SD Legislative Committee To Address Noem Conflict Of Interest Issue

     The South Dakota Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee says it’s taking up conflict of interest concerns stemming from a meeting Gov Kristi Noem held in her office last year shortly after her daughter’s certification as a real estate appraiser was denied.

       Those in attendance included Noem, her daughter, the official in charge of the certification program, her boss, and the state Labor Secretary. 

     Certification was approved a few months later while the program director said she was forced to retire. She sued and was paid $200,000 by the state to drop her claim.

       The Associated Press broke the story on the incident this week, prompting the legislative committee to add it to the agenda for its next meeting at the end of October.

        Committee chairman and Republican State Senator Kyle Schoenfish says he’s still working out the details of how to address the issue.

     Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg announced Tuesday he was reviewing similar concerns raised by a group a Democratic lawmakers. State law has the attorney general’s office issue legal opinions requested by lawmakers.

       Noem blasted the AP story as politically motivated and an attempt to destroy her daughter while the governor’s chief spokesman said it was another example of why “Americans’ trust in the media is at an all-time low.”

    Ethics experts contacted by the AP said Noem should have recused herself from any discussion of the agency that denied her daughter’s certification because it has the appearance of a conflict of interest and abuse of power for the benefit of a family member.