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Noem Exploits Churches, Ft. Pierre Non-Profit for Campaign

On Wednesday, Republican candidate for Governor Kristi Noem attended the ribbon-cutting at Gracepoint Wesleyan Church in Brookings and campaigned at their Halloween event. On Saturday, Noem and her Republican counterpart on the U.S. House ballot, Dusty Johnson, are rallying their supporters at the First Assembly of God Church on the edge of town.

I checked with my pastor-wife: she rightly forbids me and any other politician to campaign at her church. I would not consider campaigning at her church. But one week before the election, when everything a statewide candidate who is statistically tied with her opponent does is a campaign event, Kristi Noem is campaigning at two churches.

Noem tried abusing another non-profit last Saturday, but management at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center and Museum put the kabosh on that “unethical” behavior:

Supporters of U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem’s gubernatorial campaign made an unannounced stop on Saturday at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center and Museum in Fort Pierre to shoot campaign footage without permission, says Cindy Bahe, director of the Center.

“It’s unethical,” and maybe illegal, said Bahe, who will meet later today with the nonprofit Center’s board. She said the chairman is “talking to attorneys.”

…Bahe said the Center stays out of partisan politics.

“We are pretty upset by this,” Bahe told the Capital Journal. “We don’t support any candidate for office. We are a nonprofit. This could threaten our 501(c)(3) status.”

Bahe referred to the IRS rule that allows such nonprofits to raise money that is tax-deductible for donors; a usual provision for such nonprofits is that they don’t get into politics [Stephen Lee, “Casey Tibbs Center: Noem ‘Unethical’ in Using Video from Rodeo Center in Governor Campaign,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2018.11.01].

Noem has pulled her campaign post from the Casey Tibbs Center, but she apparently has no qualms about endangering the Brookings Wesleyans and Aberdeen AG-ers’ nonprofit status… because when it comes to Republicans’ craving to win elections, rules don’t matter.


  1. Sharon 2018-11-02 07:25

    She is so bad

  2. Jason 2018-11-02 07:31

    The Church and TIbbs did not get into politics based on the information in this thread.

    How is she bad Sharon?

  3. mike from iowa 2018-11-02 08:35

    Jason the Troll may not act dumb at his day job, but he sure plays dumb on Cory’s blog. maybe he is not acting dumb and is just contrary by nature. Maybe both.

  4. jerry 2018-11-02 08:42

    Jason the, white nationalistic Russian paid troll, there, fixed it for ya mfi. This is his day job, he actually gets paid by the Russian government for his work here and today is paytroll day.

  5. Debbo 2018-11-02 14:35

    Some churches like getting into politics. The more patriarchal they are, the more likely to be into politics too. Note that Noem didn’t try any of the mainstream churches like Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Presbyterians, etc. Those are Christianity focused churches, not politico/religious arms of Pootiepublicans.

  6. Michael L. Wyland 2018-11-02 15:17

    Churches and other 501(c)(3) charities may become involved in political campaigns under current law, under very restricted circumstances.

    Churches and charities are prohibited from endorsing or opposing candidates, and they are prohibited from donating to campaigns. However, they may invite candidates to political forums, hand out voter guides, and engage in other activities as long as the same participation opportunity is offered to all candidates for the same office equally.

    The IRS generally chooses to stay far away from the issue of regulating, much less investigating, issues involving churches and political activity.

    Another issue of charitable participation in political campaigns is the support for the Amendment W campaign this year (and the IM 22 campaign in 2016). is a 501(c)(4) organization that shares revenue, staff, and office space with the 501(c)(3) charity with the same name. Tax-deductible gifts and grants from foundations are given to the charity then transferred to the 501(c)(4) to pay for political activity in support of ballot initiatives/constitutional amendments.

    Whether you think of it as ugly, messy, or just blurry, nonprofits (including churches and other religious congregations) and politics is a complex issue unlikely to be made clearer anytime soon.

  7. Joe Nelson 2018-11-02 20:24

    Meh, doesn’t look like she was handing out flyers, nor didn’t I see any banned for her. I imagine anyone couldnhave shown up to this event, including her opponent. I generally disagree with your statement that anything a candidate does in the week up to an election is campaigning.

  8. Anne Beal 2018-11-02 20:48

    The Johnson Amendment was tinkered with in an executive order signed May 4, 2017.
    Having a political candidate make an appearance at a Trunk or Treat, attend services, say hello to people etc, doesn’t violate it.
    Pastors cannot endorse candidates from the pulpit, and churches cannot give the campaigns money, but that’s about it now. One of the reasons for its continued existence is the concern that the churches can be used for laundering tax-exempt donations.
    As long as the churches aren’t giving any money to the candidate, and the pastor isn’t telling the parishioners to support a candidate, there is nothing wrong with candidates showing up and shmoozing the congregation.

  9. Cheryl 2018-11-05 12:51

    We have to have the separation of church & state! Too many of my ancestors suffered to come here for the freedom of religion. This is a very slippery slope. I wonder if these congregations are seen as just easy sheep like groups – easy prey for the Republicans. Throw in a little abortion speak and fear of that invasion to the south and it’s a shoe in. They need to be reported and tax exempt status taken away.

  10. Debbo 2018-11-05 19:44

    “easy sheep like groups – easy prey for the Republicans.”


  11. Jason 2018-11-05 22:41

    Cheryl and Debbo demonstrate the ignorance of the population of America.

    Michael and Anne took the time to educate. (I didn’t).

    And yet, they make these ignorant comments.

    Even Cory wasn’t dumb enough to say she broke the law.

    He was just another politician and used the word “exploit”.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-06 06:17

    Jason is just another politician, trying to manipulate words and opinion to drive voters toward his preferred vision of the polis.

    Al Novstrup would scold Jason for calling names and denigrating everyone he disagrees with.

  13. Jason 2018-11-06 07:01


    I’m not a politician and I didn’t call anyone names.

    You are misleading people by implying a law was broken when it wasn’t.

  14. Russ stubbles 2018-11-07 00:46

    Right on. Noem has no standard. And neither did those two churches. So
    Disgusting. SD wake up!!!!! You have been had.

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