(Reuters) – South Dakota lawmakers on Tuesday are expected to decide whether to impeach the state’s attorney general, who struck and killed a pedestrian as he drove home from a Republican party event in 2020.
The state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives will decide if the conduct of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg involved impeachable offenses during and after the incident that claimed the life of Joseph Boever, 55.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, also Republican, had demanded that Ravnsborg step down after the crash.
In two letters to lawmakers ahead of Tuesday’s proceedings, Ravnsborg apologized for the incident and said impeachment would set a “dangerous precedent.”
He said his office had multiple ongoing investigations looking into Noem’s activities, claiming she had “politically weaponized” the incident.
The House needs a simple majority of 36 representatives to impeach Ravnsborg. If the House impeaches, then Ravnsborg must temporarily step aside and the Senate must wait at least 20 days before conducting a trial. The 35-member Republican-led Senate would need 24 votes to remove him from office.
On Sept. 12, 2020, Ravnsborg was driving home from a fundraiser when he hit and killed Boever, who was walking along a highway in Highmore, South Dakota, about 50 miles east of Pierre.
Ravnsborg told police he believed he had run into a deer rather than a person, until he returned to the scene the following day to find the body of the victim lying in a roadside ditch.
Toxicology tests released by state authorities showed no evidence of impairment.
In August, Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges involving illegal lane change and using a phone while driving. Ravnsborg faced jail time for each charge, but the judge overseeing the case ordered him to pay $1,000 and perform public service for five years.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Bernadette Baum)