Press "Enter" to skip to content

House Convicts Ravnsborg; Opponents Remain Silent; Pay in Question During Suspension; Can Senate Convict?

By the narrowest possible majority, the South Dakota House of Representatives today impeached Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for crimes causing the death of Joseph Boever and for malfeasance in office following the death of Joseph Boever. The motion to adopt the two articles of impeachment in House Resolution 7002 required a simple majority vote; the final vote was 36 to 31, making Jason Ravnsborg the first South Dakota official ever impeached.

31 House Republicans voted against impeachment. Three more—Scott Odenbach, Taffy Howard, and Marli Wiese—chose not to vote. Only 28 Republicans voted to impeach. They were joined by all eight House Democrats, thus constituting a bare majority of 36 in favor of Jason Ravnsborg’s standing trial in the Senate.

None of the Representatives who voted against impeachment dared to enunciate their reasons in floor speeches today. Seven Representatives rose to speak in favor of impeachment. You can watch their speeches on the SDPB video:

  1. Rep. Will Mortenson (R-24/Pierre), who filed the articles of impeachment and explained the first article, Ravnsborg’s crimes.
  2. Rep. Ryan Cwach (D-18/Yankton), who explained the second article, Ravnsborg’s malfeasance in office, in terms similar to those he laid out in his April 1 public statement on why he voted to recommend impeachment in committee.
  3. Rep. Mary Fitzgerald (R-31/Spearfish), who said Ravnsborg’s actions “have affected the public’s trust in the justice system” and created the impression that those in power in South Dakota get special treatment. Sounding somewhat agitated, Fitzgerald said Ravnsborg had abused his power “countless times” and failed to support “the thin blue line.”
  4. Rep. Tim Goodwin (R-30/Sheridan Lake), who requested the Department of Public Safety’s briefing on the Ravnsborg investigation last week. Despite a largely rambling and occasionally illogial speech, Goodwin did fire off one clever response to Ravnsborg’s surprise last-ditch appeal to legislators last night. Ravnsborg claimed that he wished he would have had the opportunity to argue his criminal charges in front of a jury. Goodwin says impeachment will give Ravnsborg that opportunity to argue his case in front of a jury—in this case, a jury of 35 Senators.
  5. Rep. Nancy York (R-5/Watertown), who said she was casting her last vote as a member of the House on this sad day in support of impeachment to shine sunlight on Ravnsborg’s case.
  6. Rep. Oren Lesmeister (D-28A/Parade), who said, contrary to Ravnsborg’s claim inthat Joe Boever’s widow told him this morning that Ravnsborg has never apologized directly to her.
  7. Rep. Linda Duba (D-15/Sioux Falls), who said that Ravnsborg’s claim to “respect the process” rings hollow when he declined to testify under oath to the impeachment committee and instead surprised legislators with his hasty, error-filled eleventh-hour letter. Echoing my critique this morning, Duba said she found it “shocking” that Ravnsborg concluded his appeal with the statement that Joseph Boever “changed my life forever.” “You took Joe Boever’s life,” Duba responded. “That’s what we’re about today, and that’s what we need to think about when we push the button.”

Per Article 16 Section 5 of the South Dakota Constitution, Ravnsborg is suspended from exercising the duties of attorney general until and unless the Senate acquits him of both impeachment charges. As of early this afternoon, the Attorney General’s office said Ravnsborg had physically left the office. Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles McGuigan is taking over the Attorney General’s duties for now.

Article 16 Section 7 requires the Senate to wait at least 20 days before starting the trial, but Senate President Pro-Tempore Lee Schoenbeck says they may not get around to trying Ravnsborg until a couple days after the June 7 primary. A trial at that date would take place just two weeks before the Republican convention, at which Ravnsborg has been planning to seek renomination for Attorney General

Among the unknowns in this unprecedented legal ground is whether Jason Ravnsborg continues to collect his state paycheck while suspended and waiting for his Senate trial:

It remained unclear among legislative leaders last weekend whether Ravnsborg would receive pay during his suspension. His annual salary is $121,449.51. Chief deputy McGuigan’s annual salary is $146,540.97. Said Bormann, “I do not have an answer on that.  Charlie and I were discussing it as well and while Article XVI of the Constitution spells out the suspension, it is silent as to compensation” [Bob Mercer, “What’s Next in Ravnsborg Saga?” KELO-TV, 2022.04.12].

The South Dakota State Employee Handbook lists suspension without pay as one possible discipline for state employees. That handbook may not even apply to elected positions, but if state workers can be suspended without pay, one would think elected employees could, too. Right now Ravnsborg has zero duties for the state; he should get zero pay. At the very least, he should have to burn up any paid leave he has.

