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Blogger: SD Impeachment Meetings Highlight Transparency Issues

This week (Tuesday and Wednesday), a special committee of the South Dakota House of Representatives is considering the impeachment of State Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. Yesterday’s meetings (December 28, 2021) included several executive sessions. Part of today’s (Wednesday) agenda includes time when the meeting is open to the media and the public.

John Tsitrian, is the co-editor of the non-partisan South Dakota Standard blog. He says the meetings themselves reveal transparency issues that he believes are all too common in South Dakota state government.

“We just have to come to terms with what’s going on behind closed doors, without getting the kind of information that would help us decide if these people are doing the right thing, the wrong thing, the political thing.”

Tsitrian says when voters go to the polls in 2022, they should do their best to seek out candidates and seriously consider those who detail plans for more open government.

“This is probably the most practical way for the public to approach it right now. And then at some point there could probably be a process where an entity would take a look at our existing transparency laws. “

In recent years, South Dakota has scored low on national rankings for state government accountability and transparency.

Tsitrian also expressed concerns over the nepotism surrounding Governor Kristi Noem and the recent processing of her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license. Noem has denied any wrongdoing in this matter. Noem also faced backlash regarding access to travel expenses for appearances in other states.

Calls for Ravnsborg’s dismissal began after he fatally struck a pedestrian in 2020, avoiding jail time thanks to a plea deal. He claims that the news media reported false allegations about the incident. But, Noem and others criticized the deal and called for its withdrawal.