SD State Senate signs off on impeachment, House still seeking approval
The South Dakota State Legislature is one step closer to considering the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. However, Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) says that he will not make the names of the individuals who signed onto impeachment public.
PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota State Senate has confirmed that they are prepared to move forward with the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, confirming that they had obtained the necessary amount of signatures from their members to move forward.
The future of the proceeding now hinges on 2/3rds of the State House also agreeing to move forward, or 47 of the 70 members of that body.
However, it is likely the names of those agreeing to pursue impeachment will never be released publicly.
Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) says he does not intend to release the names of those who sign onto the petition requesting a special session, despite promising a “fair, thorough, and transparent process” last week.
“Because this is considered a ‘correspondence’ between state legislators and the Legislative Research Council (LRC)... It is not a final action or an official action,” Gosch explained. “It is just a correspondence between LRC and individual members, it is not a vote.”
Gosch cited SD Codified Law, 1-27-1.5 (subsection 12) to justify his stance. That law states that “certain records not open to inspection and copying” include “correspondence, memoranda, calendars or logs of appointments, working papers, and records of telephone calls of public officials or employees.”
LRC Director Reed Holwegner told Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory that he agreed with Gosch’s assessment of the law. Holwegner said that he did not intend to release the document with the names of those who signed on.
“It is not pertinent to what we are doing here,” Gosch said about the individual signatures. “It is just whether or not we have the special session that is the pertinent information here.”
The Speaker pointed out that when, and if, they proceed, every member’s vote on the issue would be made public anyway. Additionally, all legislative meetings regarding impeachment would be open to the public.
Despite amassing all the necessary signatures to push a special session in just a matter of days, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) says that his body is only looking to support the House for now.
“If the House issues articles of impeachment, then it will come to the Senate, then we will have a role,” Schoenbeck said.
If impeachment were to be pursued immediately following the redistricting special session, currently scheduled for November 8th, Schoenbeck said it is likely that the Senate would not take it up until January 12th anyway, because of the holidays.
“Until then, we don’t have a role, we are just like the 830,000 other people in South Dakota, watching.”