AG Ravnsborg should resign now or Legislature should impeach

OPINION — A tragedy occurred on Sept. 12, 2020 – Joe Boever, walking back to Highmore along side of the road, was struck and fatally killed by Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg returning home to Pierre from a Lincoln Day dinner in Redfield.

Another tragedy has occurred every day since then – Ravnsborg has not taken full responsibility for his actions. It is because of this that we call on him to resign immediately. Should he fail to do so, we call on the state Legislature to seek his impeachment.

The last thing Revnsborg said he remembers before the impact was reaching down to turn the radio off. His eyes, allegedly averted from the road, allowed his Ford Taurus to veer out of the lane of travel and onto the shoulder striking Boever who was carrying a lit flashlight. Boever’s head went through the windshield and his glasses were later found in the car. His flashlight, still lit, was found the next day along side of the road near where his body, stark white from blood loss, lay, just inches from the pavement.

“First and foremost, I am very sorry Joe Boever lost his life in this accident. I am sorry to the entire family for the loss of their loved one. They have had to deal with the pain, anger, and sadness of this accident,” Ravnsborg said in a prepared statement Aug. 26 after his attorney, Tim Rensch, accepted a plea agreement on Ravnsborg’s behalf. Ravnsborg didn’t even show up in the courtroom to face his accusers or the family of the victim.

That’s all there was for an apology, if you could call it that, was. The rest of the statement was how he cooperated with law enforcement and touted his accomplishments in office.

Now accidents happen. They happen every day. Sometimes people get hurt or are even killed in those crashes. That’s not why we are calling for his resignation.

But when the top law enforcement officer in this state is the cause of one of those fatal crashes and then is utterly disingenuous and dishonorable in his subsequent actions, it is time for him to go.

He has eroded the trust and faith needed of his office.

Already, the South Dakota Sheriff’s Association has called for his resignation.

The South Dakota Police Chiefs Association has called for his resignation.

The South Dakota Fraternal Order of Police has called for his resignation.

The Army Reserve placed Ravnsborg’s promotion on hold recognizing the gravity of the matter.

Gov. Kristi Noem called on him to resign following the accident, and once again after he was found guilty of two of the three misdemeanors he was charged with. The other charge was dropped as part of his plea agreement in which he pleaded no contest.

“With today’s plea, Jason Ravnsborg’s legal proceedings have concluded.  Like many South Dakotans, I am not only disappointed in how this process was handled by prosecutors, but outraged at the result of today’s plea hearing and sentencing,” Noem said. “Ravnsborg has not accepted responsibility for the death of Joseph Boever and did not even appear in court today to face the charges or the Boever family.”

Craig Price, the secretary of the SD Department of Public Safety and former head of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, said in his opinion as a 24-year law enforcement officer, that Ravnsborg should be charged with 2nd-degree manslaughter, a felony.

He said the materials he was providing to House Speaker Spencer Gosch, consisting of evidence and investigators’ conclusions, were challenged publically by Ravnsborg, and as such, “made a number of assertions that disparaged the work and reputation of the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation.”

Ravnsborg has continued to show his disregard for the law as four days before his trial, he received a speeding ticket – driving 57mph in a 35mph-zone. He also failed to have his driver’s license on him. And it was his seventh ticket in seven years.

Attorney Rensch and some legislators cited Ravnsborg’s military service in which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

“… He is an honorable man. He is not a coward. He has a Bronze Star defending our country,” Rensch said.

But honorable actions taken in the past do not give you a free pass for less than honorable actions today.

The Army values include: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.

Ravnsborg certainly did not display personal courage when he was a no-show for his trial. He owed it to the family of the man he killed to stand up and face them, take his lumps, let them vent their anger and frustration. It’s what should have happened.

He hasn’t showed his integrity, failing to sincerely apologize or take responsibility for his actions.

He hasn’t respected Boever or his family having tried to have Boever’s medical records admitted in court proceedings as an attempt to shift the blame from himself causing a tragic accident, to Boever himself in perhaps, just maybe, he flung himself in front of the car in a suicide attempt.

He has clearly failed to live up to U.S. Army values. He has failed to live up to South Dakota values.

So we join the Yankton Press & Dakotan in calling for Ravnsborg to immediately resign. Should he not, we call on the state Legislature to impeach him.

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