But whether we deny Ravnsborg his $12.1K a month while he waits for the Senate trial is perhaps a minor detail as we wait to see what final justice, if any, the Senate is willing to exact. The House only needed a simple majority to impeach; the Senate must muster a two-thirds vote, 24 members saying aye, to permanently remove Ravnsborg from office for breaking the law, killing a man, and lying about it.

The House barely reached the majority necessary to impeach; if a majority of Senate Republicans follow the majority of their House colleagues in defending Ravnsborg from accountability, the three Senate Democrats cannot provide enough votes, as their House counterparts did, to reach the threshold necessary to convict.

However, Senate Republicans differ in temperament from House Republicans. Where House Republicans this year have feuded with Governor Kristi Noem to the extent that some have been willing to cast impeachment more as a political attack by the Governor than as a grave constitutional process to check the crimes and malfeasance of the Attorney General, Senate Republicans have been less inclined to pick fights with the Governor. Senate Republicans may thus be more inclined to judge the impeachment trial on its merits, without getting tangled in any feud with the Second Floor. At the very least, reaching a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict Jason Ravnsborg may be as within reach as reaching a simple majority in the House today to impeach Jason Ravnsborg.

Stay tuned for more history.


  1. Mark Anderson 2022-04-12 20:48

    Republicans all drive like Ravnsborg, what do you expect? Just get out of their way.

  2. ABC 2022-04-12 21:15

    Betting on the Democrats is like betting on a 3 legged horse.

    The trial will happen in June. Repubicans will not convict him. He goes back to his job.
    The convention nominates Jackley. Ravnsborgg leaves office January 1.

    The 3 legged horse Democrats won’t win, much as we want Jamie Smith to win!

    Do we have the COURAGE to create something new, 120 Candidates who are ALWAYS ready to run, a nonprofit Super Group that has elections every week, (Yes, we get elected every Monday, 52 times a year, because we can!)

    Do we have the COURAGE to do HUGE PROJECTS that State and Federal Government NEVER do or attempt, that will change everyone’s life, MUCH higher wages, a better environment, equal justice for all always and MORE?

    We can hope the 3 legged horse wins, or

    We can BE and CREATE the Change we want to see.

  3. ABC 2022-04-12 21:17

    Ravnsborg gets $121,000 a year salary.

    Can we create NonGovernmental jobs that pay $121 000 or $122 000 a year?

    Yes! We can!

    or believe in the “NO” and live in the static past.

  4. Kurt Evans 2022-04-12 21:32

    I believe Jason is probably innocent of more than 99 percent of the evil of which he’s been accused, but regardless of whether he were 100 percent guilty, Governor Noem has deliberately and repeatedly violated the foundational American principle of the separation of powers by abusing the extravagant taxpayer-financed resources of the executive branch of government to disrupt the proceedings of the judicial and legislative branches.

    I’d always assumed that Governor Noem genuinely shared my traditional Christian belief that the Bible is true, including Genesis 1-3 and First Corinthians 12-14, and I’d wanted very much for her to succeed. As such, I’m profoundly disappointed and personally embarrassed by her behavior.

    Jason’s phone had been locked east of Highmore, and he wasn’t using it at the time of the crash. He looked down at the speedometer, and Joe dove onto the hood in the driving lane to commit suicide.

    Kristi Noem should resign, and Craig Price should go to prison.

  5. Nick Nemec 2022-04-12 21:50

    Like a broken record Kurt Evans repeats the same tired line over and over, and every time he repeats the line it is proved false again.

  6. grudznick 2022-04-12 23:33

    Mr. Evans, you are obviously suffering deep cortex distortion from the 5 Gees. Pseudoscience places a greater than 99% probability that statement is true.

  7. Bill McClellan 2022-04-12 23:38

    I’m sure I’m not the only person that wonders how this Kurt Evans feller can live with himself. What a reprehensible thing to say about Joe Boever.

  8. Dicta 2022-04-13 07:40

    The new tact Ravnsborg’s supporters seem to have taken is no longer “he did nothing wrong,” but rather “but Kristi bad, and Jason get Kristi!” and it is detestably transparent. Its happening here, the DWC and on reddit and it’s gross. We can hold both Noem and Ravnsborg accountable. It isn’t one or the other.

  9. Ryan 2022-04-13 09:24

    don’t worry everyone, kurt is just bitter because he knows the bible is nonsense and he has to die and be dead forever in nothingness like the rest of us. sorry kurt, but at least you’ll deserve it.

  10. buckobear 2022-04-13 10:29

    Funny, the Chief Deputy’s salary is approximately $25K more than his boss ……..?

