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Herb Jones Leaves Team Noem; Governor’s Daughter, Son-in-Law Get Raises

After less than a year on the job, Herb Jones is leaving his post as Governor Kristi Noem’s chief of staff. Saying he intended all along just to get Noem’s ball rolling (although his appointment last year didn’t sound temporary), the old SDGOP hand marquee-splashes Noem’s magnificent first-year achievements:

“We had some big wins in the first year like improving broadband, expanding pheasant habitat, and ramping up efforts to address the meth crisis” [Herb Jones, quoted in Governor’s Office, press release, 2019.10.01].

Indeed, Herb’s boss has disbursed money for broadband, but she’s relying on federal dollars to get the job done. There’s no evidence yet that she has effectively improved pheasant habitat (and her CAFO bribe program promises to foul other fowl habitat). She’s talking a lot about meth, but I wish her outgoing chief of staff would give us examples of concrete action taken to reduce meth use or provide more addiction treatment.

Maybe the new chiefs of staff—yes, Herb was so good, it takes two people to replace him—will get the chance to give us more details about Kristi’s smashing successes in those areas. Joshua Shields moves up from chief of policy and communications to chief of staff, while Beth Hollatz moves from senior advisor to deputy chief of staff.

And somewhere in the midst of this moving, Kennedy Noem is enjoying a raise.

No, really, the Governor’s daughter has apparently gotten a raise. Recall that Kennedy Noem started drawing a $40,716 salary as a member of her mom’s transition team last November, before she had her SDSU degree in hand. By the time Mom took office, Kennedy was promoted to policy analyst and a $50,000 salary. Just like every other good state government employee, Kennedy received a 2.5% raise on July 1, bringing her to $51,250. Over the last three months of hard policy analysis, Kennedy’s salary has risen exactly 13%, to $57,912.50:

Open.SD.Gov, entry for state employee Kennedy Noem, 2019.10.01.
Open.SD.Gov, entry for state employee Kennedy Noem, 2019.10.01.

The Governor’s son-in-law, Kyle Peters, has also gotten a raise on top of his July boost. The budgeted 2.5% hike brought the junior GOED CAFO booster to $56,375. Sometime since July 1, Peters has gotten another 5% raise, to $59,193.75:

State employee Kyle Peters, salary report, Open.SD.Gov, 2019.10.01.
Open.SD.Gov, entry for state employee Kyle Peters, 2019.10.01.

Both Kyle and Kennedy are making more than state government’s big Number Two, Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, who only makes $56,375. Of course, we all know the LG doesn’t do that much, so no big deal, right? But dang—Rhoden’s son and state employee Reggie has barely gotten a 3.1% raise since April,from $17.45 an hour to $17.99 an hour:

Open.SD.Gov, payroll reports for state employees Larry and Reggie Rhoden, 2019.10.01.
Open.SD.Gov, payroll reports for state employees Larry and Reggie Rhoden, 2019.10.01.

Reggie must be slacking. Come on, son! Pick up the pace!

These family raises appear to predate today’s shake-up; while Herb is already gone and replaced by Joshua and Beth on the Governor’s staff bio page, Open.SD.Gov still lists Herb Jones’s salary at $140,375 a year. If Noem can manage to leave Shields’s and Hollatz’s previous positions unfilled, she could divvy up the pay budgeted for Herb and have Kennedy and Kyle up to six figures by Christmastime! That would clearly be Governor Noem’s greatest achievement of her first year in office.

Note: the other Noem daughter, Kyle’s spouse Kassidy, appears to continue to make a living in the private sector, working for Dakota Plains Appraisal in Pierre.


  1. happy camper 2019-10-02 06:55

    Noem has an aging beauty queen sense of entitlement. Nepotism is just so wrong. Trump got that ball rolling.

  2. Jenny 2019-10-02 07:15

    Kristi and Kennedy, shouldn’t everyone in South Dakota get nice raises like that? What an entitled family working the system like that. All those hard working SD teachers deserve nice raises like that don’t you think, you twits. With republicans, they never give a damn when it comes to the truly hardworking people that work their butts off everyday in SD.

