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South Dakota House has signatures to proceed with impeachment special session

Ravnsborg will officially face debate about whether or not he should be removed from office during a special session in November.
Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 5:00 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota House of Representatives has received more than the necessary 47 signatures to proceed with a special session to debate the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

The State Senate got the votes necessary to proceed with the trial earlier this week.

All that remains is for President Pro Tempore of the Senate Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) and Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) to sign a proclamation making the matter official.

“We will try to keep the public informed as we move through this process,” Gosch said. “(But) we intend to gavel into a special session on this matter November 9th.”

The proclamation of a special session, set to immediately follow a special session for redistricting on November 8th, will allow state lawmakers to debate whether or not they should impeach Ravnsborg without throwing off the regularly scheduled legislative session, set to begin next January.

Gosch will select nine members of the House, including himself, to head up a select committee to review evidence, and ultimately decide whether or not they should vote to send impeachment to the full House.

“There will be two Democrats on a nine member committee.” Gosch explained. “I will be the 9th member of the committee, but would only vote in the event of a tie.”

The other set members of that committee will be State Rep. Kent Peterson (R-Salem), Rep. Ryan Cwach (D-Yankton), and Rep. Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls).

“The public expects us to follow up on this,” said Smith. “This is a tragic case, there are a lot of questions that people have and it is our job to look into it and find out what really happened... Figure out whether our Attorney General should still be our Attorney General.”

Gosch says he intends to fill the remaining six spots with legislators who are former law enforcement officers, or attorneys.

As for the accident report released by the state’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) to Gosch, it is likely that portions of that will become public in due time.

“Much of the evidence used in the investigation will be used in the committee, and thus will also be made public,” Gosch said.

The hearings themselves will also be open to the public.

“The most important thing is we are fair, we are as transparent as we can be, and that we are open to the public,” Gosch said.

A spokesperson for Ravnsborg has yet to respond to a request for comment.

This is a developing story.