South Dakota legislature moves subpoenas on Noem meeting
Sioux Falls, Sad South Dakota lawmakers moved on Monday to summon a document and former government employee amid questions about whether Governor Kristi Noem used her influence to help her daughter apply for a real estate appraiser’s license.
The Legislature’s Committee on Government Operations and Audit has been pressing for details of a meeting called by the governor last year that included her daughter, Mrs. Peters, and key decision-makers at a government agency that had moved days earlier to deny Peters’ request to be promoted to her certified appraiser.
The Republican governor, the self-proclaimed 2024 show at the White House, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. But the two subpoenas, which acquitted the Republican-controlled committee on Monday by an eight-to-two vote, show lawmakers want more answers about an incident that drew criticism from government ethics experts.
The subpoenas, however, were not finalized. It also has to be approved by a high-level legislative committee, the Executive Council, which meets on Wednesday.
The State Audit and Operations Committee has the ability to vet government records, but Noem’s management refused to hand over a document that could prove whether there was a plan to give Peters another chance to win a real estate appraiser’s license before last year’s meeting. The Ministry of Labor and Regulation argued that administrative procedures prevented them from divulging documents that demean people.
Labor Secretary Marcia Holtman, who was part of last year’s meeting at the governor’s mansion, told lawmakers it was mostly a political discussion and didn’t affect Peters’ filing process because state regulators had already reached an agreement with Peters to fix it. problems with her order. Noam supported this account, although the governor claimed that the agreement with her daughter was not even touched upon during the meeting.
“I think a key part of the issue is the timing of the agreement between the appraiser certification program and Kassidy Peters,” Republican Senator David Wheeler said. “Secretary Holtman said an agreement had already been reached before the meeting at the residence. I just want to confirm that.”
Lawmakers also want to hear from the program’s former director, Sherry Brin. She was called to the July 2020 meeting and later pressed into retirement shortly after Peters received her license in November.
Brin filed an age discrimination complaint and received $200,000 from the state to withdraw the complaint and quit her job this year. Noam said the settlement had nothing to do with her daughter.
The committee had requested Brin’s attendance last month, but she refused. Part of her agreement with the state prevents her from humiliating state officials. However, Brin told The Associated Press that she would work with lawmakers to “correct any factual errors” in Holtman’s testimony before the committee and made clear to lawmakers that she would like a subpoena to appear before them in person.
Republican lawmakers spoke cautiously while questioned in an episode that drew outright mockery of Naim. She repeatedly berated the Associated Press for first reporting the meeting with her daughter.
But Wheeler insisted the commission was acting in its role of monitoring state government operations, adding that it was “appropriate to clear the air of what really happened.”
Other Republicans said they would rather wait to see if the Government Accountability Board, a separate ethics committee of four retired judges, would take the case. The state’s Republican attorney general asked him to take a look at the incident, but it’s unclear whether the House will take over.
Republican Senator Wayne Steinhauer suggested defending the governor when he voted against the subpoenas.
“If you have someone who has … actual experience working with the program, having them in a meeting seems to be appropriate,” he said. “Optics – when you’re a family member – is probably not the best politically, but I just have to try to figure out where we’re going with this.”
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