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Kennecke Catches up with Noem’s Nepotism for Kennedy and Kyle

Nepotism: We're On ItCrack KELO-TV investigative reporter Angela Kennecke is getting around to recycling my consistent coverage of Governor Kristi Noem’s nepotism. Kennecke has finally noticed what I reported on October 1: that in addition to the 2.5% raise that the Governor’s daughter Kennedy received on July 1 along with all other state employees under the new FY2020 budget, the least experienced policy analyst in the Governor’s office snagged another 13% raise:

In July, along with all other state employees, Kennedy Noem got a 2.5% salary boost, bringing her income to $51,250.

…According to South Dakota’s transparency website, Open SD, Kennedy Noem is now making $57,912 a year. That’s a nearly 12% pay increase in five months [Angela Kennecke, “Governor’s Daughter Gets Hefty Raise,” KELO-TV, updated 2019.12.11].

Wait—”nearly 12%”? First, Angela, don’t undermine good reporting with sloppy math. Kennedy’s salary as of October 1, $57,912.50, divided by her listed salary on June 27, $51,250, equals exactly 1.13. In three months, the Governor gave her daughter exactly a 13% raise.

But the larger point is that Governor Noem is asking for all state employees to accept zero raises in FY2021, now that she has locked in a full gubernatorial term’s worth of raises for her daughter. (Noem also made sure her son-in-law Kyle Peters got a 5.0% raise on top of his July 2.5% increase well before she declared budget austerity.) That’s good reason for KELO to ask the Governor why her daughter, for whom this state job is her first employment out of college, is making all this bank:

Governor Noem’s office replied to our questions in an email which reads: “Kennedy Noem’s salary increased after she was assigned more duties. Those duties include more policy work and additional responsibilities. Like most employers, we review compensation on a periodic basis to ensure salary is aligned with job duties.” —Emily Kiel, Communications Director, Office of the Governor [Kennecke, 2019.12.11].

Kennecke rehashes last Session’s debate over Senator Stace Nelson’s rejected anti-nepotism bill. I hope Kennecke is trying to stir the pot and get some legislators to pick up the corruption baton… but given that Stace Nelson has quit the Legislature early and Noem is seeding the Legislature with loyal lackeys, even hard KELO-TV coverage may not move the Legislature to take serious steps against Noem’s naked nepotism.


  1. Kal Lis 2019-12-12 07:54

    It’s easy to see how Kennecke got the math wrong. KELO and the other Sioux Falls television outlets are in the incumbent protection business. They seem to have a 12 fluff pieces to 1 actual news story ratio when it comes to the current incumbents.

  2. Dana P 2019-12-12 08:57

    Hmmmmm, this sounds eerily familiar. Offspring of politician, scores job they aren’t qualified for, and gets hefty paycheck. Where have I heard that complaint before? Cue the lack of GOP outrage in …..

    Nepotism, alive and well. And just like the meth ‘slogan’, Ms Noem and supporters will defend it.

    Well, in Kristi’s own words — I’m glad we are bringing awareness to this issue. Will something be done about it? Unfortunately in this state, probably not.

  3. mike from iowa 2019-12-12 09:58

    Noem is doing sumpin about it. She is reinforcing the rule that nepotism is bad for thee, good for me and mine. She’ll get high marks from blind sheeple.

  4. jerry 2019-12-12 10:25

    Corruption: She’s on it!

  5. chris 2019-12-12 11:13

    Obviously, a “talent retention” bonus.

  6. Porter Lansing 2019-12-12 11:28

    Who cares how much somebody else makes? That’s the brand of zero sum, low self-esteem thinking that keeps South Dakota Republican. Democrats are above that. Your state if flush with money. Sitting on it and expecting people to derive pleasure from not having nice things is why SD’s ranked at the bottom of nearly every category measured.
    Give ’em all Christmas bonuses, too.

  7. bearcreekbat 2019-12-12 11:50

    Porter makes a reasonable point. In addition, calling an individual “unqualified” or criticizing the salary paid to that individual merely because of an accident of birth is unbecoming.

    Indeed, isn’t that exactly what the Trumpistas are doing in their attack on Hunter Biden. Isn’t that also what anti-immigrants argue? Democrats participating in this type of behavior give credence to the naysayers who make the false claim that there is no difference between the parties.

    If Noem violated a law with this hiring she deserves criticism. If we need an anti-nepotism law to exclude people from jobs because they are less qualified than other applicants, that sounds like a reasonable idea.

    But to arbitrarily disqualify someone merely because of something they have absolutely no control over – who gave birth to them, that is a rather detestable policy. Such a policy also would seem to discourage qualified candidates from serving in public office.

