South Dakota lawmaker gave legal advice to AG after fatal accident | South Dakota News


PIERRE, SD (AP) — A lawmaker who will vote next week on whether to impeach South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said he gave him legal advice following Ravnsborg’s involvement in the a fatal car accident.

Rep. Scott Odenbach, who at the time was running for the House seat he eventually won, said Ravnsborg contacted him to participate in a public statement released two days after the attorney general struck and killed Joe Boever, a pedestrian who was walking along a rural road in September 2020.

Odenbach, a Republican attorney and Spearfish, told special agents in North Dakota that he advised Ravnsborg on the wording of the statement, according to an audio released recently with the filing of the impeachment committee’s findings. Room.

“On this thing he called and I gave him advice on how best to move forward on this in a capacity that I would describe as his attorney,” Odenbach told a special agent.

“OK,” North Dakota Special Agent Joe Arenz said. “So that was kind of a legal opinion there?”

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“Yes, of course it was,” Odenbach said.

Odenbach says he edited the statement and sent it back to Ravnsborg, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.

Odenbach says his friendship with Ravnsborg and his informal legal advice don’t prevent him from doing his job as a state representative, which includes considering impeachment.

Republican House Speaker Spencer Gosch said it was up to Odenbach to decide whether to abstain.

“If he’s given some kind of legal advice and there’s attorney-client privilege, that’s something he’ll have to deal with in relation to his client. I don’t know much about it, nor did I review it because it had nothing to do with the case,” Gosch said.

The Legislative Assembly’s Code of Conduct states that legislators must avoid any conflict of interest that would interfere with their duties and responsibilities as legislators, or with the exercise of their best judgment in support of the state.

The Republican-controlled impeachment committee voted along party lines to release a report concluding that his actions did not merit impeachment.

Full House lawmakers are meeting on Tuesday to consider whether to impeach Ravnsborg.

The attorney general called Boever’s death a tragic accident and did not contest a pair of traffic offenses in the crash last year.

Ravnsborg initially reported the accident as an animal collision and said he did not realize he had hit 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 had killed a man the night of the crash.

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