Happy inauguration, says Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) as he rounds up the Republican wing of the South Dakota Republican Party to blast Governor Kristi Noem’s nepotism. On Sunday, Senator Nelson, Senator Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs), and Representative Sam Marty (R-28B/Prairie City) announced they are bringing a bill “aimed at ending the long sordid history of state officials hiring their relatives.” This bill is well-timed, since Noem gave her daughter Kennedy a $40K job on her transition team, then made sure Kennedy got one of the plum permanent “policy analyst” jobs in her office. (Kennedy Noem’s salary has been raised from $40K on the transition team to $50K on the Governor’s staff. Not bad for a gal who just finished her liberal arts degree last month.)
Like much of what Trumpists say, the Nelson/Russell/Marty press release lacks specifics (and there’s no anti-nepotism bill in the hopper yet) but lays on the zingers… although in this case, the zingers are good enough I wish my own party were saying them:
The primary sponsor and co-author of the bill, Senator Stace Nelson (R-Fulton), is reporting that he was contacted by South Dakotans who were outraged that the practice was being perpetuated under Noem’s administration. Nelson stated the voters angrily cited what they described as Noem’s hypocritical campaign promises to clean up corruption in Pierre in their inquiries with him. “The critics of this are right. Retrieving the integrity of our state employment process, from the damage done by such actions in the past, is the respect we owe the taxpayers and the thousands of hard working state employees across South Dakota. State employment, promotions, retention, and opportunities should not be based off political family power, but solely on merit.”
…The House sponsor, Sam Marty (R-Prairie City) stated “Nepotism is an underhand form of corruption and I don’t like it one bit. South Dakotans deserve better from their state government” [Sen. Stace Nelson, Sen. Lance Russell, and Rep. Sam Marty, press release, 2019.01.06].
On Saturday, Governor Noem led off her inaugural speech by claiming that the God of the Old Testament made her Governor:
It is a great privilege and a solemn honor to serve as this state’s chief executive. It is one that do not take lightly because I believe that, as the Old Testament book of Daniel states, it is our God in heaven that puts leaders into place and it is He that removes them [Gov. Kristi Noem, inaugural address, Pierre, SD, 2019.01.05].
When the Nelson/Marty anti-nepotism bill reaches committee, I look forward to the Governor sending her daughter to Senate State Affairs to testify, “This isn’t nepotism! God told Mom to hire me!”