Representative Tim Goodwin (R-30/Rapid City) is one of the legislators on in House State Affairs who will hear testimony this morning on House Bill 1232, a proposal to raise the pay of our Attorney General and other constitutional officers.
If three misdemeanor charges for killing a man don’t inhibit Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from showing up to testify in favor of a fatter paycheck (and hey, this is the guy who [a] claimed he could be an effective attorney general without having ever prosecuted a criminal case in front of a jury, and [b] drove distracted, struck and killed a man on the highway shoulder, lied in his 911 call, and has since told the press he didn’t commit any crime, so such a shameless pitch would not be out of character), perhaps Representative Goodwin will seize the opportunity to ask Ravnsborg to resign before the pay raise would take effect. In his latest email to constituents, Goodwin is recommending Ravnsborg step down. And in the cautious language required of members of the one-party monolith, Goodwin prefaces his recommendation with a neutral mention of the I-word:
In the Legislature, we could, in the House of Representatives, adopt articles of impeachment just like a criminal charge and then in this case the Senate would hold a trial and could convict. Articles of impeachment need a simple majority vote in the House (36 votes) and conviction would need a 2/3rds vote of 24 votes in the Senate.
So, what’s best for the citizens of South Dakota? My recommendation is that our Attorney General needs to do the honorable thing and resign his post. He needs to do it immediately so we as a state can move forward. Once Jason Ravnsborg has resigned his position, our Governor can appoint a new Attorney General [Rep. Tim Goodwin, message to constituents, submitted to DFP, 2021.02.21].
The GOP leadership confirms to that Sioux Falls paper that Goodwin is not alone in breaching the topic of impeaching Ravnsborg, although Speaker Spencer Gosch told KELO-TV last night that “no conversations have been had.” If legislators can work up the courage to hold Ravnsborg accountable, they would be carrying out the first impeachment of a South Dakota official.
Under Article 16 Section 3 of the South Dakota Constitution, grounds for impeachment include “drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office.” As with federal impeachment, South Dakota’s impeachment process removes an official from office and disqualifies that individual from holding any public office again. Impeachment would have no effect on Ravnsborg’s criminal and civil liability.