South Dakota’s legislature impeached Jason Ravnsborg. He was convicted of a crime that caused death or malfeasance and of causing someone’s death. The September 2020 incident in which Ravnsborg’s car collided with Joseph Boever on a dark street led to the impeachment.
Ravnsborg claimed in his 911 call that it was a mistake to believe he had hit a deer. His actions after the call made it clear that Ravnsborg knew this was a lie and that he had struck a human being.
Two traffic misdemeanors were charged against the AG. After a Gov.-led impeachment trial, he was fined $500 per citation. However, the Senate convicted him in a trial pushed by Kristie Noem.
Ravnsborg was a rising star in South Dakota Republican politics and Noem was his bitter rival. Noem was investigated by the attorney general after Ravnsborg suggested that he take a break from politics following the accident.
After Ravnsborg was quietly pressured to take a “leave of absence” by Noem’s chief of staff three days after the crash and later faced public calls from the governor for his resignation, he showed an increasing willingness to disrupt the political establishment by taking up investigations into the governor and those aligned with her.
In an April letter sent to House lawmakers on the eve of the impeachment vote, Ravnsborg said he would not resign in part because his office “has multiple ongoing investigations into the Governor’s alleged activities and people associated with her.”
Noem’s harassment of a state agency that refused her daughter a license as a real estate appraiser was one of the investigations. She was charged with campaign finance violations and used the state plane to travel to political events.
It is unlikely that the new attorney general, who is expected to be an ally to Noem, will bring any charges.
Noem’s name is more often mentioned in the GOP conversation about 2024. As a woman, she has a lot to offer. She is a well-respected midwestern governor, a strong politician, and an inspirational speaker.
Noem was a star of the coronavirus epidemic. She had been a surprise Republican success story in 2020, and even into last year during the height of partisan conflict over the pandemic. She became a Fox staple as she defied vaccine mandates and staged South Dakota as a beacon of hope for the skeptical and recalcitrant. CNN called her “the female Trump” and Trump encouraged Noem, a senior “RINO” senator from South Dakota, to nominate her (an invitation Noem declined). Noem was invited to speak at early presidential nominating state GOP party chair events by county and state GOP party chairs. She was awarded a personal reprimand in the impeccably liberal pages of Vanity Fair last summer — a badge for any Republican.
She lacks a natural base and it is difficult for her to launch a national campaign because of her small state. To be taken seriously, Noem will need to get a boost from a prominent Republican — possibly Trump.
Noem can for now be content with her position at the top of South Dakota’s politics. Noem is expected to win a second term in November.
The sky is the limit after that.