  8. Porter Lansing 2019-12-12 12:02

    Gracias, Bear. Feliz Navidad. ~ South Dakota leaders invent priority after priority but never do they even imagine prioritizing “Make South Dakota a Fun Place to Live”. So many other states do. You poor folk are expected to live by the German mantra of “having a good time by denying yourself a good time.” The discipline it takes to just subsist in SD is supposed to be your entertainment. The big fun you get is to tell yourself,
    “I could do that but I’m not going to. Just having the option of doing kinda fun things and deciding not to is good enough for me. Besides, it’ll save me money that I don’t really think I have for fun things.” You wonder where depression and suicides begin? People aren’t genetically constructed to live like that.
    Demand that your legislature enact measures designed to make SD a fun place to live. California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Massachusetts, and Colorado do just that and our economies show it. People want to move to these states because there’re fun things to do after work and on weekends. And, a happy, sharing attitude. If there’s nobody in Pierre that even knows how to prioritize having fun get them the heck outa there and put in the people who do. SD’ers work so darned hard you deserve a break and it IS government’s job to help make it happen.
    In Conclusion … Ask yourselves why South Dakota’s Ellsworth didn’t get the new Space Force Command and Colorado did? It’s worth about a trillion dollars to our economy. It’s because Colorado is where the military would rather have it’s staff stationed. There are fun things to do here, warm welcoming people, and a growth economy.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-12 12:15

    Indeed, Kal Lis. KELO-TV is lucky to have Bob Mercer cranking out stories from the Capitol for the website, but I only read the Web, so I don’t see how much attention his stories get on the broadcast.

    I wonder why it took KELO-TV’s investigative reporter over two months to notice the raises Kennedy and Kyle got.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-12 12:18

    BCB, I don’t criticize the amount paid for the job; I do have to ask why specific positions held by close kin of the Governor are getting raises above the standard 2.5% raise, raises that other state employees do not appear to be receiving.

    I also maintain that it is hard to believe that the most qualified candidates for two top positions in state government just happen to be the Governor’s freshly graduated daughter and her new son-in-law.

  11. Chris S. 2019-12-12 12:27

    No Noem child left behind!

  12. mike from iowa 2019-12-12 12:45

    Dang it, bcb, I am going to have to change my moniker to unbecoming from iowa. We aren’t all better than that.

  13. bearcreekbat 2019-12-12 13:18

    Porter, No hay de que amigo. ¡Igualmente para Navidad!

  14. Ted Dunth 2019-12-12 13:31

    Finally Angela K is doing something then running around promoting her daughters drug filled life. If she put that much time into her daughters life before she died, she might still be alive. Pathetic if you ask me.

  15. Moses6 2019-12-12 14:42

    Keep sending our kids out of state for better paying jobs, include the teacher profession.

  16. Doug 2019-12-12 14:43

    What about our South Dakota teachers? Not on it! Shame on you Governor.

  17. BMSA 2019-12-12 19:32

    I agree that salary rates need to increase in SD. What I find disturbing is the other hardworking and deserving State Employees that would benefit from a 12 or 13% raise. I agree with Porter, South Dakota is flush with money – SHARE – there is enough. And I didn’t realize Noem was looking to ask all state employees to accept zero raises in FY2021. What happened to all those millions Daugaard had tucked away?

    And Noem’s statement ‘we review compensation on a periodic basis to ensure salary is aligned with job duties’…..I’d like to see the percentage of individuals who have actually received increased compensation due to additional job duties. Wonder how ‘periodic’ is defined.

  18. grudznick 2019-12-12 19:51

    Mr/Ms. BMSA, there are, in Mr. Lansing’s weed addled mind, large buckets of money scattered around South Dakota. That could be the case, as I know of some. But those buckets belong to their owners, and it is not their duty to scatter the dollars like the way my neighbor used to blow his leaves in the air so they got swept over the wall and into grudznick’s yard.

    And the millions Mr. Daugaard had tucked away probably got spent. Or perhaps, Mr. Nelson knows where they went. What say you, Mr. Nelson?

  19. Debbo 2019-12-12 22:39

    “Those duties include more policy work and additional responsibilities.”

    That means exactly nothing. Be specific Klueless Kristi. Just what, exactly, does your nepotized daughter do? Just what, exactly, has been added? Tell us specific projects she has researched and what became of them.

