Hearing Republican legislators Al Novstrup and Lana Greenfield passionately defend nepotism at Aberdeen’s February 2 crackerbarrel reminded me that I should see how Kristi Noem’s family and friends are faring in their state jobs.
Future Noem son-in-law Kyle Peters is sticking close to the family. After maybe a month working as finance officer and Legislative liaison for new State Treasurer Josh Haeder, Peters has moved over to work in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Hmmm… maybe you only get to marry one of the Noem girls if Mom gets to keep an eye on you all day long.
Peters has already earned a raise from his January salary of $53,000 to a current listing on Open.SD.gov at $55,000. A month on the job, $2,000 raise… hey hey! at that rate, he could be bringing home over $1,800 more each month than when he started in state government one month ago. A 40% raise in one year—I’ll bet Kyle never would have seen his salary grow like that at Plains Commerce Bank!
Filling at least one of Peters’s shoes is Nick Stensaas, who is now listed second on Treasurer Haeder’s management staff webpage as finance officer and project manager. According to his LinkedIn profile, Stensaas just started working on an accounting degree at Northern last year. The Treasurer’s website says Stensaas’s old position, cashier/administrative assistant, is open. Open.SD.gov says Stensaas is only getting $45,000 a year, $8,000 less than his predecessor Peters. Mrs. Maggie Stensaas is making $46,754.40 strategically communicating for the state Department of Agriculture.
Not partaking in the Noem nepotism fest in Pierre is Matt McCaulley. After leading Kristi Noem’s transition and making $8,000 a month, McCaulley declined to seek some Second Floor sinecure and went back to making an honest living as a lobbyist. The Secretary of State’s lobbyist registry shows McCaulley has 13 separate lobbying contracts.
Sanford Health, T-Mobile, RAI (that’s Reynolds American Incorporated, Big Tobacco)… that’s good money, I’m sure, especially when a lobbyist can turn to his clients and say, “You know the Governor who’ll be signing your bills? I told her where the pens are.”
Speaking of which, Senator Stace Nelson brought Senate Bill 109 to Senate State Affairs today seeking to make well-connected folks like McCaulley take a little longer breather before jumping back into the paid lobbyist pool. SB 109 would have expanded the two-year sit-out period from lobbying to include gubernatorial transition team members and employees of the state court system. “No, no, no, we can’t do that!” said the seven Republicans on the committee, ensuring that Kristi’s pal Matt can continue to make a living in Pierre.