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GOP Right Wing Attacks Noem’s Nepotism

Nattering Negators of Nepotism—Nelson, Russell, and Marty form the 2019 opposition party in the SD Legislature.
Nattering Negators of Nepotism—Nelson, Russell, and Marty form the 2019 opposition party in the SD Legislature.

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!”


  1. Kal Lis 2019-01-07 06:59

    If the legislation is crafted properly, this will be both good policy and pass-the-popcorn politics as we will get to watch establishment Republicans scramble to justify a bad practice. It will also be a good test to see how much clout the populist Republican wing has.

    I expect to hear “….but Jared and Ivanka . . .” testimony to defend nepotism. The real fun will be if it passes and gets vetoed. Political bluster vs political back room maneuvering is always entertaining.

  2. Nick Nemec 2019-01-07 07:20

    Senator Stace Nelson continues to remind me why he is my favorite Republican legislator.

    Semper Fi.

  3. Bob Dobbs 2019-01-07 07:34

    Trump with hoop earrings.

  4. Terry Sohl 2019-01-07 07:38

    As Orange Hitler is going to find out, either in 2 years at the 2020 election, or before through impeachment…It is definitely not “god” who removes people like this from office.

    Same mindset here though as Trump. I’ve been “chosen” by a higher power…I can do whatever I want, including putting my daughter in a position she clearly isn’t qualified for.

  5. Dana P 2019-01-07 08:00

    This is great. I rarely agree with Mr Nelson, but this is great. And not just Noem’s daughter. Some other donors got some prime jobs!

    Please don’t take my comments that I’m defending Noem, I’m not! But interesting why now? Never too late I guess, but……. Daugaard appoints son-in-law as his chief of staff (who now has a prime position in the Noem admin, btw) And when Rounds was the governor — holy cow, the nepotism there.

    Why now? Why are people grumbling now? Why does the Noem nepotism light people’s rockets but the Daugaard/Rounds antics got just a shoulder shrug?

    Just curious, that’s all.

  6. mike from iowa 2019-01-07 08:05

    god of the olde testament is a registered Northern Mississippi voter? I want to see his/her/its long form birth certificate.

  7. Rorschach 2019-01-07 08:08

    That $50,000 salary is just a base salary for Kennedy Noem. She also gets free lodging in the Governor’s mansion. But salary is important to a young person just starting out. I’m sure she’ll find herself a $10,000 job in state government in no time.

  8. Rorschach 2019-01-07 08:08

    I meant $100,000 job.

  9. James Srstka 2019-01-07 09:18

    Say it isn’t so!! I just can’t belive this kind of stuff goes on in a state where the people vote in an anti corruption measure and the legislature votes to remove it under the emergency clause.

  10. o 2019-01-07 09:24

    Why is it that the Book of Daniel has been trotted out so much since the Trump inauguration and was referenced so little during the Obama administration? It was actually a sermon on that very topic that has made it almost impossible for me to step foot back into our community’s Catholic Church.

  11. Porter Lansing 2019-01-07 09:49

    Romans 13:1 – “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
    IMO – The Old Testament consists mostly of historical examples of how screwed up things had become (which prompted God to send Jesus to Earth) to set things straight. Using the Old Testament for anything other than “this is poor behavior” is a misplaced attempt at guidance.

  12. Jenny 2019-01-07 10:37

    I like Stace also, he’s the watch dog in Pierre!

  13. bearcreekbat 2019-01-07 11:05

    Good for Nelson. It is refreshing to see him take action on behalf of the people of SD that is consistent with (rather than contrary to) his sworn oath to support the U.S. Constitution’s limitations on the powers of our state government officials.

  14. Buckobear 2019-01-07 11:53

    Was it god that appointed all those Roman emporers and officials (including Pilate)?
    The Old Testament is basically a chronicle (and yes, it has two of ’em) of slaughter and mayhem.

  15. Porter Lansing 2019-01-07 12:04

    @Buck … That’s my point. Did God install the murdering emperors? And, that’s putting it lightly. Besides slaughter and mayhem it’s a chronicle of every sin humanly imaginable. Some believe it to be a guide for their life. All have the choice of what to believe and that’s Christianity. What demographic was Gov. Noem pandering to with such a verse?
    Debbo has effectively stifled the wild whimsical wanderings of Kurt Evans’ Christian rhetoric but I’m sure he’s lurking nearby.

  16. Donald Pay 2019-01-07 13:28

    The Book of Daniel is an example of someone concocting a prophesy from what is actually history. In other words, it’s a con. That’s probably not a great book of the bible to hang your administration on.

  17. Steve Pearson 2019-01-07 14:13

    All of you are completely lost on God. For even though there are awful leaders God uses it for good in many ways. You are probably to blind to see and will just jump on this comment but that is why you all write what you do. You do not understand the Bible or know what it is referencing or how. Your view on God’s sovereignty is flawed.

