The Associated Press says its investigation shows South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem personally “summoned” the head of a state agency to her office after the agency rejected her daughter’s application to become a certified real estate appraiser and that the agency head was later forced to retire.
Sherry Bren filed an age discrimination suit against the state over her ousting as head of the Appraiser Certification Program after 34 years and accepted a $200,000 settlement from the state.
The AP says the July meeting included Noem, her then-26 year old daughter Kassidy Peters, Bren, her immediate supervisor Kristine Juelfs, the Secretary of Labor, and Noem’s general counsel while her chief of staff and an attorney from the Labor Dept joined by phone.
Bren told the AP the governor asked questions about the certification process during the roughly hour-long meeting, but that during the discussion she was given a letter in which Juelfs wrote it “came as quite a shock” to her to learn Peters had been denied the appraiser certification.
Juelfs’ letter called into question the “timeliness and professionalism” of the process, and alleged the examiner who reviewed the application had “acted unprofessional” when conversing with Peters.
A few days before signing the agreement, Bren sent an email to industry colleagues expressing worry about the future of the program and saying she was forced to retire “at the behest of the administration.”
After the story ran, Noem accused the AP on Twitter of trying to “destroy” her children – calling it “just another example of the double standard that exists with the media going after conservatives and their kids while ignoring Liberals.
Noem’s chief spokesman also blasted the AP, saying the news agency was “disparaging the Governor’s daughter in order to attack the Governor politically,” adding that “no wonder Americans’ trust in the media is at an all-time low.”
Ethics experts contacted by The Associated Press say the meeting in Noem’s office was a conflict for her no matter what was discussed.