South Dakota speaker, LRC to face 2nd AG impeachment petition lawsuit

The newspaper organizations will sue the Legislative Research Council over the decision to not release the names of the lawmakers who signed on to the special session petition to consider impeachment.
Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 11:16 AM MST
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PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) and the South Dakota Legislative Research Council will face a second lawsuit from the Argus Leader and the South Dakota Newspaper Association to make public the petition for a special session to consider the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

The second lawsuit will come after a previous effort by the two newspaper organizations to make public the House’s special session petition fell short with the South Dakota Supreme Court.

“Argus Leader Media and South Dakota Newspaper Association have authorized me to start an open records lawsuit under SDCL 1-27-38,” wrote lawyer Jon Arneson to South Dakota LRC Executive Director Reed Holwegner.

Arneson explains that the South Dakota Supreme Court’s original rejection was not based on “the merits of our case, but only on the procedure.”

The letter from Arneson goes on to explain that in filing the lawsuit with a circuit court, he would also intend to ask the court to impose a civil penalty in accordance with SDCL 1-27-40.2. That law states that “if the court determines that the public entity acted unreasonably and in bad faith the court may award costs, disbursements, and a civil penalty not to exceed fifty dollars for each day that the record or records were delayed through the fault of the public entity.”

South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Steven Jensen wrote in his original opinion that the “applicants have a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law to seek the public disclosure of the name of the members of the House of Representatives who signed the petition.”

Gosch took to Twitter to comment on his displeasure with the possibility of the lawsuit, also arguing that all legal actions regarding the matter should be directed exclusively at him, not LRC.

The Argus Leader nor the SDNA have replied to a request for comment.

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