  18. Steve Pearson 2019-01-07 14:23

    Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

    Paul was specifically writing this to Christians living under Roman rule at the time which was Nero. We all know how awful he was. In Paul’s day, there was no Christian consensus or Christian-based constitutional law. There was no Jewish theocracy, as in the Old Testament. But these principles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, apply to believers down through the ages, living under various forms of government. Contrary to what many Americans may think, the Bible never mandates one type of government over another. While arguably a constitutional democracy with a balance of powers is the best form of government, the Bible does not ordain it or forbid monarchy or other forms of government.

    Because God has ordained government authority for our good, we must be subject to our government.

  19. Steve Pearson 2019-01-07 14:26

    This would be good for all of you to read.

    Specifically notice this: “Furthermore, Romans 13 does not teach that Christians must always obey the governing authorities, no matter what. The one exception to the general rule of obedience is when man’s laws are in direct conflict with the plainly revealed law of God. Examples of God’s people practicing civil disobedience include Peter and John defying the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:19; 5:29), the Hebrew midwives refusing to practice infanticide (Exodus 1:15-17), Daniel ignoring the Persian law concerning prayer (Daniel 6:10), and Daniel’s friends refusing to bow to the king’s image (Daniel 3:14-18).”

  20. Steve Pearson 2019-01-07 14:34

    How the heck is the Book of Daniel a con? Wow. That’s a SMH comment.

  21. o 2019-01-07 14:43

    I was going to comment, but Steve is so busy making the argument – the counter argument – the exception – the clarification – then the absolute (except for the exception) that I cannot see a chance to jump in.

    It also seems that there is plenty of latitude to decide what goes against and defining “God’s law” when it suites the political needs of the right.

  22. Steve Pearson 2019-01-07 15:10

    Where do you see any latitude in God’s law? Come on.

  23. mike from iowa 2019-01-07 15:38

    I do not understand fiction. I don’t try to understand fiction and I don’t pay any attention to those who claim they know fiction.

    But I can clearly see where right wing god is using Drumpf to prove bearing false witness is desirable behavior. Otherwise I shouldn’t wonder why Drumpf isn’t smited with his own jawbone.

  24. Kal Lis 2019-01-07 15:53

    Mr. Pearson,

    I will not presume to speak for o, but I believe the latitude he refers to is the latitude that some seem to take in interpreting scriptural texts. For example, some seem to see the Romans and Daniel verses bandied about in this thread as applicable only Republican leaders. When a Democrat is in power, some conservative folk seem to believe that Psalm 109:8 is an appropriate prayer.

    As someone who did not vote for Obama in 2012 or Trump in 2016, I am a bit confused as to how only Republican leaders are to be seen as established by God whereas those of other parties are to be wished a short reign which implies a quick demise. As I sad, the latitude seems to be in the interpretation not the text.

  25. Steve Pearson 2019-01-07 16:07

    There is nothing wrong with Psalm 109:8 used that way. People can pray to God with their desires. Doesn’t mean it will happen. Either side of the political aisle. No leader is “established” by God. God has given authority to Government. Not a single person. God uses these leaders in positive ways even if they are bad. Just like God will use suffering in positive ways because it exists – not because God created it but because evil happens in this world due to sin. Here in lies the issue, everyone blames God in one way or another in their comments.

  26. Kal Lis 2019-01-07 16:14

    Mr. Pearson,

    Thank you for making my point about latitude of interpretation.

  27. mike from iowa 2019-01-07 16:15

    god, in Drumpf’s case, being Vlad the Inhaler, right? Drumpf has a positive man crush on Putie.

  28. Steve Pearson 2019-01-07 16:17

    No I didn’t. You are interpreting the way you want to believe.

  29. Debbo 2019-01-07 16:25

    Its always interesting to read the various ways people pretzel the bible to suit their understanding. It’s a universal, especially among the most ardent believers. There is no other way to read it due to all the contradictions. It’s the nature of the beast/book. 😏

  30. Randy Amundson 2019-01-07 17:37

    I cannot imagine why a mom would not want her daughter to “learn the ropes” in an environment where mommy is running the show. It seems unfair to the daughter to be the bosses daughter. That’s not a very good way to learn you way in the work a day world. No one can discipline her without there being bad dynamics surfacing somewhere in the equation. Either the supervisor is put in a compromising position, or the daughter is given special treatment, or the mother has to choose between the best interests of the state and her daughter. None of these potential situations bode well for South Dakota. If I were Kennedy Noem, I’d thank mom and decline the appointment. I’d then go out and land a job on my own initiative because of my abilities. But what the heck, I guess it appears easier this way for now.

  31. Porter Lansing 2019-01-07 17:38

    ” It is our God in heaven that puts leaders into place and it is He that removes them.” [Gov. Kristi Noem] Hmmm? Is she now to be known as Gov.Christ-ti Noem?

