Removed South Dakota AG presses ethics case against Noem

Jun 27, 2022, 11:30 AM | Updated: Jun 28, 2022, 6:27 am
FILE - South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)...

FILE - South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Former South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravsborg has asked a state ethics board to press for an investigation Monday, June 27, 2022, of Noem. Ravnsborg blames the governor for his impeachment and removal from office last week for his conduct surrounding a fatal crash in 2020. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Former South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, in his first public comments since being removed from office last week, appeared before a state ethics board Monday to press for an investigation of fellow Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, the person he blames for his impeachment over his conduct surrounding a 2020 fatal car crash.

As attorney general, Ravnsborg last year filed a pair of complaints against Noem to the state’s Government Accountability Board alleging she abused the powers of her office by interfering in a state agency as it evaluated her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license and by misusing state airplanes. The board, which is comprised of retired judges, has not decided whether to investigate Noem and is working with an attorney to evaluate the merits of the complaints.

Ravnsborg appeared at the Government Accountability Board’s meeting for the first time since he initiated the complaints last year and said he was ready to provide additional information.

He made it clear he thinks an investigation could have far-reaching consequences for Noem, who is running for reelection after a first term that vaulted her to national prominence. She’s widely considered to be a White House aspirant in 2024.

“I’m not going to let this just drop. I think that they should pursue it and I do believe that, ultimately, the House will pursue it,” Ravnsborg told The Associated Press, suggesting that Noem could also face impeachment for her actions.

The former attorney general denied that he was out for revenge against Noem, although he blames her for his removal.

Noem and Ravnsborg became political enemies after he struck and killed a pedestrian in 2020. Noem publicly called for Ravnsborg to resign and later pressed the Legislature to impeach him. The House eventually did, and the Senate last week convicted him of two charges: committing a crime that caused someone’s death and malfeasance for misleading investigators and misusing his office.

Ravnsborg blamed “emotion and political pressure” for tilting the Republican-controlled Senate against him and said Noem sought his removal because he had filed the complaints to the Government Accountability Board.

“I think that among these two complaints — and there’s other scandals that she’s involved in — that she did not want the information to come to light,” he said.

Noem’s spokesman Tony Mangan declined to comment on the board’s proceedings or Ravnsborg’s remarks.

The board has tapped Sioux Falls attorney Mark Haigh, who primarily specializes in business and health care law, to help evaluate Ravnsborg’s complaints. Haigh also has experience arguing before juries, administrative boards and licensing agencies.

The Associated Press reported last year that the governor held a meeting in July 2020 that included her daughter and key decision-makers in her application for an appraiser license just days after the agency moved to deny the license. A Republican-controlled legislative committee concluded that Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, got preferential treatment.

Noem has rejected that finding, saying her daughter followed the same process as other applicants.

But the agency’s former director, Sherry Bren, told the legislative committee last year that she felt “intimidated” at the July 2020 meeting, where she said Peters’ unsuccessful application was discussed in detail and a plan was formed to give her an unprecedented, additional chance to show she could meet federal standards. Noem’s office has said the plan was in the works before the meeting.

Peters got her license four months later. Shortly after that, Bren retired under pressure from Noem’s cabinet secretary. She eventually received a $200,000 settlement to withdraw an age discrimination complaint.

Ravnsborg’s other complaint was sparked by a report from Raw Story, a news website. Noem in 2019 used state airplanes to travel to events held by political organizations including the National Rifle Association and the Republican Jewish Coalition, even though South Dakota law bars their use for anything other than state business.

Noem defended the trips as part of her work as an ambassador for the state.

The board’s consideration of the complaints began last year and has happened entirely in private meetings. It could either investigate the complaints and potentially hold hearings or dismiss them entirely.

The judges will meet next on Aug. 3.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
6 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
14 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
14 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
21 days ago
A young bison calf stands in a pond with its herd at Bull Hollow, Okla., on Sept. 27, 2022. The cal...
Associated Press

US aims to restore bison herds to Native American lands after near extinction

U.S. officials will work to restore more large bison herds to Native American lands under a Friday order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
21 days ago
Children play in a dried riverbed in Flassans-sur-Issole, southern France, Wednesday, March 1, 2023...
Associated Press

Italy, France confront 2nd year of western Europe drought

ROME (AP) — Bracing for Italy’s second consecutive year of drought for the first time in decades, Premier Giorgia Meloni huddled with ministers Wednesday to start mapping out an action plan Wednesday, joining France and other nations in western Europe grappling with scant winter rain and snow. Meloni and her ministers decided to appoint an […]
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Removed South Dakota AG presses ethics case against Noem