PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has called on Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg to resign, citing the misdemeanor charges revealed last week stemming from his autumn car crash that left a man dead.
"Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign," Noem said in a statement issued through her spokesman just before noon Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Noem, a Republican, said she had "reviewed" details of the crash investigation of the Republican AG and encouraged the public to review the documents, as well. She said some details may be released "starting today."
Ravnsborg is facing three misdemeanor charges in Hyde County related to careless driving, use of a cellphone, and using an illegal lane. Each carries a potential penalty of $500 and/or 30 days in county jail.
Joseph Boever, 55, of Highmore, S.D., was killed in the crash.
The attorney general was not using his cellphone at the time of the crash and, in a news conference last week, Beadle County State's Attorney Mike Moore said investigators are still unsure why Ravnsborg was "distracted" Sept. 12 when he drove his Ford Taurus onto the highway's shoulder and struck Boever, whose truck had stranded west of Highmore.
Ravnsborg initially told a 911 dispatcher he was uncertain what he'd struck. The dispatcher suggested he might have collided with a deer, and Ravnsborg concurred with that theory.
Investigation details, including cellphone data, show that Ravnsborg and Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek walked near the body of Boever while inspecting the ditch following the crash, presumably looking for the animal the attorney general said he struck.
Rumors in Pierre first surfaced over the weekend that Ravnsborg may face an impeachment effort in the South Dakota House of Representatives. In an interview with Dakota News Now on Monday, Rep. Tim Goodwin, one of the handful of majority whips and a Rapid City Republican, called on Ravnsborg to resign in an interview.
It's not immediately clear who would replace Ravnsborg. In a phone call with Forum News Service on Tuesday, former AG Marty Jackley declined an interview request, saying, "Now is not the time for me to say anything."
Mike Deaver, a spokesman for Ravnsborg, did not immediately return a request for comment on Noem's call for resignation, though he has within the past few days shot down such calls, noting that the attorney general is a constitutional officer who was elected by South Dakota voters in 2018.
In an email Friday, Feb. 19, Deaver characterized the charges against Ravnsborg as "in essence traffic citations" and said "he intends to stay on the job."