AP

Gov. Kristi Noem silent on possible appeal to ethics board

Sep 16, 2022, 11:37 AM | Updated: 1:57 pm

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem faced a Friday deadline to appeal a state ethics board’s finding that there was evidence she improperly intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license.

The Government Accountability Board voted unanimously last month that there was enough evidence to believe the Republican governor had committed malfeasance and engaged in a conflict of interest.

Noem has maintained she did nothing wrong, but so far the process has been conducted in private. Neither her office nor her reelection campaign answered questions Friday on whether she would proceed to a contested case hearing that would give her a chance to make her case publicly.

The board took unspecified “action” against the governor, and board member Gene Kean said last month that Friday would be the deadline for Noem to respond.

If there is no public hearing, it’s not clear whether the board will release details of the action it took. The board closed the complaint last month but suggested it could be reopened.

A lawyer who has represented the governor before the board also did not respond to questions.

The Associated Press first reported that shortly after a state agency moved in July 2020 to deny Noem’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, an appraiser license, the governor held a meeting with Peters and key decision-makers in her licensure. Days after the meeting, Peters signed an agreement that gave her another opportunity to meet the licensing requirements. The South Dakota Legislature’s audit committee, controlled by Republicans, unanimously approved a report in May that found Noem’s daughter got preferential treatment.

Noem previously requested the ethics complaint be dismissed without a hearing by arguing that the person who brought it, former Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, was out for revenge after she successfully pushed for his impeachment and removal from office for his conduct in a 2020 fatal car crash.

In that April motion to the board, Noem’s attorneys also said she could counter the accusations against her. Her campaign spokesman, Ian Fury, on Friday referred a reporter to an August statement that branded the board’s action as “illegal.”

But declining to fight the evidence in a contested case hearing would allow the board’s “action” against her while potentially avoiding further public scrutiny.

The Government Accountability Board, which has never handled such a high-profile case since its inception in 2017, has not publicly said what action it has taken. It has deliberated over the complaints for nearly a year in a series of closed-door meetings, navigating untested laws.

Board member David Gienapp, at the board’s August meeting, verbally moved to invoke a statute — SDCL 3-24-7 — that states the board “shall” hold a contested case hearing “to afford the accused person the opportunity to respond to the allegation.” But the board’s draft minutes, posted two days later, make no mention of that statute. Instead, the draft minutes state that the board acted to “make an initial determination” that the complaint “alleges facts” that the governor engaged in misconduct.

The board’s minutes state that it took “appropriate action,” but the board has kept that action a secret so far. The board is allowed under state law to issue a private reprimand. But the statute says it may take that action at the conclusion of a contested case hearing and after it has determined, by a majority vote, that there has been misconduct.

“Their official actions, whatever they may be, should be a public record,” said David Bordewyk, who directs the South Dakota Newspaper Association and advocates for open records and meeting laws.

“Given the nature of this board, which is to hold public officials accountable, the public has a right to know what those accountability measures are, regardless of the official.”

Board members this week either declined to comment or did not return a request for comment. An attorney hired by the board, Mark Haigh, has previously said it “fully complied” with all the requirements in the laws governing it.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

22 minutes ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

4 days ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

5 days ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

5 days ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

7 days ago

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Gov. Kristi Noem silent on possible appeal to ethics board