South Dakota Ethics Committee moves forward on Noem’s complaints

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SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) — A South Dakota ethics committee decided on Monday to hire an outside attorney as it reviews a pair of ethics complaints against Gov. Kristi Noem, delaying its decision to investigate on allegations of the governor interfering with a state agency evaluating his daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license and misusing state aircraft.

After meeting for about an hour in a closed executive session, retired judges who sit on the Government Accountability Board decided they needed legal advice, but shouldn’t come from the lawyer who usually advises counsel because she works in the attorney general’s office. That attorney, Katie Mallery, was recused from legal business in the complaints.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who is a Republican like Noem, launched the complaints after the media reported Noem’s actions in office. The board’s decision on Monday was a procedural decision as a key moment for complaints approaches.

The board in February asked Noem to respond to the complaints and will eventually decide whether to dismiss them or investigate.

“We haven’t made an initial decision yet, so we’ll be consulting with a lawyer on this,” said board chairwoman Lori Wilbur, a retired Supreme Court justice.

The board’s review of complaints has stretched since last year and has taken place entirely in private meetings. Democratic Rep. Linda Duba, who was at Monday’s meeting, expressed frustration with the laws governing the council, which was created in 2017 but has never addressed high-profile allegations against Israel’s top official. State.

“For a law that was passed that was supposed to provide transparency, we’re in the dark,” she said.

The Associated Press reported that the governor played a hands-on role with the appraiser certification agency as it assessed her daughter’s application for an appraiser’s license in 2020. Just days after the Labor Department and Regulation decided to deny his daughter’s request, Noem called a meeting with his daughter, the Secretary of Labor and the Director of the Appraiser Certification Program.

Agency director Sherry Bren told a legislative committee last year that she felt ‘intimidated’ at the meeting, where she said Peters’ unsuccessful candidacy was discussed in detail and that a plan had been formulated to give him another chance to apply. Noem’s office, defending the governor’s conduct, said the plan was already in the works before the meeting.

The attorney general’s other complaint was prompted by a report by Raw Story, an online news site. Noem in 2019 had used state jets to travel to events hosted by political organizations, including the National Rifle Association and the Republican Jewish Coalition, even though South Dakota law prohibits their use for anything other than business. of State.

Noem, who faces re-election this year and has positioned herself as a White House contender in 2024, called the reports a political attack.

In her daughter’s case, she said she was working to “cut red tape” to address a shortage of assessors. She said she was acting as an ambassador for the state in her use of state aircraft.

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