  32. Randy Amundson 2019-01-07 17:40

    I cannot imagine why a mom would want her daughter to “learn the ropes” in an environment where mommy is running the show. It seems unfair to the daughter to have mom for a boss. That’s not a very good way to learn your way in the work a day world. No one can discipline her without there being bad dynamics surfacing somewhere in the equation. Either the supervisor is put in a compromising position, or the daughter is given special treatment, or even if she isn’t given special treatment there is the accusation, or the mother has to choose between the best interests of the state and her daughter. None of these potential situations bode well for South Dakota. If I were Kennedy Noem, I’d thank mom and decline the appointment. I’d then go out and land a job on my own initiative because of my abilities. But what the heck, I guess it appears easier this way for now.

  33. Sam@ 2019-01-07 17:53

    Nelson for Gov in 2022

  34. owen k reitzel 2019-01-07 19:41

    If people would have voted for Sutton rather then just putting a check by the “R” we wouldn’t be having this problem.
    I like Stace’s bill-but will it go anywhere?

  35. Curtis Price 2019-01-07 19:50

    the zingers are good enough I wish my own party were saying them

    I would cut them a little slack, they are totally at the mercy of the Noem administration, it’s going to be a rough session and it just isn’t worth fluffing the beast.

  36. Curtis Price 2019-01-07 22:16

    Remember Gov Daugaard trashing liberal arts majors?

    I guess the answer is to get your mother to run for Governor.

  37. Matt Bernau 2019-01-07 22:50

    At least the oppressive Amazon sales tax will be put to good use. I wonder if Kennedy knows any of the policy directives of her namesake?

  38. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-08 06:21

    Oh, Curt, I disagree. The party is not totally at the mercy of the Noem administration. Our party isn’t going to get anything from Noem and the GOP majority, no matter how low it lies and bites its tongue. Billie Sutton spent the 2018 Session being gentle and accommodating, and that tempered the GOP attack on him not one iota. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by coming out full-throatedly for the Nelson/Marty anti-nepotism act.

  39. Rough Rider 2019-01-08 15:28

    So why are we surprised by Princess Noem’s Nepotism?

    South Dakota has the second most Corrupt State Government according to

    South Dakota, while it has one of the lowest population densities in the whole of the United States, has an extremely corrupt government. According to Denise Rose’s State Integrity Investigation report, the state does not have an ethics commission, comprehensive state ethics laws, and satisfactory transparency laws. It also does not put effort into requiring public officials, other than its judges, to disclose information about their assets and income. In addition to this, the state law also has a loophole that allows individuals to make unlimited donations to political campaigns. Fortunately, there have been major improvements in the integrity of the state, in the form of online state records.

  40. mike from iowa 2019-01-08 16:50

    What a conundrum, Northern Mississippi has one of the lowest population densities, but some of the most dense populations in terms of seeing/sensing corruption.

  41. Flipper 2019-01-09 18:13

    So, we have a governor who believes that God is the reason she’s in the mansion? We have our own version of Michelle Bachmann. Oh joy.

  42. Jeanne 2019-01-12 21:05

    Wow, just wow. What a hateful page. I thought South Dakotans were above the whining we see on the national level. My daughter is graduating from college this spring – same age as Kennedy. She is a nursing student with a job in the wings. Her starting salary? About $50,000. Kennedy is well-qualified for this job with two internships in DC and one here in SD. Not only has she studied political science/economics, but she has lived it and knows policy well. No nepotism here. A solid hire and win for SD – you watch!

  43. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-13 08:37

    Right-wing hatemongers are great at screaming “hateful!” at sources of honest criticism. Nursing vs. political patronage? Apples to oranges. Kennedy and Kristi know campaigns, not policy. Kennedy’s appointment represents not only nepotism but Kristi’s focus on constantly campaigning, fundraising, and winning elections, not on solving actual problems with policy. That’s not hate (although I find nothing to love in that perversion of public service); that’s just what the Noems stand for: mooch off government and deny the public fair and effective government.

  44. leslie 2019-02-08 20:30

    Wow low 20s Kennedy Noem gets $40k on campaign, now $50k on staff and teenager hubby gets job w/finance office and grdz assured us he is angry that hubby got up graded too. Wow. Kristi is clueless. That goddamned death tax! We owe it to her😀. Didn’t idiots Daugaard AND Rounds do nepotism too?

    Dems in the legislature: RESIST. Make some noise

  45. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-08 20:49

    Leslie, Kristi Noem’s political career originated and remains grounded in her belief that government screwed her family out of their rightful $160K+ in estate tax. For 24 years, she’s been committed to avenging that estate tax by taking the government for every dollar she can get. Appointing her daughter and her incoming son-in-law are just part of taking back money with interest that she thinks she’s entitled to.

  46. Debbo 2019-02-08 21:50

    The more $ and power they have, the more “entitled” they feel.

    America’s true Entitlement Class.

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