Gouvernement du Dakota du Sud. Kristi Noem is slamming how fellow Republicans are handling an impeachment probe of the state’s attorney general for his role in a fatal car crash
Gouvernement du Dakota du Sud. Kristi Noem on Wednesday slammed how fellow Républicains are handling an impeachment probe of the state’s attorney general for his role in a fatal car crash, alleging members of a House investigative committee are questioning law enforcement rather than focusing on the official’s conduct.
The committee spent hours late Tuesday during its first substantial public meeting drilling into the investigation of how Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck and killed a man walking near a rural highway on Sept. 12, 2020.
After watching the committee question the crash investigators, including her secretary of public safety, the Republican governor told The Associated Press early Wednesday, “It grieves me that because of a political agenda, some legislators on the committee are attacking the integrity of our law enforcement officers,” adding that it was an “inappropriate” and “tragic” turn of the committee’s attention.
The governor’s rebuke was the latest clash with a right wing of House Republicans in an episode that could affect the election-year prospects of several of the state’s top officials.
Noem, who is seeking reelection this year while positioning for a potential maison Blanche bid in 2024, invoked support for law enforcement officers and the grief of a dead man’s family as she pushed for “some justice” in the situation.
Ravnsborg, a Republican elected to his first term alongside Noem in 2018, pleaded no contest last year to a pair of misdemeanors in the crash. He first reported it as a collision with an animal and has insisted that he did not realize he had killed the man, 55-year-old Joseph Boever, until he returned to the scene the next day and discovered Boever’s body.
Noem has made it clear she believes the misdemeanor charges were not enough, and she wants him removed from office. In addition to calling for his resignation and supporting the impeachment inquiry, she has used the public release of video of Ravnsborg being interviewed by investigators to pressure him to step down.
The attorney general has refused, and several political allies on the House investigative committee posed questions about the governor’s role in the crash investigation.
She said she was not involved in the investigation but stayed informed “at certain points when it was appropriate.”
House Speaker Spencer Gosch, un républicain, questioned why North Dakota’s Highway Patrol had not taken over the investigation “given the political nature of the situation” between the governor and attorney general. Other Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Steve Haugaard, who is challenging Noem in the GOP primary, delved into what role the governor played in the decision to release an initial crash investigation diagram and the videos of Ravnsborg’s interview before his trial played out.
Gosch defended the focus of Tuesday’s committee meeting as an effort to be “thorough” in its probe. The committee was set to continue its questioning of crash investigators Wednesday.
Noem suggested they should focus on Ravnsborg’s conduct.
“This process is just to determine if the attorney general should still be the attorney general. That’s the only question in front of them,” Noem said. She said lawmakers should examine whether Ravnsborg still has the support of law enforcement officers.
Three of the state’s largest law enforcement groups last year called for Ravnsborg to resign.
Although Ravnsborg has stayed mostly silent on the crash investigation and impeachment inquiry, he is positioning for a reelection bid despite a primary challenge from former Attorney General Marty Jackley. After his trial last year, Ravnsborg accused “partisan opportunists” of exploiting the situation.