But enough about Jason’s poorly-aged comments and need to diet—here’s some deadly serious news.
Governor Kristi Noem announced today that the Department of Public Safety released to Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham) the complete investigation file on the September 12, 2020, car crash in which distracted driver Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg killed pedestrian Joseph Boever.
As a quick side note, I contend the release of this investigation file to a citizen not employed in law enforcement makes this file a public record. Quick, someone call DPS and Speaker Gosch and make a formal open records request so we all can read along!
Governor Noem has not published the entire investigation file, but she has published the cover letter DPS Secretary Craig Price sent to Speaker Gosch and cc’ed to A.G. Ravnsborg. In this letter, Secretary Price says Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter:
In my opinion as a 24-year law enforcement officer, and in the opinion of the higly trained highway patrol officers involved in this investigation, Mr. Ravnsborg should have been charged with 2nd Degree Manslaughter. The prosecution team was well aware of that position. The South Dakota Highway Patrol stood ready and willing to provide expert testimony regarding the crash and the facts of this investigation at trial, a position that was also made clear to the prosecutor [Secretary of Public Safety Craig Price, letter to Speaker Spencer Gosch, 2021.09.01].
Secretary Price also says Ravnsborg mischaracterized the conclusions of the investigators and “disparaged the work and reputation of the law enforcement agencies” who investigated him:
The investigators’ conclusions as to the events of that evening, which were based on the evidence contained in the materials I am providing to you, were challenged publicly by Mr. Ravnsborg prior to entering into his plea agreement. In doing so, Mr. Ravnsborg, while still serving publicly as the attorney general, made a number of assertions that disparaged the work and reputation of the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation. On behalf of all the law enforcement personnel involved in this investigation, I categorically reject Mr. Ravnsborg’s characterizations [Price to Gosch, 2021.09.01].
I get the impression that when Secretary Price says “assertions,” he really means “lies.”
Ravnsborg has been convicted of crimes—not manslaughter, merely traffic violations—that Speaker Gosch felt sufficient to justify the original articles of impeachment proposed on February 23 but later suspended. But those February articles of impeachment also cited “actions unbecoming the Attorney General” following his killing of Boever. The phrasing of the disparagement accusation seems tuned specifically toward the latter basis for impeachment. Disparaging the work and reputation of law enforcement agencies “while still serving publicly as the attorney general” could easily be translated as “conduct unbecoming the Attorney General” or, to use a phrase in the state constitution’s language authorizing impeachment (Article 16 Section 3), “malfeasance in office”.
But the big impeachment push is Secretary Price’s statement about manslaughter.
A 24-year South Dakota cop says Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter. That veteran cop, now Secretary of Public Safety, says the evidence supported that charge and his officers were ready to go to court and say so. That veteran cop turned Secretary of Public Safety says the prosecutors knew of his assessment of the evidence and knew of his officers’ readiness to testify. Yet those prosecutors, who were led by Jason Ravnsborg’s law school classmate Emily Sovell, rejected that position, went on the record denying that the evidence supported a manslaughter charge, and instead charged killer Jason Ravnsborg with three traffic misdemeanors.
Secretary Price is saying that the prosecutors did not seek justice for Joseph Boever’s death. Secretary Price is saying Ravnsborg still has an enormous debt to pay. Secretary Price is telling Speaker Gosch that it is up to the Legislature to get Ravnsborg to pay some of that debt by impeaching him and removing him from the Attorney General’s office.