Sioux Falls, SD (AP) —The four retired judges that make up South Dakota’s Government Accountability Commission usually meet only a few times a year, almost completely unnoticed, and go to hearings. I have never filed a complaint.
They are currently preparing for a high-profile task of assessing whether Governor Kristi Noem has abused the power of her office twice.
The board is only four years old, founded by the state legislature under public pressure to reform the state government’s ethics. Dismissed most complaints without hearing because they deviated from the specific purpose of “considering and investigating allegations of illegal activity” by officials or government employees who have state-wide offices, totaling We met 17 times.
What is your claim to NOEM?
Prosecutor Jason Lawnsborg, a Republican like Nome but not an ally of the governor, has referred two issues to the board.Initially Investigation request from Democratic Party lawmakers Whether it was against the law for Nome to use a state-owned plane. The other is The governor interfered with a state agency that was evaluating his daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license...
Nome, who was bid on the White House in 2024, denied cheating and dismissed the case as a political attack.
Members of both Republicans and Democrats following the Associated Press report that the Governor had met with both her daughter and the director of a state agency that moved to reject her application for appraiser status. Concerns have increased.
What can the board do?
It has a wide range of powers. At a personal meeting, you can dismiss an ethical complaint without appointing a person to complain about. If you decide to continue the investigation, you can summon evidence or witnesses or request the criminal investigation department to start the investigation. If a breach is found, the Board can take a wide range of actions, from issuing personal reprimands to requesting coursework and community services.
“This will be a real test of this new board. It’s something we didn’t expect, but it’s certainly appropriate,” said former Democrat Karen Sori. Led the effort to create the board..
Why was the board created?
Sori proposed a board of directors in 2017 and received enthusiastic support from Republican lawmakers. Under pressure from voters After abolishing the Voter Passing Act, which reviewed the ethical law. According to Sori, the promotion of ethical reform came after a series of state government scandals. It culminated in 2015 A couple died of murder-suicide after stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a government program.
The board is bipartisan. Nome has appointed one of its members, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, David Gilbertson.For many years Gilbertson was a registered Democrat, but he He told AP last year that he had switched party affiliation independently...
“It’s made up of people who have the right judgment and the ability to say nothing here, or need to be scrutinized,” promoted the Council’s proposal as Speaker of the House in 2017. Mark Mickelson, who helped with this, said. Republican-controlled parliament.
If a member of the board resigns, Nome will appoint a replacement. When asked how the governor would handle it, Governor spokesman Jordan Overturf said, “I can’t comment on the hypothesis.”
How does the board proceed?
It’s not clear. The Board has established procedures to request an investigation to begin with an ethical complaint, but has never been referred by the Attorney General’s office.
Attorney General spokesman Tim Bowman said the office “does not monitor the work of the government’s accountability committee.”
He also refused to comment on whether the office sent the document to the board.
Mr. Oberturf said Nome’s office had not received any complaint notices from the board of directors. When the board receives a written complaint, it will notify the person accused of fraud within 15 days and that person will respond within 15 days.
Katie Mallery, a deputy attorney assigned to assist with board procedural issues, said the board did not schedule a meeting and decided how to handle referrals from lawyers. Said not. We usually schedule meetings within 30 days of receiving a complaint.
When it meets, the four retired judges will surely welcome the audience.
“Something like this could hold the governor accountable, but I certainly didn’t imagine it in my life,” Sori said. “God blesses those four — they are working hard in front of them.”