Lawmaker who advised attorney general recuses on impeachment

April 8, 2022 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota lawmaker who said he gave legal advice to Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg following a fatal car accident says he will not vote on whether to impeach Ravnsborg when the House convenes next week.

Republican Rep. Scott Odenbach sent a letter to the House speaker which says he plans to recuse himself from the vote and won’t attend the proceedings in Pierre Tuesday. Odenbach says he will do so “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

Odenbach, who at the time was running for the House seat he eventually won, says Ravnsborg reached out to him for input on a public statement that was released two days after the attorney general struck and killed Joe Boever, a pedestrian who was walking along a rural highway in September 2020.

Odenbach, a Spearfish attorney, told North Dakota special agents that he gave Ravnsborg advice on the wording of the statement, according to audio released recently with the file on the House impeachment committee’s findings, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.

ADVERTISEMENT

The attorney general has cast Boever’s death as a tragic accident and pleaded no contest last year to a pair of traffic misdemeanors in the crash.

Ravnsborg initially reported the crash as a collision with an animal and has said he did not realize he struck a man until he returned to the scene the next day and discovered his body. Criminal investigators doubted that account, but prosecutors said they were unable to prove that Ravnsborg realized he killed a man the night of the crash.