South Dakota Ethics Commission Pushes Noem Investigation

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, South Dakota (AP) — On Wednesday, the South Dakota government’s Ethics Commission launched an investigation into two complaints against Gov. Christy Noem. petition.

Noem, a 2024 White House candidate, is under state oversight. Government Accountability Committee to allegations that she misused the authority of her office interfere with her daughter’s application real estate appraiser license Flying on state-owned aircraft for political events. She denied any wrongdoing.

As Attorney General Jason Ravensborg We filed a complaint against Noem last year. Fellow Republican Ravensborg was removed from office on impeachment in June for his actions over an unrelated car accident that killed a pedestrian. he kept complaining as a private person.

After meeting in a closed-door executive session lasting about an hour, the three retired judges on the board evaluating the complaint voted unanimously to deny the governor’s request to dismiss the complaint. They then voted to give themselves an extension of 60 days “for further investigation” to assess the merits of the complaint.

Ravnsborg said he was “satisfied” with the commission’s continued investigation, adding that “the people of South Dakota deserve to know the truth about these two issues.”

Noem’s office is prohibited from commenting on the board’s actions under state law, citing laws that keep board files confidential unless the board decides to hold a public hearing in a disputed case. said to violate

The governor’s request to the board and the attendance of Noem’s attorneys for the first time showed a willingness to take action to see the complaint dismissed. may conduct criminal investigations, subpoena evidence and witnesses, or ultimately hear contested cases.

Government Accountability Committee took steps to insulate oneself out of conflicts of interest while addressing issues involving the state’s most powerful politicians. Noem’s nominee, David Gilbertson, his former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, declined to evaluate the complaint. Commission attorney Katie Mullery was denied advice to the Commission because she works for the Attorney General’s Office.

State law requires that criminal investigations be referred to the Criminal Investigation Service if the commission determines that a violation of law may have occurred. This puts the investigation under the oversight of Mark Burgo, the interim Attorney General appointed by Noem after Ravensborg was sacked. The Commission may also choose to summon witnesses or hear the contested case if it determines there may be “misconduct” rather than a crime.

In a statement, Vargo said, “Decisions regarding the denial of either DCI or general office are made when the problem is presented head-on, not in advance of possible hypothetical circumstances.”

Kathleen Clarke, a law professor specializing in government ethics at Washington University in St. Louis, said prosecutors shouldn’t necessarily decline to investigate the person they appointed. But while the board’s investigation was already underway, the timing of Vargo’s appointment served as an additional reason for her decline, she said.

“Failure to repudiate would undermine the credibility of the decision in favor of Noem, especially given that Noem appointed this attorney general after the investigation began,” Clark said.

Noem has also forged a political partnership with likely-to-be next Attorney General, Republican Marty Jackley, and the two exchanged endorsements earlier this year.

Ravnsborg has since indicated that he is more willing to file a complaint against Noem. they fell in his fatal car accident And she pressed for his impeachment.

Ravnsborg’s first complaint came after The Associated Press reported The governor took a hands-on role with state agencies shortly after he moved to refuse to license his daughter Cassidy Peters as an appraiser in 2020, he said. Republican-controlled legislative committee It concluded that Peters’ application received special treatment, but did not say whether Noem’s actions were appropriate.

Sherry Bullen, director of the appraisal certification program, was pressured into resigning shortly after Peters received her license and eventually received a $200,000 settlement from the state to withdraw her age discrimination complaint. I was.

former Attorney General’s Other Complaints After the news website caught fire raw story Noem found himself using state planes in 2019 to travel to events hosted by political organizations such as the National Rifle Association and the Republican Jewish Coalition. South Dakota law prohibits state aircraft from being used for nonstate operations.

Noem said he was attending the event as an ambassador for the state.