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Noem Resigns from Governor’s Office; Alas, Mom Remains

One unqualified Noem down, one to go....
One unqualified Noem down, one to go….

Kennedy Noem’s resignation from her mom’s staff has me Buridanly trapped among equally tasty leading lines. So let’s just eat all the hay:

Departing a gubernatorial administration marked by frequent turnover, the Governor’s younger daughter announced online this week that she’s moving to Tennessee to get her master’s degree in business administration. Evidently South Dakota’s “new opportunities,… wide open spaces and low population” aren’t enough to keep Kennedy down on the South Dakota policy farm.

Kennedy’s opportunities came thanks to naked nepotism. Kristi Noem promoted her daughter Kennedy in fall 2018 from a paid position in her successful gubernatorial campaign to a $40,000 spot on her transition team before Kennedy finished her undergraduate degree at SDSU. Kennedy’s pay bounced up to $50,000 within just a couple months as she stayed in the Capitol as a “policy analyst”. Kennedy got the administration-wide 2.5% raise in July 2019 plus another 13% boost that put her at $57,912.50 annually. Kennedy leaves with a final annual salary of $59,070.75.

Kennedy Noem closing state salary, screen cap 2020.08.01.
Kennedy Noem closing state salary, screen cap 2020.08.01.

I don’t have all the timing perfect, but I estimate we paid Kennedy over $90,000 to help her mom come up with bad ideas. Kennedy had the opportunity for free room and board at the Governor’s mansion, which her mom inhabits only part-time. If she was smart and saved a big chunk of her state paycheck, Kennedy could cover the full program fee at, say, University of Tennessee–Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business (16-month program, $49,500) out of pocket.

In-state graduate tuition and fees per credit hour in South Dakota are $233 per credit hour. USD’s MBA program requires 33 credits, plus up to 18 credits in foundational business courses for entrants lacking business background.

Kennedy’s departure leaves just one other Noem clan member, Kyle Peters, husband of older daughter Kassidy Noem, on the state payroll. Kyle’s pay has grown from his starting salary of $53,000 in the Tresurer’s office near the beginning of the Noem Administration to $60,377.63 in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development today.


  1. grudznick 2020-08-01 08:58

    How many Rounds’s and Kneips are still soaking up the spillage from the tax dollars?

  2. ska sunka 2020-08-01 09:26

    What does it say when the Governor’s own daughter doesn’t pursue her graduate degree in-state? Stanford? Sure. Harvard? You betcha. But UT Knoxville? Something is a little fishy here.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-08-01 11:07

    I cite UT–Knoxville as an example. Noem has not stated publicly which school she is attending.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-08-01 11:23

    …but Tennessee’s Congressman from the highly gerrymandered 4th District, Scott DesJarlais, is a Sturgis native who rode into Congress on the Tea Party wave in 2011. DesJarlais’s district includes Murfreesboro, where Middle Tennessee State U offers and MBA… but the front page of MTSU’s website opens with a picture of their exec wearing a mask, so Kennedy can’t be going there. UT–Knoxville is requiring masks, too, just like our Regental institutions… so let’s see if Kennedy is looking for a mask-optional campus.

  5. chris 2020-08-01 14:59

    Take the money and run. My bet is on Belmont.

  6. Debbo 2020-08-01 15:46

    Liberty U and Jerry Fake-Christian Falwell!

  7. Jake 2020-08-01 17:33

    South Dakota GOP hierarchy will react just like their 3 heroes in Congress and Moscow Mitch-simply not a whimper or whisper of any wrong doing by cowgirl Kristi. She wants to be the Trumpista of the Prairie and grifting she learns from idolizing her hero Trump who idolizes Putin.

  8. leslie 2020-08-01 17:37

    Nursing a grsz from that ancient Administration, eh? Whine much?

  9. Donna Palmlund 2020-08-01 19:00

    That headline grabbed me!

  10. leslie 2020-08-01 19:05

    New York Times
    Jul 31
    James Murdoch resigned from the board of News Corp, severing his formal ties to his father’s media empire over disagreements about editorial content

    Maybe he and Kennedy both have spine in the face of nepotistic grifter parents amoral Rupert Murdoch and Kristi Noem.

  11. Ska sunka 2020-08-01 23:07

    The same DesJarlais, who as an anti-abortion zealot, encouraged his girlfriend (While married, mind you) to abort his love child? Yeah, sounds about right.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-08-02 13:47

    I wonder if Kennedy is declaring that she does not plan to capitalize on her name and run for office here in South Dakota. After all, when Matt Varilek ran against her mom in 2012, Kristi and the SDGOP made clear that anyone who goes to college out of state is some sort of elitist traitor who isn’t fit to represent the people of South Dakota.

  13. Joe 2020-08-02 23:14

    Tennessee is a random place for a young person from South Dakota to land for their MBA. If Kennedy got into Vanderbilt, well good for her. My bet is on private, Jesus-y, and much less selective Belmont.

  14. jerry 2020-08-03 07:52

    Probably some arranged marriage so she won’t have to “work” on anything but having kids that will do the same to work on pedigree’s not a real degree’s.

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