South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem took to social media to deny that there was anything improper about a meeting she held last year with her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and the head of a state office that had decided to deny Peters’ application to become a certified real estate appraiser — then reversed its decision months after the meeting.
In the nearly three-minute video posted on Noem’s YouTube channel, the governor denied that she asked for “special treatment” for Peters and said her daughter “followed all the same steps as other appraisers” such as undergoing 200 hours of appraisal education and passing exams under the Appraiser Qualifications Board.
Noem also claimed she had been working to fix the “broken” system of the real estate appraiser certification process for years, which she said had extended wait times for South Dakota residents trying to get a home in the state.
She implied that Sherry Bren, head of the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program — who claims she was pressured to retire last year after meeting with the governor — had been a part of that system, and that efforts to streamline the certification process were unsuccessful under her tenure.
Noem did not say what transpired during the meeting between her, Peters and Bren.
Noem told Bren to come to her office for a meeting a few days after the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program had moved to deny Peters’ application for the license, according to the Associated Press. Four months after the meeting, Peters received the license. One week after Peters was certified, the labor secretary reportedly called Bren to demand her retirement. Bren filed an age discrimination complaint against the department. She eventually left her position in March and withdrew her complaint after the state paid her $200,000. In response to the report, a spokesperson for Noem said “Associated Press is disparaging the Governor’s daughter” in an effort to “attack the Governor politically.” The state Department of Labor and Regulation has maintained Peters’ application was never denied.
The state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg and state lawmakers have said they will look into the meeting. The state legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee will examine the matter at the end of October.
One South Dakota lawmaker, Rep. Erin Healy has accused Noem of “corruption,” saying on Twitter, “our tax dollars should never be spent on $200,000 bribes to cover the Governor’s and DOL’s wrongdoing.” She claims the meeting between Noem, Peters and Bren appears to be “a serious offense” and “should be investigated thoroughly.”
As daughter sought state license, Noem summoned agency head (Associated Press)
South Dakota AG reviewing Noem’s meeting with daughter (Associated Press)