South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem knocked by ethics board over daughter’s real estate license flap

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem knocked by ethics board over daughter's real estate license flap

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem might have “engaged in misconduct” when she stepped in to help her daughter get a real estate appraiser license, a state ethics board said Monday — though it wasn’t immediately clear what, if any, action would be taken against the staunch conservative

The Government Accountability Board also referred a separate complaint over Noem’s use of a state airplane to South Dakota’s interim attorney general for investigation.

The board’s action stems from two complaints brought last year by former state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg – who was impeached and removed from office after fatally striking a pedestrian while driving in 2020.

“Knowing what I know as the complainant, Gov. Noem should be fully investigated for her abuse of power in getting her daughter an appraiser license, and Gov. Noem should be prosecuted for her criminal use of state resources for personal gain,” Ravnsborg said in a statement.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Complaints against South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem were filed after suspicions were raised that she helped her daughter obtain a real estate appraiser license.
AP/John Raoux

The Associated Press reported last year that Noem had called a meeting with her daughter, the state labor secretary and the then-director of the state’s Appraiser Certification Program in 2020 after the agency moved to deny Noem’s daughter’s license application. At that meeting, a plan was discussed to give the governor’s daughter, Kassidy Peters, another chance to show she could meet federal standards in her work.

Noem’s office has said the plan was already in the works before the meeting, but the agency’s director, Sherry Bren, told a legislative committee last year that she felt “intimidated” during the meeting at the governor’s mansion where Peters’ unsuccessful application was discussed in detail. A Republican-controlled panel that probed the episode concluded that Peters received special treatment.

Peters ultimately obtained the certification four months later, in November 2020.

After meeting for an hour in a closed-door session Monday, the board’s four members unanimously voted to proceed to a contested case hearing that would allow Noem to publicly defend herself in the appraisal controversy — but dismissed Ravnsborg’s allegations that Noem misused state funds in the episode.

Lori Wilbur, the board chair, said the complaint was “partially dismissed and partially closed,” but added that the complaint could be reopened.

In this Sept. 28, 2016 photo, Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo speaks against Marsy's Law in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The board referred that complaint to the state attorney general’s office, which is headed up by Noem appointee Mark Vargo on an interim basis.
AP/James Nord

Ravnsborg’s other complaint was filed after online news website Raw Story found that Noem in 2019 used a state airplane to travel to events hosted by political organizations such as the National Rifle Association and the Republican Jewish Coalition, even though South Dakota law bars state airplanes from being used for anything other than state business.

Noem has said she was traveling to the events as an ambassador for South Dakota.

The board referred that complaint to the state attorney general’s office, which is headed up by Noem appointee Mark Vargo on an interim basis.

Noem has been mooted as part of a potential Republican ticket in 2024 and his expected to easily win reelection as governor in November.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

With Post wires

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