did.

          1. Are you kidding me, Anthony, she tainted the entire process so he couldn’t even get a jury trial. Did you know she called up other governors trying to influence them to support her and go against Ravnsborg?

            Sorry, but you clearly didn’t listen to all the facts. This was completely political. Had a judge heard this impeachment case it would have been dissmeased.

            1. Of course it was political. He is (was) a politician right? It wasn’t a criminal trial, it was deciding if he was fit for POLITICAL office and most people thought he wasn’t. End of story.

            2. Do you think for a second that if there was a jury trial for his criminal offense that this wouldn’t have been published THEN? Do you think that the prosecution wouldn’t have wheeled out the video evidence and played it for the jury and the entered it officially into the public record?
              Do you think that in the course of that criminal trial that he wouldn’t have been found guilty of the three misdemeanors that he was charged with?
              He pled no contest because he recognized that the state was going to be able to prove their case.

              As far as the impeachment case – This wasn’t a Criminal Trial. The standards ARE different.
              He couldn’t go to jail. They couldn’t fine him or put a felony conviction on his record.
              This was “Should this person keep their job and is he eligible for re-hire.”
              He could get fired. That’s it.

              And the Senate overwhelmingly determined that he shouldn’t keep his job.
              For some that might have been purely political.
              For some that may have been because they think he couldn’t be effective at his job.
              Some may think that he didn’t show proper remorse for killing a man.
              For some that may have been because they think what he did disserved more punishment than the state criminal justice system allowed.

              I think you dramatically over-estimate the former AG’s popularity if you think that this was completely political. Did people, including the governor jump on this opportunistically? Of course they did. They are politicians -just like the former AG.
              But the former AG has only himself to blame. There were many many ways that he could have put this behind him and come out stronger for it. But all of those would have meant he needed to take personal responsibility for his actions and shown genuine remorse.

              1. Noem wanted the AG out so she could appoint someone to help cover up the fact she forced a government employee to give her daughter a license and then had her fired. That is the truth of it all.

                  1. Yeah, and the guy was 5 times over-medicated. Stumbling on the road from an eyewitness, and it is stated his preferred method of suicide was being hit by a car. And there was glass, a bolt, and blood splatters all on the road. But why look at the evidence.

  4. It depends upon, at the very heart of it all, the truth of the matter.

    Interesting tangential point: “Crazy” can be misnomered to “courageous” or other terms.

    The Marines getting off the boats at Normandy were ..

  5. I’ve never heard anyone claim Mr. Ravnsborg was smart or competent.

    Now that’s over, and we must hope the delegates to the conventions are smarter than they were the last go-around.

    1. I guess you are a Marty or noem crownie. All I have heard is how Ravnsborg did everything he could to help the Republican Party in South Dakota.

      1. What exactly has he done for the Republican Party? No one had ever heard of Jason until he decided he wanted to run for office. Then he started showing up. He worked very hard, yes, but it wasn’t to help the party – it was to get the party to help him by elected him AG.

        Then after the accident, and once the investigation ended, the best thing for the party clearly would have been for him to resign. But he selfishly held on and drug this out for another year.

        And I would predict that now that there is no elected office in his future, Jason will no longer be seen at party events, not that I can blame him.

        1. Seriously, how many times did he help against ballot measures and educating everyone that asked? All I heard about from fellow republicans was how much of help he was.

          1. When you live, work, and breath in an echo chamber it should be no surprise that’s all you heard. It’s the same reason Haugard thought he had a chance. When you only listen to people who think like you 100% of the time, it’s likely that you only hear how awesome you are.
            On the other hand, most Republicans are extremely disappointed our party and the institution had to be dragged through this. Did Jason have a right to not resign? Absolutely. And through a legitimate process, he was told to leave. Was/is Jason a bad person all around with no redeeming qualities. Absolutely not. He did do some good things, but it doesn’t out weigh the damage he did to the party, and more importantly to his victim. You can’t smoke crack and then eat a bran muffin and think the two things cancel out.