  20. Debbo 2019-12-12 22:40

    Ted Dunth, that is a damn rotten thing to say. Rotten to the core. You should be ashamed. 😠😠

  21. Joe Leichtnam 2019-12-12 23:06

    Ted, your comments are rude and uncalled for. Angela has done more to bring the issue of the drug epidemic to the forefront in SD than the Governess’ poorly thought out “we’re on it” campaign will EVER do. She has also fostered working relationships with treatment centers and funds to assist those in need. Get off the (R) only bus and give kudos to Angela for having the strength to get out and tell her tragic story of personal loss

  22. Debbo 2019-12-13 14:54

    What Joe just said.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-13 17:17

    We all should be more worried about Noem’s daughter and the nepotism that’s redistributing our wealth to her pockets. Don’t let Ted turn this into barroom insults. The public policy question that Kennecke and I are reporting is the misuse of power to employ one’s relatives.

  24. Debbo 2019-12-13 18:04

    Saw this tweet and wondered if Jue-Lee-ahh-kne is Klueless Kristi’s role model:


    Here’s something I did not know. But not surprising.

    Guiliani’s son, a failed pro-golfer, is now making $95,000 a year as a Trump ‘adviser’ and liaison to the sports community.

    ‘Mafia in action’:

  25. Robin Friday 2019-12-13 18:19

    In our case (SD) the corruption mentality seems to trickle down just like the economy doesn’t.

  26. Debbo 2019-12-13 20:39

    Well stated, Robin.

  27. Mary Maxwell 2019-12-13 21:29

    Bob Mercer must need the work or he wouldn’t stay in that job that totally wastes his talents!!!! Bob Mercer needs to be an on air reporter. Nobody understands the political game like he does. KELO referring those watching to go to their website and read the segment means that essentially people don’t get what’s beyond what’s said on the air—on any topic. Follow up stories are almost non-existent! Big splash and it’s gone. If you take the trouble to go to the website you can get better info, but I don’t understand why they think that’ a good idea when people want to be spoon fed.

  28. virginia kostanich 2019-12-16 19:55

    Ted Dunth needs to think about what he is saying. He obviously thinks he has answers to other people’s children’s problems. Well, that show to me that he is just a back seat driver. He either had no children, or his wife raised, both him and the kids. NO ONE with any child rearing experience would say the cruel things he is saying. I finish this off with wise words<"Karma will get you."

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-17 05:18

    I hate it when people like Ted distract from policy discussion with cheap personal insults. It opens the door for other people to get off track and focus on the easy personal squabble instead of addressing the larger question of an elected official’s abuse of power. You’d think that Kristi Noem’s nepotism would trigger both interests and keep people focused.

    Governor Noem has given plum jobs and swift raises to her daughter and her son-in-law. That warrants far more anger than a reporter’s efforts to turn personal loss into public awareness of a public health problem. In this case, the reporter is working to raise drug awareness without burning up $1.375 million of taxpayer dollars on a bad slogan from a Minneapolis company, so even if you want to kvetch about the reporter’s anti-drug campaign, you can find more kvetch-worthy activity by the Governor.

    Focus up, people. Noem is a menace on multiple fronts.

  30. virginia kostanich 2019-12-17 07:05

    Whoa, the last statement shows that there may be hope to change South Dakota politics.Yes, it is obvious that Noem doesn’t know a good slogan if it hit her in the face. She also seems more interested in backing her farm truck up to the State coffers, making sure she and her family get it all. I no longer live in South Dakota, but I would suggest that if you all are tired of what has transpired in South Dakota, you WILL rebel, and make the state a little more progressive. Giving all people a leg up, not just Noem’s family.

  31. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-17 07:19

    There we’re getting back on track. Thank you, Virginia, for your attention from afar.

  32. Gwen herman 2019-12-19 11:27

    More policy making and other duties assigned? That’s why Governor Gnome’s daughter was given a 13% salary increase for less than a year on the job? Why wasn’t these included in her original job description when she was hired? This is a slap in the face to our hard working teachers just barely making a living. And, some have been teaching for many years and on a daily basis do other additional jobs. But, they don’t get a raise. Step down Gov. Gnome and take your hard working daughter and son-in-law with you!

  33. Debbo 2019-12-19 13:53

    Gwen, I saw on FB there’s a petition demanding just that, Klueless Kristi’s immediate retirement from Pierre. I didn’t have time for a close look at it. Hmmm. Seems South Dakotans are not very happy with their gov.

  34. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-23 12:46

    People need to waste less time on online petitions and spend more time circulating real petitions with the force of law.

  35. virginia kostanich 2019-12-23 21:15

    South Dakotans somehow need to take all that to the ballot box. Get active. Knock on doors. Make this a campaign to get her out. As you should be doing with other offices. Seems to me you all are not taking this to heart. Even some republican congress people go unopposed, or with people, who don’t have a chance.You have to drag yourselves up by your bootstraps, and, especially women, run for a senate seat, run for congress. It is the only way that Dakota will change from being an old white men office, to something different. Don’t sit in a corner and snivel. Make a difference. YOU can do it.

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