A historic Senate trial looms in South Dakota, where the state House on Tuesday impeached state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg over a 2020 car crash that killed a pedestrian. The AP reports Ravnsborg, a Republican, sent two "defiant" letters to lawmakers on Monday night. In one he penned, he argued GOP Gov. Kristi Noem had meddled in the investigation in a tit-for-tat over the attorney general's own investigations into her. "No state has ever impeached an elected official for a traffic accident," he noted (no state official has even been impeached in South Dakota). The second letter, from Ravnsborg's rep, reviewed "evidence, allegations, and misconceptions" about the case.
The South Dakota House voted 36-31 to impeach despite a recommendation issued in March by a special investigative committee who found Ravnsborg's actions did not qualify as impeachable offenses, reports the Argus Leader. Noem painted Ravnsborg as having lied to investigators, and Democrats had also been in favor of impeachment, describing Ravnsborg as not "forthcoming" to law enforcement officers who were investigating Joseph Boever's death. In the immediate wake of the accident, Ravnsborg said he thought he struck an animal. He returned to the scene the next day and found the 55-year-old's body.
According to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Ravnsborg's car left the road and entered the highway shoulder before striking Boever. Criminal investigators said they were skeptical about some of Ravnsborg’s statements. He took a plea deal in the case and ended up paying a fine for two misdemeanors, CNN reports. Boever's widow, Jennifer, reacted to the news: "We were happy and for this man to come along (and) take it away ... this is just inexcusable. I'm glad that we got the vote here and now we just need the Senate's help on this." The trial is possibly slated for early June, and Ravnsborg will be removed from office until it wraps up. It will take a two-thirds majority to convict on impeachment charges. (Read more Jason Ravnsborg stories.)