The South Dakota Senate on Tuesday convicted Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg of two impeachment charges stemming from a 2020 fatal crash, removing and barring him from future office in a stinging rebuke that showed most senators didn’t believe his account of the crash, the Associated Press reports. Ravnsborg, a first-term Republican who had announced he wouldn’t seek reelection, was convicted by senators of committing a crime that caused someone' s death. They delivered another guilty verdict on a malfeasance charge that alleged he misled investigators and misused his office. Ravnsborg told a 911 dispatcher the night of the crash that he might have struck a deer or other large animal and has said he didn’t know he struck a man — 55-year-old Joseph Boever — until he returned to the scene the next morning. Criminal investigators said they didn’t believe some of Ravnsborg’s statements, and several senators made clear they didn’t either. “There’s no question that was a lie,” said Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the chamber’s top-ranking Republican. “This person ran down an innocent South Dakotan.”
The convictions required a two-thirds majority in the Senate, controlled 32-3 by Republicans. Senators mustered the bare minimum 24 votes to convict Ravnsborg on the first charge, with some senators saying the two misdemeanors he pleaded guilty to weren’t serious enough crimes to warrant impeachment. The malfeasance charge sailed through with 31 votes. Votes to bar him from future office, taken on both counts, were unanimous. In September, Ravnsborg agreed to an undisclosed settlement with Boever’s widow. He is the first official to be impeached and convicted in South Dakota history. Ravnsborg was driving home from a political fundraiser after dark on Sept. 12, 2020, on a state highway when his car struck “something,” according to a transcript of his 911 call afterward. Investigators determined the attorney general walked right past Boever’s body and the flashlight Boever had been carrying — still illuminated the next morning — as he looked around the scene the night of the crash.