Impeachment begins for South Dakota attorney general who killed a man
Jason Ravnsborg. (South Dakota Attorney General’s Office)

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg hit a man while driving home from a political fundraiser, leaving him for dead in the road. But in the 647 days since, Rolling Stone noted that Ravnsborg has only doubled down on staying in his position as the state's top lawmaker.

A whopping 70 percent of the state wants him to resign and he was the first state official in South Dakota to be impeached.

“Some of his closest friends have asked him to step down, and still he resists,” the South Dakota House Speaker Spencer Gosch told the magazine. "I honestly couldn’t tell you why."

Gosch was among those Republicans who voted against impeachment, however. Ravnsborg is still being impeached, with a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday.

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Ravnsborg has become a huge problem for the political career of Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD), who is being rumored as a possible vice presidential running mate for Donald Trump if he runs in 2024. Even without Trump, Noem is expected to be among the Republican candidates for president if not in 2024 then in the presidential election that follows.

She has already begun fighting against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a 2024 presumptive presidential candidate. He has promoted his actions around COVID-19, saying that he allowed for greater freedoms for the state. Noem fought back against the idea, saying that she never closed her state's business the way that DeSantis did.

As she eyes her next political steps she has pressured Republicans to impeach Ravnsborg. Killing a man and leaving the scene made him a political pariah, but two years later the GOP hasn't completely turned on him.

"In the April vote, more than half of the Republicans in the state House voted against impeachment, despite Noem’s prodding. Many of those legislators have their doubts that Noem is pushing to remove Ravnsborg for virtuous reasons," Rolling Stone reported.

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At the same time as the crash, Ravnsborg was taking on the state's richest man, T. Denny Sanford over child pornography. Meanwhile, he was probing many of Noem's alleged crimes and possible ethics violations. That gave Republican foes of hers an out to make it not about the attorney general who killed a man but about the governor.

“Why is Gov. Noem going to the mat to try and get this guy out?” the report quoted Republican state Rep. Tom Pischke. “What does Jason have on her?”

Ravnsborg's 911 call after hitting 55-year-old Joe Boever discussed concerns he “hit something.” The 911 dispatcher asked Ravnsborg if it was possible that it was a deer. “I have no idea. Yeah, it could be.” It wasn't.

“It’s very evident in my mind that he knew he hit a body that night, and then went home and left him there until the next day,” Rep. Tim Goodwin, another Republican said.

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“I don’t believe he ever thought he hit a deer,” echoed Democrat Jamie Smith, who serves as the minority leader in the state House.

Ravnsborg was never charged with the murder, merely driving while using a mobile device, improper lane driving and careless driving. He made a plea deal. He paid a $500 fine for two charges. Prior to hitting the man, Ravnsborg was pulled over at least 15 times in two years by police.

“If Jason doesn’t get removed,” a source close to Noem told Rolling Stone, “it’s a major hit for her.”

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