As South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem claws her way onto the national stage with one of the worst COVID responses in the country, she’s also drawing scrutiny for her shady use of the governor’s office to try to enrich her family and friends’ business interests.
In a new report from the Associated Press, Kristi Noem summoned the head of the agency overseeing her daughter’s real estate certification application after her daughter was denied.
Associated Press: “Just days after a South Dakota agency moved to deny her daughter’s application to become a certified real estate appraiser, Gov. Kristi Noem summoned to her office the state employee who ran the agency, the woman’s direct supervisor and the state labor secretary.”
George W. Bush’s former ethics lawyer said Noem’s actions were “clearly a conflict of interest and an abuse of power for the benefit of a family member.”
Associated Press: “While Peters was applying for the certification, Noem should have recused herself from discussions on the agency, especially any that would apply to her daughter’s application, said Richard Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who was the chief ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush. ‘It’s clearly a conflict of interest and an abuse of power for the benefit of a family member,’ he said.”
This isn’t the first time Kristi Noem has been under the magnifying glass for her shady use of her office and close ties to big business.
Salon: “Family members of South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem came into more than $600,000 from a state relief fund that was boosted by the governor herself to support small businesses struggling under the weight of the pandemic. According to the Associated Press, a ranch owned by Noem’s family benefited from a single relief payment of $500,000. Another family business owned by Noem’s two brothers, Arnold Bros. Water Management Inc., took two payments amounting to more than $100,000.”
National Review: “Although Noem has been governor only since 2019, her office has already been the subject of ethical scrutiny on multiple occasions. One of the first four employees she hired for her transition team in 2018 was her daughter, Kennedy Noem, still a student at South Dakota State University at the time of her hiring. Over the course of the two years she worked for her mother, Kennedy enjoyed more than $17,000 in raises — from $40,700 to $57,912 — at the taxpayers’ expense, including a 12 percent wage boost in the midst of a wage freeze that Noem had imposed on all other state employees in December 2020. That, paired with the fact that Kyle Peters, the husband of Noem’s older daughter, took a $60,000 salary in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development from the beginning of Noem’s term through June of this year, prompted a Republican state senator to introduce an anti-nepotism bill aiming to bar state officials from hiring relatives.”