Yesterday, I expressed the hope that killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg might spare his fellow Republicans the trouble of voting on South Dakota’s first impeachment by finally announcing his resignation.
Instead, around 10 p.m. last night, about eleven hours before the South Dakota House of Representatives convenes to consider his impeachment, Ravnsborg issued a four-page letter and a three-page rebuttal (tweeted in full last night by KSFY’s Austin Goss) arguing that the House should not impeach him because all he did was have a traffic accident, and because he’s on a mission from God to investigate Kristi Noem, whom he says has broken the law and is trying to “undermine, criticize and usurp the powers and privileges of the House”:
Of course, even as he is fighting for his political survival, Ravnsborg’s lawyerly incompetence shines through in multiple errors—not debatable arguments or statements of fact, but flat-out mistakes. Some errors are mere typos, but when you’re writing the most important political argument of your life, you start writing well before 10 p.m. and you eliminate every error:
- Ravnsborg says that Article Five of the United States Constitution says he is innocent until proven guilty [p. 1, para. 3]. Article Five is his radical right-winger friends’ favorite article, the one they want to use to convene a Convention of the States to rewrite the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment provides the presumption of innocence and due process of law.
- Ravnsborg fails to proofread, saying “I remained quite to let the legal process play out” [p. 1, para. 6].
- Ravnsborg misuses a semicolon, separating phrases in a list that should be separated by commas: “to let the legal process play out; to let the facts stand on their own, and to not color any public sentiment” [p. 1 para. 6].
- Ravnsborg leaves a curious and telling strike-out: “Cell phone usage was ruled
is not right butunrelated to the accident and not the basis for impeachment” [p. 3, para. 4]. Ravnsborg apparently recognized he shouldn’t mention his moral culpability in any way but then forgot to hit “Accept Change” in his MS Word document and then forgot to check the printed copy to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything.
- Ravnsborg makes three errors in one sentence: “…future impeachment proceeding will to the standard you established here” [p. 4, para. 0].
- Ravnsborg can’t use apostrophes correctly: “I respectfully ask that you adopt the House Investigation Committees’ majority report…” [p. 4, para 5]. Apostrophe after the s indicates there it more than one committee. There is not.
Ravnsborg pays about as much attention to writing correctly as he does to driving. If he drafts his arguments this poorly to save his own political skin, imagine how little care he puts into drafting court arguments for the state and other clients.
Beyond the bonehead errors, Ravnsborg’s letter is filled with misrepresentations and faulty arguments:
- Ravnsborg claims he ran for Attorney General in 2018 “because our state had scandals such as EB-5 and GEARUP handled without proper oversight” [p. 2, para. 1]. Baloney. EB-5 and GEAR UP never figured prominently in Ravnsborg’s campaigns. In 2014, when EB-5 was exploding in the news and when Ravnsborg was running for U.S. Senate, Ravnsborg occasionally talked about EB-5, but he refused to run an ad challenging frontrunner Mike Rounds for his handling of EB-5 when he was Governor. In his four-year campaign to win the 2018 nomination, Ravnsborg toured the state talking about ISIS, Sharia law, and ballot questions, not EB-5 or GEAR UP or other examples of in-state corruption. In 2018, Democratic candidate Randy Seiler talked about the need to tackle the corruption revealed in EB-5 and GEAR UP while Ravnsborg, who sounded to journalists like he wasn’t prepared for a question on transparency, talked about more openness from the South Dakota Bar Association. And I challenge any reader to point to any initiative Ravnsborg has pushed in office to reveal any further information about EB-5 or GEAR UP or to root out other possible corruption in state government.
- Ravnsborg claims boldly that Noem has violated his civil rights and privacy rights [p. 2, para. 5]. This claim has no legal basis. Ravnsborg committed crimes. The information Noem has released about the investigation of those crimes is public record. Her calls for his resignation and his impeachment are protected political expression. The Governor hasn’t violated Ravnsborg’s rights any more than I have with my extensive blogging on the facts of his case and my advocacy for his removal from office.
- Ravnsborg claims, “Since I refused to resign, the Governor sought to undermine, criticize and usurp the powers and privileges of the House” [p .2, para. 8]. Criticizing the Legislature is the right of every citizen, including the Governor, a right to be exercised enthusiastically to ensure good government. Advocating impeachment of a law-breaking killer does not undermine or usurp any Legislative authority; quite to the contrary, such advocacy calls on the Legislature to use its authority properly, in faith to its oath to uphold the South Dakota Constitution.
- Ravnsborg says his distracted driving should not count as an impeachable crime, “because who among you has never used their cell phone while driving?” [p. 3, para. 3…and count that use of their instead of your as another grammatical error]. Ravnsborg should know as well as any other lawyer that the fact that other people have committed a crime does not serve as a legal basis for acquitting a defendant of a crime.