  3. mike from iowa 2019-10-02 07:53

    If Rhoden joins the Tea party, you would place a T behind his name and he would thusly be a Rhodent.

  4. Donald Pay 2019-10-02 08:55

    Reggie Rhoden is being paid less than he should for the job he is doing, while Kyle and Kennedy are vastly overpaid.

    Rhoden’s job involves working to put other people to work. That means finding jobs for people that match their skills and desires, helping them through the job application process and follow on to make sure things are working out for them on the job. That is important work that benefits individual job seekers, employers and the economy of the state.

    Kyle and Kennedy’s work might be important to them, but it has very little impact on individual citizens or businesses. Basically, their jobs could be titled “meeting specialists” in the best light. Mostly it’s a lot of ass kissing of the elites. I’m not sure what the work product is, but you and I don’t get to see it, and it probably has little benefit to anyone but Noem and the elites.

  5. o 2019-10-02 09:11

    To piggyback Jenny’s comments: Just over $40K is a starting teacher salary in my district; however, to get to almost $58K, a teacher needs an MA and 24 years of experience.

    I believe most public employees would echo the difficulty of moving forward with raises over a sustained period of time.

  6. Freda Stubsten 2019-10-02 12:14

    This is so dam sickening!!. I however can vote her out. Please please please. Nepotism at its worst!!!!.

  7. Dennis 2019-10-02 14:15

    I wasn’t one of the Dakotans that put her in the Govenor’s mansion! Shame on her for not actually doing something good for our state!…like teacher salaries 👎

  8. Debbo 2019-10-02 15:57

    Kristi, Kween of Nepotism!

    I think Tantrum Toddler’s disregard for ethics and laws is bleeding over to governments on all levels. We see it in Schaunaman in Aberdeen and Kween Kristi in Pierre. It’s not that he invited political criminality, by any means, but he’s made it acceptable to a certain, morals-free segment of the population. That segment includes the 2 I mentioned, in addition to thieves like Nostrap Allcrap.

  9. mike from iowa 2019-10-02 17:23

    Marlboro Barbie, as the alleged number 2 in the US sinate is being kept in an undisclosed secure location so nothing he says can embarrass Moscow Mitch and Drumpf or himself.

  10. Scott 2019-10-02 17:44

    Honestly, how many people out there are willing to pack up and move to Pierre? About the only people that will do this are family and young people who have yet to establish roots. So yes people can say they do not like this, but it is what it is.

    For people who are not familiar with Pierre, housing is extremely expensive and there is not a lot to do, unless you like to fish. Family members salaries do not seem out of line for someone with a college degree, IMO.

  11. Jenny 2019-10-02 21:43

    Seriously, Scott, Four year college degree Teachers in SD don’t make anywhere near that, unless they’ve been teaching for years. Don’t try to justify nepotism.

  12. Marvin Kelly 2019-10-03 10:01

    Can you say nepotism?

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-03 12:41

    Scott, I will agree that it takes money to coax talent to settle in Pierre. But the family members appear to be getting bigger raises than other state employees. Doesn’t that seem a bit unfair? If anything, I would think you’d have to pay more to get people who don’t already have family in government to come work in Pierre. I mean, come on, Kassidy can be closer to her mom; she doesn’t need extra incentive to stay, does she?

  14. leslie 2019-10-03 15:37

    “…however, to get to almost $58K, a teacher needs an MA and 24 years of experience.” And and R after your nepotistic last name.

    Scott, really? Do you really mean this? other than Sx Falls opportunities and the Black Hills, Pierre/Ft Pierre is lush with more opportunity, recreation, beauty, history and central location (170 miles to RC and like distance to SF) than anywhere else in the state. Nearly. Ever live in Miller? Or Ardmore? Or Platte, water playground of the millionaires (sorry). Lemon? Faith? Canton? Highmore? Ect.

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