What is the process for impeaching an Attorney General?

After Articles of Impeachment were officially filed on Tuesday, the big question is, what’s next?
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:32 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Articles of Impeachment were officially filed on Tuesday. The big question now is, what’s next?

If convicted, Ravnsborg would be the first official to be impeached in South Dakota’s history.

I spoke with political experts to break down the step-by-step impeachment process for a state official.

Now, the next step turns to House lawmakers.

Michael Card, a Professor of Political Science at the University of South Dakota, said, “It’s a simple majority vote. There are 70 members of the South Dakota House of Representatives, so 36 votes would be needed.”

Lisa Hager, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at South Dakota State University, said, “So, if the majority of the members do vote to approve those Articles of Impeachment, then we would have an impeachment occur.”

Then, there will be 20 days before the trial would begin in the Senate.

Card said, “They’ve got 20 days to prepare and they will not be in their official position during that time.”

Hager said, “He cannot serve while we’re going through that process on the senate side, so there would have to be someone have to be someone acting in an interim capacity.”

The next move would be the trial taking place in the Senate.

Hager said, “And then as long as 2/3 of the senators vote to convict, then we would have the official removed from office.”

Though this process is similar to a presidential impeachment— the South Dakota constitution lays out specific grounds for what is considered an impeachable offense.

“There’s actually discussion of drunkeness, crimes, corrupt conduct, malfeasance, or misdemeanor in office. So here, we do have the attorney general being convicted of misdemeanor offenses. So, in terms of whether or not this is an impeachable offense, we don’t have that question nearly as prominent as what we’ve seen at the federal level,” explained Hager.

Since this is a first for South Dakota, several questions linger.

Since Ravnsborg previously stated he would not be resigning, is that still an option for him after today?

Hager said, “He could definitely still resign and that’s an option for him.” It’s unclear if the impeachment would still move forward if he did decide to resign.

But, what happens if he does not resign and does become impeached?

Card said, “Anyone who is impeached can’t hold an office within the state of South Dakota.”

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