A state ethics board found enough evidence to take “appropriate action” against the South Dakota governor who intervened in her daughter’s application to become a real estate appraiser.
Three retired judges that comprise South Dakota’s Government Accountability Board found that Gov. Kristi Noem may have “engaged in misconduct” when her daughter, Kassidy Peters, was granted a third opportunity to secure her real estate appraiser license, CBS reported. The board also referred a separate complaint about Noem’s use of her state airplane to the state’s attorney general for investigation.
After an hour-long meeting, the board unanimously voted to begin the process that will allow for a contested case hearing where Noem, a Republican who’s up for reelection this year, will have the chance to publicly defend herself against the allegations.
In 2020, after a state agency denied Peters’ application for an appraiser license, Noem called a meeting with her daughter, the labor secretary and the director of the appraiser certification program to discuss a plan for Peters to have another chance to show how she could meet federal standards in her appraisal work.
Sherry Bren, who was the executive director of the state appraisers office at the time, told a legislative committee that she had felt “intimidated” during the meeting, which took place at the governor’s mansion.
Bren, who was pressured by the governor’s administration to retire a few months later, testified that the state’s handling of Peters’ application was unusual since her denial was a result of deficiencies in her work.
Noem’s spokesperson, Ian Fury, told the outlet that the board’s action doesn’t “follow state law or precedent.”
“They have yet to point to one single statute the governor has violated in either of these complaints,” Fury said in a statement.
Former state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a Republican who was impeached and removed from office after killing a man in a traffic accident and filed complaints against Noem that were later dismissed, said she should face repercussions.
“Gov. Noem should be fully investigated for her abuse of power in getting her daughter an appraiser license,” Ravnsborg said in a statement. He also said she “should be prosecuted for her criminal use of state resources for personal gain.”
— Victoria Pruitt