S.D. Governor Kristi Noem Put Under Prompt State Investigation

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State legislators in South Dakota will be examining a meeting that South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem had that involved, among other individuals, the then-head of the agency that grants real estate appraiser licenses in the state and the governor’s daughter, who was seeking to become a real estate appraiser. Noem’s daughter received her license in the months following that meeting, suggesting the imposition of political pressure by the governor on those responsible for the process. The original meeting took place shortly after that state agency had indicated a denial of the governor’s daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license, and Noem has resisted calls to spell out exactly what unfolded at the gathering.

Now, the South Dakota state legislature’s joint Government Operations and Audit Committee will be examining the issue at its upcoming meeting scheduled for the end of October, according to the panel’s chairperson, Republican state Sen. Kyle Schoenfish. As summarized by the Associated Press, Schoenfish “said the committee is still working out the details of how it will address the issue.” Referring to her daughter, Noem has lodged the defense that she “never asked for special treatment for Kassidy” and insisted that “Others went through the same process that Kassidy did” — but that’s not exactly true. “Others” weren’t part of meetings involving people leading the real estate appraiser certification process and a family member who doubled as the South Dakota governor.

Republican state Rep. Randy Gross, who serves as the vice-chair of Schoenfish’s committee, indicated that he hoped for “a reliable sequence of activities or events” from Noem as to what happened. After the governor’s daughter received her real estate appraiser certification, the state employee leading the agency responsible for it was pressured to resign by the state Labor Secretary. That employee, Sherry Bren, filed an age discrimination complaint before settling with the state for a payout of $200,000. Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba indicated to the Associated Press that he would be “looking into how the state government paid the $200,000 to Bren to settle her age discrimination complaint,” as recapped by the outlet, although Republicans currently control South Dakota legislative politics, so the investigative power resting with individuals outside the governor’s political party would be limited.