I find some absurdity in Representative Kevin Jensen’s (R-16/Canton) excuse for his House Select Committee on Investigation’s difficulty in getting its impeachment engine cranking:
And at one point, perhaps flummoxed by the open-ended timeline, Rep. Kevin Jensen, R-Canton, asked how long a response time should hypothetical subpoenas contain.
“This is way beyond the scope of anything we’ve done,” said Jensen, who added he was just “trying to figure out how to get things done in a timely manner” [Christopher Vondracek, “Committee to Investigate Impeaching SD’s Attorney General Stalls, 2 Weeks After First Meeting,” Mitchell Republic, 2021.11.25].
That the predictably doltish and self-absorbed Jensen would have difficulty dealing with the scope of carrying out clear constitutional duties against a fellow Republican should not surprise us. But how does impeachment surpass in scope anything else the Legislature does on a regular basis? Jensen chairs House Health and Human Services, which just this year dealt with complicated issues like health care price transparency, primary care agreements, and regulation of chiropractors—does Chairman Jensen just sleep through those substantive bills while he waits for the next anti-abortion, anti-trans, or anti-vax bill to come up on his agenda?
And nothing the Legislature does exceeds the scope of the state budget, on which appropriators spend months of interim study and the entire two-month Session to properly allocate over five billion dollars to every function of state government.
Impeachment is a solemn matter, but it’s not that complicated. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg broke the law and killed a man. Immediately after the crash, in his 911 call, he invoked his official title in an apparent attempt to influence the response to his crime. He has declined to take responsibility for his recklessness, as indicated by his sniveling denials, his blaming the victim and the wind, and his continued lawbreaking on the roads. Through his reckless and sniveling behavior, not to mention through the manslaughter that his law school classmate/prosecutor chose not to prosecute, he has lost the confidence of law enforcement and the Governor.
The question before you, Representative Jensen and members of the House Select Committee on Investigation, is thus clear: has Jason Ravnsborg engaged in crimes, corrupt conduct, and/or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office that disqualify him from carrying out the duties of Attorney General? You have the crime scene investigation file; you have Ravnsborg’s own words and actions since his crime well-documented in the press. Call witnesses, study the record, and cast your vote: does South Dakota need a new attorney general or not?
If you find that question beyond your scope, Kevin, feel free to share with us the investigation file. Many of us citizens are more than ready to help analyze the evidence and inform the Legislature’s decision.