- Ravnsborg argues that “The Constitution explicitly says ‘crimes,’…not crimes that are impossible to bring…” [p. 3, para. 5]. Ravnsborg cuts the card too quickly, omitting that Article 16 Section 3 of the South Dakota Constitution also says grounds for impeachment include “drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office.”
- Ravnsborg continues to cast doubt on whether he was driving outside of his lane—”if you even believe it occurred” [p. 3, para. 6]. He challenges the Highway Patrol’s conclusion that all four of his tires were north of the fog line as a mere “theory” [rebuttal document, p. 2, para. 6]. Yet Ravnsborg pled no contest and was thus convicted of making an illegal lane change. All available evidence indicates that Ravnsborg was driving completely on the shoulder at 68 miles per hour when he hit and killed Joe Boever. That crime occurred; there is no reason to believe it didn’t.
Ravnsborg is notably playing the corruption card, claiming that his office “has multiple ongoing investigations into the Governor’s alleged activities and people associated with her” [p. 2, para. 3]. He declines to specify what and which associates he is investigating, claiming that he is respecting Noem’s right to due process in a way she has not respected his. That accusation should nonetheless make the news, and regardless of today’s vote, we should expect the Attorney General someday soon to release all the information he has about corruption in the Executive Branch.
But any claim to moral high ground should disappear in what may be viewed as the most selfish, tone-deaf statement of Ravnsborg’s letter:
Every day I think about Joe Boever, a man I had never met, who changed my life forever [Jason Ravnsborg, letter to legislators, 2022.04.11, p. 4, para. 3].
Joe Boever did not change your life, Jason. You ended his life. Joe Boever did not act upon you; you acted upon him. You, through your recklessness, killed him. Any changes to your life that have resulted from your action are minuscule compared to the fact that you took his life from him.
Members of the House, don’t let Jason Ravnsborg’s hasty, sloppy, last-ditch legalisms and allegations of corruption distract you from the primary facts of this case. Jason Ravnsborg broke the law, killed a man, and lied about it. Jason Ravnsborg has lost the confidence of law enforcement and nearly everyone else in South Dakota. He cannot perform the duties of Attorney General, and he does not deserve to hold that office. Impeach him.
Jase-O makes one accurate statement: “…the incident did not impede my ability to perform the functions of Attorney General.”
The truth of that statement, however, is a pretty convincing argument to remove him.
This isn’t too difficult to contemplate, is it? Cory, you have summed it up well. Your reporting has been invaluable as the public tried to wade through the many details of this investigation and the awful, tragic incident that has led to this decision by the legislature. But really, it boils down to this: Ravnsborg broke the law and killed a man. If he hadn’t broke the law, he probably would not have killed a man. It is clear he lied about some aspects of the incident. Also, his supporters and legal team’s efforts to smear the victim were reprehensible. I cannot imagine those efforts were pursued without the permission of Ravnsborg. I don’t care whether or not the governor’s attempts to sway decision-making are ethical or legal or whatever. That’s a different matter. It’s pathetic that Ravnsborg now attempts to inject that matter as a reason to reject impeachment.
Which part of patriotic Boy Scout escapes legislators? Ravnsborg is a member of a cult that believes its practitioners can turn wine and bread into the blood and body of a long-dead preacher.
I remained quite? Spell check not working fort you, killer?
How is it Ravnsborg didn’t mention being armed to the teeth and calling Noem gay to hit magat campaign tri-fecta, gays, guns and dog?
This political theatre is beginning to remind me about a line from the OJ trial: it was said then that the LA cops were so incompetent that they couldn’t even frame a guilty man for murder. I’m starting to see the same criticism for the SD GOP.
what a moron.
first line of the letter – he gets the friggin date he killed Joe wrong.
Governor Noem sounds a lot like me in her Twitter response to Ravnsborg’s last-minute blast, a letter she calls “bizarre”:
Gov. Noem gets a lot right in four short tweets. She knows political distraction when she sees it, and here, she properly calls it out. Ravnsborg killed a man, lied about, and abused his office to avoid consequences. Ravnsborg’s letter is not only bizarre; it is an attempt to throw new arguments onto the flow at the last minute, before any of his claims can get rigorous review in the press, and before most constituents will have a chance to read and process them and provide their feedback to their legislators. Ravnsborg could have accepted the committee’s request (remember, they were polite enough not to subpoena him) to testify, and he could have made all of these arguments at the committee hearings. But if he had done that, legislators could have asked him questions on camera, for the record. Legislators would have had time to request more documents and call more witnesses to address the claims Ravnsborg makes. But as usual, Ravnsborg avoided that sort of accountability. He waited to kick up his smoke until last night. so legislators and journalists and everyone else would have as little time as possible to clear that smoke, so that as much of that smoke as possible would remain in the air when Representatives convene to vote this morning.
And Noem is profoundly right when she says impeachment is not about her. This Special Session exists to consider nothing but Jason Ravnsborg’s fitness for office. If legislators have an axe to grind on the Governor, impeachment is not the forum in which to do so.
