Crack 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.