The South Dakota state Senate removed Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office on Tuesday following a day-long impeachment trial.
Ravnsborg, elected in 2018, was first charged with three misdemeanors in February 2021 for a fatal car crash that killed a pedestrian. He initially told police in September 2020 that he believed he hit a deer while driving home from a South Dakota Republican Party event, only learning he struck a pedestrian the next morning. However, Ravnsborg repeatedly changed his story about whether or not he was using his cell phone while driving, leading to a “malfeasance in office” charge from the South Dakota legislature,” CNN reported.
The state Senate convicted 31-2 on the “malfeasance in office” charge and 24-9 for “committing a crime that caused the death of a person.” Ravnsborg is barred from holding future office in the state.
Ravnsborg pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to the collision, but refused to resign from office despite pressure from Republican Gov. Kristi Noem. (RELATED: REPORT: South Dakota Attorney General Reported Hitting A Deer, But He Actually Hit And Killed A Man)
“After nearly 2 years the dark cloud over the Attorney General’s office has been lifted. It is now time to move on and begin to restore confidence in the office,” Noem tweeted following the Senate conviction.
After nearly 2 years the dark cloud over the Attorney General’s office has been lifted.
It is now time to move on and begin to restore confidence in the office.
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) June 21, 2022
In addition to the collision, Ravnsborg asked an agent in the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation about a search of his cell phone, according to the Associated Press. The agency had recused itself from the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest, since the Attorney General’s office oversees the Division.
Ravnsborg’s attorneys argued that his actions were not serious enough to warrant removal from office.
“The Senate should not be reduced to a traffic court,” defense attorney Michael Butler said, according to CNN.