The state’s Government Accountability Board said that “appropriate action” could be taken against the South Dakota governor and possible 2024 presidential candidate, without specifying the action. A separate complaint heard by the board regarding Noem’s use of a state airplane was referred back to the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.
“We will be diligent in our duty and thoroughly investigate the complaint that the Government Accountability Board has presented to the Attorney General’s Office,” Attorney General Mark Vargo said in a statement, according to local outlet Dakota News Now. “The investigation, as with all other investigations, will remain confidential as does the complaint that has been presented to us. We have no other comment at this time.”
In 2020, Noem allegedly took a hands-on role in helping her then 26-year-old daughter Kassidy Peters obtain her real estate appraiser license after her application was denied by a South Dakota agency. The Associated Press reported last year that Noem called a meeting with the state employee in charge of the appraisal licensure agency, the employee’s supervisor, the state labor secretary, and Peters at the governor’s office. Peters was then given another shot at meeting federal standards, and she was granted her license four months after the meeting, according to the Associated Press.
The ethics panel indicated that the appraisal license complaint was “partially dismissed and partially closed” but could be reopened.
The board has the authority to issue a public or private reprimand, direct an official to do community service, or make a recommendation to the governor, which is an unlikely option in this case, since the complaint centers on Noem.
The complaint over the governor’s use of a state airplane referred to the Attorney General’s Office arose in February 2021 after an article was published by Raw Story alleging she used the plane for campaigning and personal reasons, including for events hosted by the National Rifle Association and the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Noem has denied the allegations on several occasions.
Noem is running for reelection in 2022, facing Democratic challenger Jamie Smith, a state legislator, in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1974. In May, Noem’s campaign reported having $7.7 million in cash on hand versus Smith’s $110,000 in cash.
On Monday, Noem’s campaign blasted the ethics panel, with a spokesman saying the board “did not follow state law or precedent.”
“They have yet to point to one single statute the governor has violated in either of these complaints,” Noem campaign spokesman Ian Fury said in a statement to the Associated Press.