Governor Kristi Noem likes to spin criticism against her as a sign that she’s popular and right (kinda like saying Mrs. McGregor’s baking Peter Rabbit’s dad in a pie proves Pete’s dad was right for trespassing). Under that thinking, Representative Taffy Howard must be super popular and super right!
An eager reader sends me this screen cap of an attack ad received by text portraying arch-conservative Rep. Howard as a Pelosi/Schumer/Harris liberal:
This flagrantly false attack appears to be a response to Howard’s sponsorship of House Bill 1089, a measure that would make public the amount of money spent on “the provision of protection or security to the Governor or to any other state or public officials, including the costs of meals, lodging, travel, and compensation.” That’s not an attack on anyone for campaigning for anyone; that’s a public accountability measure, opening the government checkbook so the public can see just how much of their money is being spent on any public official’s spending on bodyguards, fences, and other security measures. If Kristi Noem just happens to be the only major public official using public dollars to tote bodyguards around the country with her whose expenditures might be subject to an HB 1089 public records request, well, whose fault is that?
But knowing they will lose any policy debate over the Governor’s activities, Team Noem turns anything that opens Noem and her jetsetting lifestyle up to scrutiny into a hyperpartisan personal attack.
Yesterday three Republican lawmakers dropped their names from House Bill 1089. Today two republicans and a democrat added their names.
There are allegations that lawmakers are being pressured to leave the issue alone.
Several lawmakers continue to seek information about the cost of security during Governor Noem’s travels in support of the Trump campaign.
“Taxpayers have a right to know where their tax dollars are being spent,” said Republican Representative Taffy Howard.
Howard, of Rapid City says some of the sponsors were “called to the second floor” where the Governor’s office is located. She says after that, 3 original sponsors told her they were removing their names from the bill.
They include, Representative Rhonda Milstead of Sioux Falls, Senator David Johnson of Rapid City and House Majority Whip Marli Wiese of Madison [Tom Hanson, “Lawmakers Say Taxpayers Deserve to Know Noem’s Travel Security Costs,” KELO-TV, 2021.01.28].
To their credit, Republican Representatives Aaron Aylward and Tony Randolph have stepped in as co-sponsors of HB 1089 to replace the woodshedded cowards who bailed on Howard and the public. Rep. Phil Jensen gives not one hairless hoot about pressure and remains on the sponsor list. Democratic Senator Reynold Nesiba is also waking up the minuscule Democratic caucus to this bill, getting Reps. Linda Duba, Erin Healy, and Jennifer Keintz to join him on the HB 1089 sponsor line.
HB 1089 is not some liberal pro-Pelosi plot. If Speaker Pelosi came to visit and we spent tax dollars to protect them, HB 1089 would require that those dollar amounts be public record as well.
But at the moment, Governor Noem appears to be exerting more political pressure on her own party members to block openness legislation and hide her travel security expenditures than she is to push her own confused civics agenda. Yeah, for Kristi, that sounds about right.