South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Defends Daughter’s Licensure
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday defended his administration’s handling of his daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser’s license, attempting to dismiss questions about a meeting she held last year and which included his daughter, Kassidy Peters, and the government employee who oversaw his candidacy.
“I have never once asked for special treatment for Kassidy,” the Republican governor said in a video posted to YouTube days after The Associated Press first reported on the meeting. “She’s my daughter and I’m proud of her. I raised her to do things on her own.
The meeting took place after the Department of Labor and Regulation decided to deny the license to Peters. Four months later, in November 2020, Peters received her certification as a residential assessor, according to the department.
A week after Peters received his license, the state employee who ran the agency was reportedly forced to retire by Noem’s cabinet secretary. State employee Sherry Bren ultimately received a payment of $ 200,000 from the state to withdraw an age discrimination claim and quit her job.
The state attorney general, along with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, are looking into the episode.
Until the video, Noem had issued limited statements about the meeting, calling the PA report a political attack and insisting that she was not seeking special treatment for her daughter.
In the video, Noem did not mention the July 2020 meeting in his office or that the agency had indicated that it would deny Peters his license. Noem said Peters went through the same steps as the other assessors, taking 200 hours of classroom instruction and gaining over 1,500 hours of experience over the course of over a year.
The Department of Labor and Regulation has rejected an application to register the PA for agreements between the agency and Peters that would shed light on the progress of Peters’ application and the compliance of its samples of work to federal standards.
Although the ministry acknowledged that these files indicate that they are open to public inspection, the agency’s lawyer argued that they were exempt. An appeals office later ruled that the department was correct in denying the files.
However, Brad Johnson, a Watertown assessor, was annoyed by the department’s decision to withhold the documents.
“Any reviewer understands that anything we sign with the state of South Dakota can be public,” he said.
Noem, 49, has generated speculation about a possible 2024 presidential bid by forming a federal political action committee, helping campaigns across the country and attending many of the same events as other hopefuls potentials of the GOP. Although Noem has said she is focused on her re-election in 2022 and has not publicly indicated that she is planning a White House candidacy, she has visited Iowa’s major presidential campaign states, from New Hampshire and South Carolina, and showed a willingness to strike at potential rivals.
In a statement released with the video on Friday, the governor’s office said the shortage of assessors was a national problem that had been exacerbated in South Dakota due to obstacles to obtaining certification. In the video, the governor said that since her daughter’s certification she had made “changes to the process to streamline it for the future.” The certification program no longer requires people seeking an entry-level license to take a test.
“My administration started fixing this process and it was way too difficult,” she said. “Appraisers were not certified and South Dakotas had to wait much longer to buy a home than in other states.”
However, the governor’s ability to modify the program is limited as the state must meet federal standards for the certification of assessors.
In its statement, the governor’s office included quotes from three real estate professionals who praised Noem’s decision.
“It’s far too difficult for young people to get into this field,” said Brian Gatzke, a Brookings assessor who is a political supporter of the governor and has donated to his congressional and gubernatorial campaigns.
However, Johnson, the Watertown assessor, said the governor’s “apparent interference” in licensing his daughter has worried other assessors in the state. Federal regulators are currently auditing the certification program, raising concerns that if they find anything wrong it could affect anyone with a South Dakota assessor license.
“Any appearance that something is wrong with our appraiser certification program puts a black eye on the industry and we don’t like it,” he said.