October 3, 2022
According to newly released documents, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem tried to avoid ethics hearings and seal records

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem asked state ethics board To dismiss a complaint against him without a public hearing and seal some records, show documents released on Friday by the state government’s accountability board.

The Republican governor, widely seen as the 2024 White House bid, argued in an April resolution that the state’s attorney general, a fellow Republican who filed the complaint, was out for political vendetta and should The complaint should be dropped. Noem was Pushed Former Attorney General Jason Ravensborg For resigning and later for his impeachment for being involved in a fatal car accident.

The attorney general’s complaint stemmed from a report in The Associated Press last year that Noem played a hands-on role at a state agency. Noam held a meeting with Peters and key decision makers in her license, shortly after the agency denied her daughter, Cassidy Peters, a real estate appraiser license in July 2020. A few days after the meeting, Peters signed an agreement that gave him another chance to meet the licensing requirements.

The Republican-controlled South Dakota Legislature’s audit committee unanimously approved a report in May that found Noam’s daughter received preferential treatment.

Records released Friday provided some new insight into an investigation that the Government Accountability Board has conducted in secret for nearly a year. Three retired judges evaluating the ethics complaint unanimously found last month that there was enough evidence for them to believe that Noam had “engaged in misconduct” by misconduct and conflict of interest.

The board has said that “appropriate action” will be taken against Noem, although it did not specify the action. It is also unclear whether Noem will request a disputed case hearing before the board to publicly defend herself against the charges.

Neither her office nor her campaign said on Friday whether she would go ahead with the public hearing. He has continued to publicly insist that he has done nothing wrong.

Records show that Noem, in a 29-page motion to the board, made several arguments for dismissal of the complaint. Her lawyer, Lisa Prostrolo, scoffed at Ravensborg’s allegations, saying it was “absurd,” a “political attack” and based on “far-fetched principles.”

The motion argues that Noem’s daughter attended the July 2020 meeting as an applicant to provide her perspective and seeks to defend how it was appropriate when she was denied her license. Government ethics experts have said that the timing and circumstances of the meeting created a clear conflict of interest for the governor.

Noem’s counsel argued that the Government Accountability Board does not have the constitutional power to take action against the governor or to evaluate a complaint against him. And the lawyer suggested that Ravensborg, who had been forced out of office, be dropped from the complaint and replaced with the deputy attorney general overseeing the office at the time.

In August, the board rejected Noem’s proposal. However, it appears that Noem’s requests were later given some attention. It dismissed two allegations by Ravensborg that it misappropriated public funds, and blocked some records from being released.

Ravenborg suggested that the board begin a full investigation of the case by hiring a Minneapolis law firm. However, the board seems ready to settle the matter. It closed the complaint and has so far kept it a secret as to what “action” it might take against the governor, although it has suggested that the complaint may be reopened later.

The secrecy of the board’s possible action against the governor has prompted some criticism from government ethics experts, who say the board should be transparent.

“I hope they make their plan of action public as soon as possible,” Karen Soli, a former Democratic state legislator who helped form the board, told the AP last month.

Noem also proposed the removal of certain documents from the record, but it is not clear what those records were as the board had not issued that motion. The board’s counsel, Mark High, said the motion was not issued because it contained a list of revised records.

The board previously voted to revise records that “contain privileged information” relating to state funds to pay litigation. The agency’s former director, Sherry Braine, received a $200,000 payment from the fund to settle an age discrimination complaint filed by Labor Secretary Marcia Holtman after she was pressured to retire in December of 2020.

Meanwhile, the board has sent a separate complaint to Attorney General Mark Vargo, appointed by Noem to replace Ravensborg, to investigate the state’s use of airplanes. Ravensborg alleged that the use of state-owned aircraft to fly to political events and escort family members around the state violated state law that only allowed the aircraft to be used for state business. allows.

Vargo’s office said Friday that, “to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” he has requested Hughes County State Attorney Jessica Lamy to oversee the work of the criminal investigation and make any charge decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.