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Rhoden Now Receiving Full-Time Salary for Lt. Gov.

Who is benefitting from Governor Kristi Noem’s absence? Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden.

According to data from the Bureau of Finance and Management, when Larry Rhoden rode into Pierre with the Noem Administration to take his post as Lieutenant Governor, he took the post at the same sensible part-time status as his humble predecessor, Matt Michels, who had fiddled with full-timing early in the Daugaard Administration but decided after a year that his family and the rest of South Dakota should stick with our tradition of part-time second-fiddles. Rhoden’s starting salary as of January 5, 2019, was $55,000 a year, a bit less than half of the Governor’s salary and 20% less than was proposed in Daugaard’s FY2019 budget. Rhoden received the 2.5% state-employee raise on June 9, 2020, bringing him up to $56,375 for banging the Senate gavel and helping Senator Langer find her shoes.

But when Governor Noem promoted Rhoden to moonlight as Interim Secretary of Agriculture, Rhoden’s pay jumped, as of May 24, 2020, to $126,075. That’s the Ag Secretary’s salary reported in Noem’s FY 2020 budget proposal plus 2.5%… which says that Rhoden wasn’t doing anything as Lieutenant Governor anyway, so just give him the full Secretary’s salary for his interim rein at Ag, and that’s fine.

On June 9, Rhoden received the 2% state-employee raise to $128,596.50.

But when Noem ended Rhoden’s lucrative interim-acy by putting Hunter Roberts in charge of Ag and announcing her devious plot to bury the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the all-business Ag Department, she did not end Rhoden’s lucre. She has evidently decided that she needs a full-time right-hand man. As of October 9, Rhoden was designated in BFM’s books as “Full-Time Lt. Governor” and given an annual salary of $104,000. That’s 87.6% of Noem’s salary (but she also gets free housing, unlike Larry, who has to call or truck in from the ranch at Union Center).

During the 2018 campaign, Noem and Rhoden distinguished themselves from the Democratic opponents by saying a part-time Lieutenant Governor makes for better government:

“South Dakota has long benefited from a citizen legislature, with individuals who serve the public part-time but continue working outside of Pierre. In a Noem administration the lieutenant governor would serve part-time,” Noem spokeswoman Brittany Comins said.

“Larry Rhoden would fulfill the lieutenant governor’s duties in presiding over the state Senate and play a key part in helping advance Kristi’s agenda. He would do so while continuing to operate his family’s ranch near Union Center,” Comins said [Bob Mercer, “Sutton Noem Have Different Plans as Lieutenant Governor Takes Office,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.07.08].

Funny: Noem promised us a full-time Governor and a part-time Lieutenant Governor; now, apparently, we have the reverse.

It’s hard to say what Rhoden is doing in his new full-time capacity. He’d probably be more useful and would have more fun serving in Noem’s security detail. He’s supposedly going to spend more time promoting ag, but has Rhoden ever had much of use to say about anything else? If Rhoden is doing anything like full-time work, it isn’t making much news. He presided among the maskless meatheads at the Special Session October 5. Rhoden drove down to Wall for some business hobnobbing this month, and he’s supposed to speak to the Stockgrowers’ Convention in Rapid City next weekend, but that’s all the mention of Rhoden I can find in the Google news search.

Larry Rhoden (right) at "Sportsmen's Showcase," SIoux Falls, SD; photo from Lt. Gov. Rhoden, FB, 2020.12.24.
Our full-time Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden (right) hard at work at “Sportsmen’s Showcase,” Sioux Falls, SD; photo from Lt. Gov. Rhoden, FB, 2020.12.24.

Rhoden’s Facebook feed shows more disregard for indoor masking and social distancing, so he’s at least keeping up the Governor’s determined public relations campaign against taking action against coronavirus. He went maskless at the Governor’s big Sioux Falls flop last weekend and at a Codington County GOP event on October 9. But Rhoden makes no mention of any real work as Lieutenant Governor.

