Speed Reads

a matter of ethics

South Dakota ethics board finds Gov. Kristi Noem 'may have engaged in misconduct'

The Government Accountability Board in South Dakota said on Monday it has found sufficient information to show Gov. Kristi Noem (R) may have "engaged in misconduct" when she became involved in her daughter's attempt to get a real estate appraiser license, and "appropriate action" could be taken against her.

The ethics board, comprised of three retired judges, did not elaborate on the type of action. The board also referred a second complaint, about Noem's use of her state airplane, to the South Dakota attorney general's office for investigation, The Associated Press reports.

In 2021, AP reported that after South Dakota's Appraiser Certification Program moved to deny the license of Noem's daughter, Kassidy Peters, the governor asked Sherry Bren, the head of the agency; her supervisor; the state labor secretary; and Peters to come to her office. It is unclear what was discussed during this meeting. Four months later, Peters obtained her license, and about a week after that, the labor secretary demanded that Bren retire, Bren said in an age discrimination complaint.

South Dakota's former attorney general, Republican Jason Ravnsborg, filed several complaints about Noem's actions in office, triggering the ethics board meeting. Some of the complaints were dismissed, and Noem will have a chance to defend herself on the other allegations during a future contested case hearing. Noem, who is up for re-election this year, has denied any wrongdoing.

Ravnsborg hit and killed a pedestrian in September 2020 while driving home from a political fundraiser. Earlier this year, after South Dakota's state House impeached him and the state Senate convicted him of malfeasance in office, Ravnsborg was removed as attorney general. In a statement to AP, Ravnsborg said, "Knowing what I know as the complainant, Gov. Noem should be fully investigated for her abuse of power in getting her daughter an appraiser license and Gov. Noem should be prosecuted for her criminal use of state resources for personal gain."