Politics South Dakota AG Jason Ravensburg convicted in impeachment trial,...

South Dakota AG Jason Ravensburg convicted in impeachment trial, acquitted after fatal 2020 car accident

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PIERE, SD – The South Dakota Senate convicted Attorney General Jason Ravensborg in an impeachment hearing Tuesday of nearly two years ago for fatally assaulting a pedestrian with his car.

The vote to convict Ravensborg, which led to his immediate removal from office, came in September 2020 after the closing of testimony, questioning and arguments for his role in Joe Bower’s death.

Immediately after the crash, Ravensborg told the 911 dispatcher that he was not sure what had hit his vehicle, believing it was a deer. It wasn’t until the next morning that Ravensburg said he returned and found Bower’s body.

The group of legislators needed a two-thirds majority or more votes for each of the two separate impeachment articles, including the deaths and misconduct in the office passed by the South Dakota House of Representatives earlier this year.

‘Unforgivable’:South Dakota AG Jason Ravensborg avoids jail time for fatal accident, angers victim’s family

The Senate voted 24-9 out of 35 on the first article of the impeachment for the crimes that caused the death and to remove Ravensborg. The Senate voted 31-2 on the second article, alleging misconduct in the office, alleging it misled investigators.

The Senate also voted to permanently disqualify Republican Ravensborg from “holding any trust or for-profit office” in South Dakota.

Ravensborg has been suspended from its duties since those articles passed in April. The AG’s meeting is for elections in November.

The deceased Joe Bower's widow, Jenny Bower, smiles and cries together after a Senate vote to convict Attorney General Jason Ravensborg on both articles of impeachment on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre.

The first impeachment trial in South Dakota Senate history closed nearly two years of uncertainty surrounding the attorney general’s office and around Ravensburg, which was in its first term at the time of the crash.

Was Ravnsborg Was traveling from political work in Redfield to his pier’s home. While passing through Hyde County, Ravensborg’s vehicle collided with a Beaver, 55, which police determined was driving on the side of the roadway.

With Ravensborg in charge of the South Dakota Division of the Criminal Investigation, which typically investigates matters involving public officials and law enforcement, Highway Patrol brought in investigators from outside the state to investigate the crash.

Joe Bower

They determined that Ravensburg was using his phone during his drive that evening, but not at the time of the crash. However, contrary to what Ravensborg reported on the night of the crash and subsequent statements, his vehicle was off the road at the time of the impact.

Police believe Ravensburg was distracted at the time of the crash but have never determined what it was. Ravensburg did not elaborate on why his vehicle was off the road.

Read the criminal complaint:More on the case against South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravensburg

Timeline:Attorney General Jason Ravensburg’s journey from the night of the fatal accident to the impeachment

Ravnsborg was convicted in August 2021 of a felony traffic violation – a lane violation and use of an electronic device while driving. Neither of the charges for Bower’s death amounts to a criminal charge.

The South Dakota House of Representatives began its own investigation into Ravensburg’s behavior in November 2021. In March, the House Select Committee on Investigation recommended that the Attorney General not pursue impeachment.

But 36 of the 70 members of the House of Representatives disagreed, and instead voted to impeach Ravensborg on April 12, saying he was guilty of crimes arising from the crash, that he was not truthful with law enforcement after Bowers. Death and he abused his position as Attorney General.

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