South Dakota board to review Noem’s meeting with daughter

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s attorney general said Wednesday he has asked the state’s Government Accountability Board to review questions about whether Gov. Kristi Noem improperly interfered in a state agency’s evaluation of her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license.

The board, which was created in 2017 to review allegations of misconduct from state officials, is a panel of four retired judges appointed by the governor; the current panel includes one Noem appointee.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in a statement that he made the referral “in response to questions and concerns from a number of legislators and citizens who reached out to me.”

The Associated Press reported last week that Noem held a meeting last year that included both her daughter and a state employee who was overseeing her daughter’s application to become a certified real estate appraiser. It happened shortly after the state agency moved to deny her daughter the license in July 2020.

Noem’s daughter eventually received her license four months later. Afterward, the state employee who directed the agency was allegedly pressured to retire by Noem’s Cabinet secretary. The state employee, Sherry Bren, eventually received a $200,000 payment from the state to withdraw the complaint and leave her job.

The Republican governor, who has positioned herself for a run for higher office, dismissed the report as a political attack, saying she never asked for special treatment for her daughter.

Although Ravnsborg and Noem are both Republicans, they have become political enemies after the governor called for him to resign following a car crash in which he struck and killed a man walking on a highway. The Legislature will meet next month to consider whether to move forward with his impeachment.

Ravnsborg last week also referred a call to investigate the governor’s use of the state airplane to the Government Accountability Board.