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Impeachment Committee Can’t Proceed Until Speaker Gosch Picks Special Counsel

The impeachment of killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is off to a slow start, as a committee that includes four lawyers met just long enough Wednesday to say, Uh oh—we need a lawyer to figure out impeachment:

A special investigative committee on impeachment in the South Dakota House of Representatives for the first time Wednesday convened to begin the process of probing actions of Ravnsborg related to a 2020 crash that killed a pedestrian.

But the 9-member committee quickly adjourned after being told by legislative staff that it would need to retain legal counsel for guidance on process particulars like what constitutes impeachable offenses for sitting office holders and a timeline for sending a formal recommendation on impeachment back for consideration by the entire House [Joe Sneve, “No Timeline on Attorney General Ravnsborg Impeachment Meetings, House Speaker Needs to Choose Legal Counsel,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2021.11.10].

2021i House Resolution 7001, the resolution authorizing the investigation of Ravnbsorg, does direct the House Select Committee on Investigation to “employ a special counsel, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives pursuant to § 2-5-5, to serve as legal counsel to the committee and to assist the committee in carrying out its functions expressed and implied herein.” And I suppose with the 2022 Session coming up, the select committee might not want to simply draft Justin Goetz or any of the other Legislative Research Council lawyers who have all the Constitutional and statutory knowledge Speaker Spencer Gosch says he’s looking for but who are going to be busy writing and reviewing hundreds of draft bills for eager legislators for the next three months. But after raising the prospect of impeachment in February,  and after filing the official Special Session proclamation on September 30, Legislative leaders couldn’t work up a short list of lawyers to call for this position and have in the chute for their first meeting in November? They couldn’t even get their own four lawyer-members, whom Speaker Gosch publicly named as committee members a full week before the House formally commissioned them, to prepare some legal analysis for their first meeting?

As I said Tuesday, the Legislature should not act with undue haste in carrying out this first-in-South Dakota impeachment. Cautious deliberation will ensure the Legislature sets correct precedents for this momentous procedure. But the Legislature’s lack of planning and lawyerly courage is unnecessarily delaying progress toward the ultimate correct precedent, the removal of an Attorney General who has lost the confidence of the public by breaking the law and killing a man.

12 Comments

  1. ArloBlundt 2021-11-12

    Well…Indeed…who knows what the 1889 Legislature was thinking when they adopted the Constitution with this vague impeachment clause….If you are going to apply “originalist” thinking, which the Republicans love to apply to the federal Constitution, its pretty open and shut against the AG though due process may get trampled in the haste to bid him farewell.

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-11-12

    Well you know, I checked at something called Dakota War College and apparently they want to give Ravnsborg an award. I would have commented but I didn’t want to upset the sweet boys. Plus I want to save my banishment for a better cause but shouldn’t they be called Dakota Defense College or something less hysterical?

  3. mike from iowa 2021-11-12

    Kurtz covered the Power’s blog name a while back.

  4. larry kurtz 2021-11-12

    Actually, Dave Newquist’s name for Powers’ thing, Dakota Wart Collage, is my favorite.

  5. buckobear 2021-11-13

    The rebublicans just want this to go away …… maybe encourage jason to take a walk on a highway shoulder?

  6. ArloBlundt 2021-11-14

    Well…I’m not sure there is a lawyer who considers himself an expert on the original thinking which brought about the impeachment clause in the 1889-1890 state constitution…Bill Srska? Mark Meirhenry was a student of South Dakota history but has recently departed. Retired Professor Alton Lee has written much about the early era of the territorial to statehood transition. You might get some idea of what the founders were thinking by reading the early territorial histories by Armstrong and Kingsberry. Both authors were present at the creation and both include a lot of anecdote in their histories. “The Empire Builders” has page after page of inside stories about the schemes and conspiracies that created our state.Doc Farber would love to help out but is otherwise occupied.

  7. mike from iowa 2021-11-14

    Whatever the founders intended for impeachment back then, it does not apply to today’s iteration of magat scum politicians.

  8. mike from iowa 2021-11-14

    Noem Nothing officially announced her intentions to ruin South Dakota for four more years, yesterday on Forbes Breaking Noize.

  9. ArloBlundt 2021-11-14

    mike from Iowa….the reason it is important to know why the impeachment clause is so vague and the originalist thinking of the founding fathers of our state are two fold: One–the state constitution including the impeachment clause has not been rewritten or readopted by a constitutional convention since 1890–to my knowledge the impeachment clause has never been amended…its the original 1890 clause in the constitution. Two– The Republicans get all hung up about what the founding fathers of the United States intended with various clauses in the US Constitution…they refer to the federalist papers and the original discussions in the Constitutional Convention when discussing issues of today….there are no federalist papers for the South Dakota Constitution and, given the pioneer times, I doubt if there is much specific in the minutes of the State Constitutional Convention if those minutes even exist. I think the Republicans have to accept the clause as it is and proceed with impeaching Ravensberg though the rules for impeachment in the Constitution of the state are very vague. For example: does Ravensberg get to cross examine witnesses or call his own witnesses???

  10. ArloBlundt 2021-11-14

    Well…basically the issue is that when it comes to Impeaching Ravensberg, the Republicans “will make up the rules as they go along”, to my mind, a dangerous precedent.

  11. larry kurtz 2021-11-14

    So, according to a piece behind a paywall at the state’s largest newspaper the redistricting drama was a ruse to distract voters from the rabid dysfunction within the fractured South Dakota Republican Party and even compromised with Democrats to shut them up. Little wonder Lee Schoenbeck runs everything in Pierre.

  12. larry kurtz 2021-11-21

    Gosch retweets Candace Owens, sleeps with a Trumpy Bear and wears a MAGA hat. Ravnsborg was surfing an anti-Biden website when he killed Joe Boever. These guys.

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