  11. Ryan 2022-04-13 10:45

    noticed that, too buckobear. i wondered if it was a typo or if AG has better benes that aren’t obvious….

  12. ABC 2022-04-13 11:00

    How hard is it for a Party to get 105 candidates to run every election? Or 8 or 9 for state offices? The Libertarians and Democrats don’t run 114. That’s part of the reason.

    Only the Republicans play this game seriously, and run close to 105 in the Legislature.

    CAn you play baseball with a team of 4 or 5 against 9 players?

    Just get names on the ballot, give the voters a choice. They don’t have to r
    “Run” legally.

    I’m guessing all Attorney Generals since 1889 have been White.

    What does it say to the Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, immigrants and African Americans when
    The Independents , Democrats and Libertarians all not elect people of color into $121 000 a year jobs such as the AG, plus they Do Not Create 121 000 jobs too! They see all other parties failing, and Republicans electing white people to these high paying jobs. These minorities could say, hey , you are not creating high paying jobs for us, too!

    Most of you will not like what I say——Why can’t you create $60 an hour jobs for people of all colors, throughout the state?

    If the hobby is losing elections constantly and then complaining for 2 years, let’s try a different approach.

    Let’s put ourselves in the Business of creating $60 an hour jobs, and then, over time, our success in doing that will allow more Progressives and center left people to get elected.

  13. Ryan 2022-04-13 11:06

    ABC – great idea. what $60 an hour jobs would you like to create, and how? Also, have you run or are you running for office?

  14. Richard Schriever 2022-04-13 12:35

    Ryan, one wonders if Mr. Alphabet has a $60/hr. job. I don’t, but with my consistent overtime, if my job were year-round, vs. 6 months a year, I would hit the $120k/yr. mark easily. Most of my work involves performing my services on government funded projects, so I can attest that “we” do indeed create those jobs. Quite a few of them in fact. BTW – I am low man on the pay totem pole at my place of employment. I do also quite enjoy my 6 months a year off. I have run for office 4 times and lost – by margins consistent with the number of registered Rs vs. Ds in the localtions I have been a candidate. No amount of effort and work, nor lack thereof on my part has made any difference in that vote distribution.

  15. dc 2022-04-13 13:05

    You know what stands out to me, the Pubs all voted without regard of the person, for AG, Jason R, and ignored a man like Randy Seiler for AG, shows once again how they pick their candidates, nothing to with credentials, just the R on ticket!!

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-13 13:56

    Buckobear, Ryan, I believe that discrepancy, the Chief Deputy AG getting paid more than the AG, results from the fact that salaries for the top elected officers in state government are set by statute, while the state can offer more competitive wages to their underlings.

    Recall 2021 House Bill 1232, in which our Legislature sought to set base annual salaries for our constitutional officers and thus raise their pay. The Legislature passed that bill with a sunrise clause, delaying enactment until July 1, 2023.

    It does seem odd that the boss doesn’t make as much as the bossed.

  17. Ryan 2022-04-13 14:15

    Cory, i have found that the higher the wage, the easier the work anyway – so the bossed making more than the boss is some sort of economic karma, probably.

  18. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-13 18:11

    Yes, Cory, by the narrowest of margins Ravnsborg will stand before the Senate in an impeachment trial…the pro-impeachment vote was 28 Republicans (a distinct minority of the House GOP) with eight Democrats icing the decision…more Republicans voted to allow Ravnsborgh to walk. A black day for Republicans either way the vote went but certainly symtomatic of the turmoil and anarchy of the Party. This isn’t the Party I remember as a young man, when the County Chairs were bankers, car dealers and wealthy cattle buyers. Now we have crypto conspiracy advocates, bit coin nut cases, and out of state Trumpist refugees. The Party is unrecognizable as a functioning political organization. There is nothing organized about the Republican Party and back in the day it was a political steamroller. Good Riddance.

  19. Bob Newland 2022-04-13 18:37

    I am happy to see that the hapless Charlie McGuigan, buttboy to the stars, makes more than the simpering butthead Jason Ravnsborg. He’s been at it for decades, so he should make more money for bringing information to legislative committees making it easier for them to make bad decisions.

    I shall always remember the time McGuigan told a committee, “Marijuana contains more than 400 Carciginians.” I assumed then, and have had no adverse evidence presented, that he referred to residents of Carcige, although I have not been able to place Carcige geographically.

  20. grudznick 2022-04-13 19:16

    Good blue link, Mr. mike, especially for a fellow from Iowa. Your mania serves up a use every once in a while. grudznick enjoyed the read.

    Young Mr. McGuigan, a shining beacon of fashion and style next to Mr. Ravnsborg’s gauche ineptness, has indeed defended us from the demon weed for years.

Comments are closed.