Someone finally asked Governor Kristi Noem whether she had discussed Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden’s presence at the lobbyist house party at which Senators Brock Greenfield and Kris Langer got drunk and then returned to the Senate inebriated and cast votes while inebriated, bringing discredit upon themselves and the entire Legislature. Governor Noem avoided the question:
Asked whether she had talked to Rhoden about his presence at the house, Noem said, “The lieutenant governor and I talk all the time, but that issue, I’m not going to weigh in on” [Bob Mercer, “New Loophole for Guns and Ammo Didn’t Keep S.D. Governor from Expanding Emergency Act,” KELO-TV, 2020.05.01].
Now I assume she’s saying she’s not going to weigh in on Rhoden’s facilitation of drunk and disorderly Senators in public, because the notion that she would not weigh in on it privately with her right-hand man is ludicrous. Her lieutenant governor was present at an unseemly event that could have, in a normally functioning political system, led to two Senators losing their jobs. (State employees behaving the way Senators Greenfield and Lanfer did would lose their jobs: the South Dakota State Employee Handbook, on its first meaningful page, lists “being under the influence of a controlled drug or alcohol at work” as ground for disciplinary action, including termination. The state’s Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workplace Policy prohibits drinking alcohol at mealtime during working hours.) That’s the kind of scandalous behavior that might not dent a Republican’s electability in our small state’s one-party regime but would clearly raise red flags in any Vice-Presidential search or other Beltway aspiration subject to national media scrutiny. With her attention so keenly focused on winning positive hi-def national press to speed her return to Washington glamour, she would set aside all of her economic data and other detailed policy briefing materials (ha!) and skip right to grilling Rhoden about what he knew about Greenfield and Langer’s drunk revels and how much he himself participated therein so she could be ready for any propaganda countermeasures she’d need to take to insulate herself from his stupidity.
But for now, with Senators choosing not to hold Greenfield and Langer accountable for their disreputable and irresponsible behavior and avoiding any inquiry into Rhoden’s role, Noem needs no countermeasures beyond, No Comment.