          1. Every Republican from the party I have met across this state talks about how helpful he has been and willing to speak at their gigs.

      2. This is the only reply post that really hits every point intelligently and without bombastic hyperbole. This wasn’t a criminal proceeding and could have been avoided. End of story.

    2. The genius that is the Ravnsborg/Natvig legal duo probably shouldn’t be left to defend SD when Roe goes down.

      It looks like courtrooms and winning strategies aren’t their forte.

  6. I think it was just what he said, he believes Noem broke the law and she was doing everything she could to get him before he got her.

    1. And her reward for that will be dealing with Jackley, who regardless of their current love fest still holds a grudge over how she campaigned against him in 2018 and is a more politically savvy adversary than Ravnsborg was. He will have no problem picking up where the investigations left off and keep going after her whenever the opportunity presents itself.

      Remember, in 2026 there will be an open Governor’s seat, potentially an open Senate seat if Rounds decides to retire, and possibly House seat if Dusty tries for one of the former two. Jackley wants to be more than AG and anything to weaken Noem will him help him in those efforts.

      1. Jackley will do what is best for Jackley. He wants to run for Governor. Best thing would be to stick a fork in him now, then Dusty won’t have to deal with him in 2026.

  7. They didn’t really give him much choice. Schoenbeck announced early on that they were still going to vote to disqualify him even if he resigned.

  8. Why isn’t there more coverage regarding the testimony that David Natvig allegedly lied during the House Hearing? I know both men and SSA Gromer is above reproach. He is a good man that carries himself with honor.

    Austin Goss
    @AustinGOssSD
    To be clear, Gromer suggested that
    Natvig lied about and minimized the
    conversation that Gromer would later
    file a report on.
    11:55 AM • Jun 21, 2022 • Twitter Web App

    1. What about. everything Marty has been lying about while campaigning, we should see that as well?

  9. SOUTH DAKOTA LEGISLATURE VOTES TO REMOVE ATTORNEY GENERAL
    Dangerous Precedent Has Been Set That Will Affect Future Legislators

    June 21, 2022 – the South Dakota State Senate has voted *snip*

    Mike, if you’re going to post in the comment section, please keep it original and on-topic, and not a repost of entire entire columns you are posting elsewhere. – the editor

    1. Well, my post was original, as it was written by me only. I am sorry if I copy and pasted my comments from my facebook page, but I felt it was meaningful for here as well. But from now on, I will refrain from doing so in the future. I will limit my future posts to 50 words or less.

  10. It is clear by comments in these various threads it was not about the accident.

    It’s all politics, many of you didn’t like that he won in the first place. Then add in his investigations of Noem—- someone who should have never been involved in the first place and who has handled this extremely poorly and clearly has motives.

    South Dakota I predict have more impeachments as a result of this action

      1. Seriously, of course, it is all about politics. Nothing is about the accident, if it was everything would have been dropped a lot of time.

          1. He didn’t kill a man, and you keep saying the same uneducated / non-fact supported statement.

            It was ruled an accident, hence the prosecutor did not charge. Sorry, you are wrong again.

            1. HE KILLED A MAN.
              Accident or not, he was driving his car and hit him.
              It was an accident, but because HE was driving distracted, HE killed a man.
              It didn’t meet the legal definition of vehicular homicide in the state so they couldn’t charge him with vehicular homicide.
              It didn’t meet the legal definition of manslaughter, so they couldn’t charge him with manslaughter.
              He wasn’t deliberately trying to kill him so they couldn’t charge him with murder.
              In Minnesota he could have been charged with vehicular manslaughter. In North Dakota he could have been charged with Negligent Homicide. In Wyoming he could have been charged with Homicide by Vehicle.
              The fact that our state basically says you can’t be charged with vehicular homicide unless you’re drunk means the couldn’t be charged with anything worse.

              HE KILLED A MAN.

  11. Tragedy for all involved.

    Let’s all take a moment and pray for all involved.

    A lot of healing is needed by a lot of people.

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