I’d like to think that Rhoden’s boost in salary of his actually picking up the slack his boss is leaving in Pierre as she campaigns around the country to boost her celebrity and her campaign kitty. But it appears Rhoden’s promotion to full-time, against the promises of his and Noem’s 2018 campaign, is simply an acknowledgment within the Capitol that if Kristi deserves a full-time salary for part-time work, so does Larry.


  1. jerry 2020-10-31

    The forked tongue of GNOem and Loopy Larry only prove how absolute the corruption goes in South Dakota politics. EB5 Short Rounds showed them all how to literally kill and get by with it with an even better more lucrative scam. Dirty Johnson taught them how to giggle and get elected and then quit to move to an even better opportunity to enrich himself.

    Anyone know how much of a slush fund the Wayfair has bought to South Dakota? There is so much money that can be scammed here that it needs leaders like these two to disperse it to the rest of the made men of organized crime.

  2. grudznick 2020-10-31

    The Rhoden Rhangers have long advocated for the Lieutenant Governor to be in charge of more of the security details. Can you imagine when some fellow in Maine, or Aberdeen even, pulls a knife or twirls a baton or waves a sharp stick that could poke an eye out and ends up on the receiving end of a Rhoden Gut-Punch! That would put an end to any future interlopers nefarious ideas in less time than it takes Mr. Rhoden to crush a steel beer can on his forehead.

    It is a wonderful idea to have him full time on the job, as he no doubt steers much of the government and legislatures behind the scenes with his sage advice. I have heard it is said that most of the Council of the Legislatures’ Research operations are done by Mr. Rhoden himself before the afternoon sessions each day. grudznick says we should pay Mr. Rhoden even more money and get rid of a bunch of dead wood employees. It won’t even take a Rhoden Gut-Punch to scare them off, all he’ll need to do is wink at them with his left eye.

  3. 96Tears 2020-10-31

    The salaries for Governor and Lt. Governor in South Dakota are ridiculously low. I will dispense with my usual snark here. If we expect professional, dedicated results, then the state should pay the positions what they are worth. If not, well, just look. You get what you pay for.

    Yes, I know this argument has been used to boost legislators’ salaries, and today we have a bumper crop of dummies and losers in the Senate and House. My point is the Guv and the LG are the CEOs of South Dakota governance. One of the reasons dorks like COVID Kristi and Mike Rounds get elected to that position is people vote their party affiliation and don’t have very high expectations of the CEO. Pay enough to attract more talented candidates for this highest office, voters should be able to select from better choices.

    It also puts a fire under the voters to be pickier about who gets the job and is paid those higher, more competitive salaries.

    My 2 cents for the day.

  4. mike from iowa 2020-10-31

    96 Tears until Northern Mississippi makes a determined attempt to clean up one party rule, why should anymore taxpayer monies go to trough swilling, barely qualified wingnut tools?

    They don’t spend enough time in Pierre to warrant getting paid, let alone a handsome, by any standard, per diem.

  5. o 2020-10-31

    69tears, I believe that COE salaries are obscene/absurd in contrast with general wages in the US; frankly, any comparison to CEO salaries looses me at the premise that a CEO salary is deserved — period.

  6. jerry 2020-10-31

    GNOem, a ridiculous dope.

    “Noem’s ridiculous op-ed last week in the Rapid City-Journal was an absurd piece of propaganda that didn’t have any relationship to reality. They don’t test anywhere near the level they should be. Everything remains open. Mask use is discouraged. Real science, as opposed to the junk pseudo-science espoused by Noem, is routinely ignored. For Noem, if more people just washed their hands the virus would go away.”

    We cannot pay this dingbat enough to govern. Same goes for her Lt. The two of them together are worth exactly a bucket of spit.

    Only the ignorant would consider what GNOem says as competent.

  7. grudznick 2020-10-31

    Full buckets of spit are hard to come by, and cost more than you might imagine to procure.

  8. Mark Anderson 2020-10-31

    Come on Kristi has to help Donnie apple seed spread disease. Davy Peedew can’t do it alone.