Remember when South Dakota’s Reptilian Party wasn’t a fustercluckin’ soap opera/madhouse? No? Me either.
Jason needs to burn in Hell.
Ravnsborg’s letters evidently doesn’t sound convincing to legislators: Austin Goss reports that House GOP leaders appealed to Ravnsborg to resign to avoid impeachment (and to keep them from having to go on the record to remove him). This morning, Ravnsborg refused.
I know better than to get optimistic about the South Dakota Legislature. But it sounds like they aren’t buying Ravnsborg’s defense. They aren’t buying his ploy to say he’s protecting them from Noem’s arrogance.
I am especially angered by Jason Ravnsborg’s statement; “On numerous occasions, I’ve expressed my deep sympathy to the Boever family, both publicly and privately.” This is a flat out lie. The Boever family is a large family but if he has expressed sympathy he hasn’t expressed it to Joe’s widow, Jenny Boever or to Joe’s mother Dorothy Boever. It takes a special level of stupidity to make such a false claim that can be easily check. But then Jason Ravnsborg has been lying in an effort to make himself look good ever since this nightmarish saga began.
Nick–I’d be angry too…its obvious Ravnsborg lives a life of delusion with a day to day fantasy life that takes over from any grip he has on reality…he lives in Ravnsborg’s World, exclusive of reality.
A settlement to Jenny Boever was paid by Ravnsborg’s insurance company. Is a case against the state being prepared?
I don’t know if there is a case against the state or if one will be made.
Thanks Nick. What a cluster.
The line that galls me the most in Jason Ravnsborg’s last-minute publicity stunt to loosen up the moral underpinnings of a few dumb Republican legislators is this:
“However, this matter instantly became about far more than an accident and the adherence to the law. It was immediately seized and politically weaponized by Governor Noem.”
Those two sentences alone are so packed with lies that they should create whiplash for most reasonable minds.
Noem may well have been disgusted with the arrogance and creepy entitlement (oh, the irony!) displayed by Ravnsborg. If killing a pedestrian because of his reckless neglect and lying about it to authorities can be politically weaponized by a sitting governor of your own party, look who Ravnsborg politically weaponized: Joe Boever.
To defend is stupid ass, the centerpiece of the Ravnsborg defense still is the unforgivable and wicked lie that Joe jumped into the middle of the driving lane to kill himself because, so the lie is spun, he was mentally imbalanced. Because he had too much medicine in his system. Because Jason Ravnsborg is the victim of this story, not the man Jason killed, Joe Boever.
Politically weaponizing a completely innocent homicide victim as the core of a state Attorney General’s defense ought to be considered malfeasance all by itself. Dead men don’t tell tales, right Jason? Oh, you’re so clever.
Happy birthday, you creep.
Add the apology claim to the list of lies Jason has told on office. He told this lie to the Legislature to persuade them not to impeach.
No wonder he didn’t want to testify under oath: he can’t make his case without lying.
Bonnie Fairbank, I remember bac in the early 1970s a billboard on the west side of the Big Sioux river with Guv Kneip’s personal welcome to me to come to Hudson, South Dakota as an underage (in iowa) beer consumer.
Halle-freaking- lujah, there is a new Buckaroo Bar in Hudson. Hot damn. Someone make me 19 years old again, please.
Ohhh the poor boy. Gosh his life has changed. Driving his Hyde off.. I know that road well, just let him run on the road late at night and see if he can make it to Holabird. I’ll dive carefully after just a couple of beers at the corner, just to loosen up.. Five minute headstart. Remember he has to stay on the edge of the road, I wouldn’t want to mistake him for a deer with a flashlight. By the way Cory, I might be reading your blog while driving. If I do hit a deer, will the new sheriff loan me a car if I show him my card? I also wouldn’t want him to check for alcohol. My reunions in Pierre this year so I wouldn’t want to miss it.
The fellows in the legislatures who voted to not impeach need to be ousted. Those names need to be pasted on sandwich boards and displayed outside every decent eatery in South Dakota.
Looking at the impeachment vote, more Republican noted NOT to impeach then voted TO impeach. Then 3 republicans did not show up, or maybe did not want to go on the record either way.
That is just more proof in my mind that Noem was behind the robo calls and billboards. If these ongoing investigations go against Noem, Noem does not appear to have a lot of support from House members. 31 Republican House members went against Noem wishes, which says a lot IMO.
Noem got one thing seriously wrong. “He had months to offer his testimony to the impeachment committee but instead waited until the night before the House meets.”
He letters are not testimony.
Mr. Francis Schaffer
It was good to finally hear from Jenny Boever
on the news instead of other people that love the cameras and media.
Wasn’t Jenny Minnie the same one whining about the family feud being posted on DFP and thanked Cory for taking it down? What a difference a day makes. Hypocrite much?
Mike, what’s your problem? Your arthritis getting to You? It WAS good to hear from Jenny Boever. She and Joe are the true victims in all of this and I am glad she went in front of the camera.
Have a good Day, Mike.