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Ethics complaints against Noem to be discussed in May

April 19, 2022 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A board that investigates complaints against South Dakota officials is scheduled to take up a pair of ethics complaints against Gov. Kristi Noem in May.

Noem had until last Friday to respond to complaints alleging she misused state airplanes for personal use and that she improperly interfered with a state agency that was evaluating her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license.

Neither Noem nor members of the South Dakota Government Accountability Board would say whether Noem responded by the deadline, the Argus Leader reported.

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Noem has insisted she has done nothing wrong.

The board is scheduled to discuss both complaints at its May 2 meeting in Sioux Falls.

The board keeps the details of the complaints secret unless it decides they warrant a public hearing. In the past, it has dismissed complaints without requiring the targeted officials to respond to them.

Assistant Attorney General Katie Mallery, who serves as the board’s liaison, said Noem’s April 15 deadline remained in place, though she declined to say whether any response or responses were received by the board.

Noem’s spokesman, Ian Fury, said the confidential nature of the board’s work prohibits him or the governor from answering questions related to the complaints.

Members of the Government Accountability Board, which was created in 2017, are appointed by the governor with consent of the state Senate. Noem’s lone appointment on the board, retired South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson, has been abstaining from voting on complaints involving her.

Noem is accused of repeatedly using state-owned airplanes for personal travel since taking office in 2019. She has also faced repeated allegations that she abused her authority to give an advantage to her daughter, who’d been struggling to become certified as a state real estate appraiser through the Department of Labor and Regulation.

Former director of the state appraiser certification program, Sherry Bren, abruptly retired in March 2021, months after a closed-door meeting with Noem and her daughter.