  9. leslie 2020-10-31

    Republican hypocrites. Greed is what their capitalism chases. Example: TRUMP BLUSTERS ABOUT CHINA STEALING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY YET EVERY PUBLIC CAMPAIGN EVENT SINCE his 2015 election run (thousands of public events) HAVE STOLEN COPYRIGHTED POPULAR MUSIC AGAINST CONSENT OF THE MUSICAL ARTISTS AND OWNERS OF THE MUSIC! (except the sheity music)


  10. Debbo 2020-10-31

    “if Kristi deserves a full-time salary for part-time work, so does Larry.” Cory

    Exactly what is going on in, or out of Pierre.

    I agree with 96 Tears that as state CEOs, most state governors are underpaid. However, if we’re going to think of them as CEOs, let’s treat them as such.

    At the 2 yr interval, let an option for a raise be on the ballot and require a ⅔ super majority to be enacted. In addition, let a reduction be included and require a simple majority. Truly hold them accountable. Include the same option for every incumbent or senator holding her seat.

    I agree even more with O. Many CEOs are obscenely overpaid, in addition to many pro athletes, entertainers and money pushers.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-10-31

    We do try to pay competitive wages to retain our chief investment officer, who does bang-up work growing our pension fund at a discount from the rates he could command on Wall Street.

    I am curious how we strike a proper balance between market forces and the market error that results in private CEOs getting those obscene salaries. To what extent do we set a pressuring example by saying, “Hey: the most important decision maker for the entire state only pulls down the lowest six-figure salary; CEOs at Smithfield and Premier Bankcard should scale back their obscene salaries and share more wealth with their workers”?

    But let’s not lose sight of the salient political point for the 2022 opposition’s brief book: Noem and Rhoden promised a part-time LG, as part of their effort to distinguish themselves from government-bloating Democrats, but now they’ve reneged on that promise to inflate crony Larry’s bank account. What gives? What is Larry doing to justify this expansion of his salary? And why didn’t we hear anything from the Governor about this change in Larry’s checkbook and the change to his portfolio that should correspond?

  12. grudznick 2020-10-31

    Part time, full time, you need a better straw to suck your whine through, Mr. H.

    How about asking why the Governor didn’t hand out decent candy at Halloween this year, what with all the covid money she is packing about? Or, why wasn’t Mr. Rhoden riding a real pony in the front yard for that kind of money? I bet you a gravy-laden breakfast there are a dozen employees of young Ms. Noem who have salaries change every day. Every single day, these government-teat-suckers get raises and here you whine about Mr. Rhoden, one of the staunchest and most controlled rowdy conservatives to ever ride the prairies.

    Get your hate on, libbies, the Noem Derangement Syndrome is far outpacing the covid bug spread.

  13. o 2020-10-31

    grudznick, aren’t you and many of your Conservatives with Common Sense companions “government-teat-suckers” of the retired category?

  14. Anne 2020-10-31

    It is not Noem Derangement Syndrome when even the Wall Street Journal points out that she has given dereliction of duty and incompetence new dimensions of meaning.

  15. grudznick 2020-10-31

    Indeed, Mr. o. grudznick, and many of my friends, worked our way to retirement by busting ass, working hard, and earning to live on the dividends of our hard labors. My advice to the young, demon weed toking freeloaders on society is to work harder. Make more money. Invest like grudznick did. And then live well, like grudznick and Mr. o live.

  16. grudznick 2020-10-31

    Noem Derangement Syndrome, or NDS, is not killing people who are sane. NDS is prevalent on the Thune Hate blogs, and here on Mr. H’s out-of-state name-caller blog. NDS eats people up from the inside, and is not about Love, and Caring, and Understanding. These are what grudznick and the Conservatives with Common Sense believe in.

    Mr. Dale, please join us tomorrow morning.

  17. leslie 2020-11-02

    Trump plays Fortunate Son at his rallies despite Fogerty’s demand he cease and desist. Bones Spurs is a thief and a liar and a troll, as is grdz.

    “Across the country, the group most responsible for making voting harder, if not impossible, for millions of Americans is the Republican Party,” the New York Times editorial board writes today.

    But grdz says its the liberals and out of state voices, takes no responsibility.

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