happening in south dakota
February 24, 2021

Articles of impeachment have been filed against South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R), after new evidence emerged in a fatal car crash he was involved in last September.

The accident took place at around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, as Ravnsborg drove home from a Republican fundraiser. Ravnsborg initially told investigators he thought he hit an animal, but after returning to the scene the next day, he found the body of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanors last week — careless driving, driving out of his lane, and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone — and faces up to 90 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

On Tuesday, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety released video of two three-hour interviews of Ravnsborg recorded on Sept. 14 and 30. During the Sept. 30 interview, Ravnsborg is told that detectives found a pair of broken reading glasses inside his vehicle that had belonged to Boever. "His face was in your windshield, Jason," one investigator told him. "Think about that." Ravnsborg denied seeing the glasses or a bright flashlight Boever was carrying; the light was still on when detectives arrived at the scene on Sept. 13.

After the interviews were made public, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) called on Ravnsborg to resign, and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers filed two articles of impeachment against him. "I do not believe Attorney General Ravnsborg belongs in prison," state Rep. Will Mortenson (R) told the Argus Leader, "but I know he does not belong in the Office of the Attorney General anymore." A private spokesman for Ravnsborg said he will not step down.

Nick Nemec, Boever's cousin, told The Washington Post the videos are proof that Ravnsborg "knew there was a dead man in that ditch. He knew what he hit and he lied." Nemec said he doesn't understand why Ravnsborg was charged with misdemeanors, and had been "hoping he would be charged with involuntary manslaughter, but that didn't happen. He's grossly undercharged." Catherine Garcia

February 17, 2016

The South Dakota state Senate cleared a bill, 20 to 15, on Tuesday that would prevent transgender students from using bathrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

If the bill is signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), South Dakota will become the first state in the U.S. that requires transgender students to use bathrooms and other facilities based on their "chromosome and anatomy" at birth, Time reports. The bill was passed in the state House earlier this month, in a vote of 58 to 10, and its sponsor, state Rep. Fred Deutsch, said during committee testimony that it protects "bodily privacy rights" of "biologic boys and girls." Transgender students will have the option of using alternate accommodations, he said, but the bill does not disclose what those accommodations would be.

Civil rights groups say this is misguided, with the ACLU South Dakota policy director Libby Skarin telling Time the bill "causes actual harm to transgender students, an already vulnerable population. It singles out and targets them and attempts to isolate them, in a way that is really truly hurtful and discriminatory." Catherine Garcia

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